Whooping Cough or Pertussis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Complications
Whooping Cough Or Pertussis Explained
Whooping Cough or Pertussis- This is a pathological condition of the respiratory system found in infants which is caused by bacteria called Bordetella Pertussis. This infection causes uncontrollable and violent bouts of cough leading to extreme difficulty in breathing. This condition still remains a primary cause of mortality in infants below 2 years of age.
Causes Of Whooping Cough Or Pertussis
As stated, Bordetella Pertussis named bacterium is the primary cause of Whooping Cough or Pertussis. This is a potentially serious disease which can result in permanent disability in infants and sometimes even death. The bacteria can spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The duration of this disease is usually six weeks with treatment. Whooping Cough or Pertussis can affect people irrespective of their age. Whooping cough was more common when vaccination for it was not readily available, but as parents became more aware of this condition and started immunizing their children very early this disease is now mostly found in teenagers
Symptoms Of Whooping Cough Or Pertussis
In the initial stages of the disease, the symptoms are relatively mild and resemble that of a common cold. The disease usually begins after about a week of exposure to the offending bacteria. As the disease progresses, children may start developing repeated bouts of severe cough with a whooping noise. This noise is produced when the child takes a breath. These severe coughing spells may cause vomiting and difficulty breathing. Some of the other associated symptoms of Whooping Cough or Pertussis are:
Diagnosis Of Whooping Cough Or Pertussis
The treating physician usually makes a diagnosis by looking at the symptom profile. However, during the initial stages when the symptoms are not that apparent, Whooping Cough or Pertussis is a difficult condition to diagnose. Hence, to confirm the diagnosis, the treating physician may conduct a mucous test by testing the nasal secretions to confirm Whooping Cough or Pertussis. A blood test may also be performed which may show abundant lymphocytes.
Treatment Options For Whooping Cough Or Pertussis
If the disease is diagnosed early enough, then medications like erythromycin can be used for symptom relief but the diagnosis of Whooping Cough or Pertussis is usually made when the disease has progressed and so antibiotics are not that effective in treatment, although these medications make the disease less contagious. Hospitalization may be required for children whose disease has significantly progressed. In such cases, oxygen supplementation may be needed.
Intravenous fluids may be required if the child is not able to take in adequate fluids due to coughing spells. The one thing that should be kept in mind is never to use cough syrups, expectorants etc.. for Whooping Cough or Pertussis. In children and adolescents, the prognosis from Whooping Cough or Pertussis is usually good.
Complications Of Whooping Cough Or Pertussis
- Seizure disorder
- Ear infections
- Damage to the brain due to reduced oxygen flow to the brain
- Cerebral hemorrhage
- Apneic spells