Most people have a cough every once in a while. It can be caused by irritants, viruses, bacteria, and more. However, sometimes, the cough doesn't seem to go away. There are various reasons for this, one of which is whooping cough. But what is whooping cough and how can you prevent it?
Understanding What Is Whooping Cough and How Can You Prevent It:
Whooping cough or pertussis disease is caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. This bacteria is highly contagious, as it can be transmitted through the air, or through contact with the sputum of someone who has contracted it. Bordetella pertussis can be found in any natural environment, and people can also be carriers. If people have a weakened immune system, they are more likely to be affected by this bacteria. It is believed that around 60% of whooping cough cases happen in children under the age of 10, whose immune system is often not yet equipped to deal with this.
Usually, the symptoms of this disease tend to appear between five and 20 days after infection. It is common, in the early stages, to experience flu-like or cold-like symptoms. This includes a sore throat and a fever. However, what characterizes whooping cough is that the cough persists even when other symptoms disappear. While most common in children under 10, it can happen at any age. Once it sets in, most patients experience shortness of breath and a dry cough. Sometimes, the cough is so persistent that people do not have time to properly draw a breath either. A physician may consider whooping cough if a patient has had a persistent dry cough for two weeks or more. A throat examination and a swab of the throat sputum will be taken to confirm the presence of the bacteria.
Dangers of Whooping Cough:
Whooping cough can be lethal if it happens in infants. In fact, some research has shown that 1 in every 500 infants who have it will die as a result. This is why you need to know what is whooping cough and how can you prevent it. Early identification is also vital so that complications can be avoided. Complications include:
– Pneumonia if the bacteria gets to the lungs
– Bleeding in the eye due to tension caused by the cough
– Seizures due to lack of oxygen to the brain
Preventing Whooping Cough:
As with every illness, prevention is better than cure. Preventing whooping cough means:
– Avoiding infected people
– Monitoring coughs and seeking help if it is persistent and you have shortness of breath
– DPT (diphtheria pertussis tetanus) vaccine
The DPT vaccine has proven to be very effective. A study in the United Kingdom has shown that, before the vaccine was offered routinely, some 200,000 new cases developed every year in the UK, which was reduced to just 2,000 after the vaccine campaign. There is no cure for whooping cough, with the bacteria eventually dying on its own. Hence, choosing to be vaccinated, or to have your children vaccinated, is generally the best course of action.