WHAT IS IT?
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection, marked by a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like “whoop.”
The condition primarily affects children too young to have completed the full course of vaccinations and teenagers and adults whose immunity has faded.
Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium. Signs and symptoms are usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold. After a week or two, thick mucus accumulates inside your airways, causing uncontrollable coughing. Some people don’t develop the characteristic whoop sound but have a persistent hacking cough.
Antibiotics can kill the bacteria causing whooping cough and help speed recovery.
Unfortunately, not much is available to relieve the cough. Over-the-counter cough medicines have little effect and are discouraged. These at-home tips may help reduce symptoms while you’re recovering:
- Get plenty of rest. Rest helps your body fight the infection.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Water, juice, and soups are good choices. In children, especially, watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry lips, crying without tears, and infrequent urination.
- Eat smaller meals. To avoid vomiting after coughing, smaller, more frequent meals are better than large ones.
- Clean the air. Keep your home free of irritants that can trigger coughing spells, such as tobacco smoke.
The best way to prevent whooping cough is with the pertussis vaccine, which is often combined with vaccines against diphtheria and tetanus. The pertussis vaccine is administered during infancy and early childhood. Because immunity tends to wane by age 11, doctors recommend a booster shot at that age and again later in adulthood.
Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”.