Have you ever experienced or seen someone cough for months? It could be that the person has a whooping cough. Whooping cough or pertussis is a bacterial infection of the lungs and respiratory tract that is easily contagious. This disease can be life-threatening if it affects the elderly and children, especially babies who have not received the pertussis vaccine. Therefore, learn more about Pertussis Toxin Cause of Whooping Cough How To Treat Them.
What is pertussis?
Whooping cough or pertussis is a highly contagious cough caused by the bacterial infection Bordetella pertussis in the respiratory tract. This condition can last for 4-8 weeks so it is also known as a cough for a hundred days.
In addition to prolonged coughing, pertusses are also accompanied by wheezing breaths. Initially, the cough is mild, but getting worse and can be accompanied by several other health disorders, such as nasal congestion, watery eyes, dry throat, and fever.
Pertussis can be transmitted quickly generally among children and adolescents and has the potential to cause dangerous complications or health impacts.
How common is this condition?
Children and toddlers are the most vulnerable age group to contract whooping cough. Especially 12-month-old babies and small children aged 1-4 years who do not vaccinate.
There are 24.1 million cases of whooping cough per year worldwide that are commonly suffered by children. The World Health Organization estimates there are at least 300,000 cases of child mortality in developing countries caused by pertusses each year.
However, babies less than 12 months old have not been able to get the pertussis vaccine. Therefore, she is more likely to get whooping cough if while pregnant her mother does not vaccinate. Although pertussis cough is more common in children, it also occurs in adults.
In addition to direct saliva splashing, there are many ways of transmitting pneumonia. To avoid this infection, you should recognize What is Contagious Pneumonia Period After Antibiotics?
Below are the signs and symptoms of pertussis
Signs of health disorders that mark whooping cough usually only appear about 5-10 days after being infected by bacteria. In children, the symptoms of pertussis can be more specific, such as shortness of breath when lying down or sleeping. The stage of whooping cough infection itself consists of three phases in which each phase shows different symptoms.
Symptoms of pertussis phase 1
The signs and symptoms of whooping cough at an early stage that lasts for 1-2 weeks are usually mild and similar to the symptoms of an ordinary cold, such as:
- Runny/blocked nose
- Red and watery eyes
- Coughing with a cough
Symptoms of pertussis phase 2
After more than 2-3 weeks, the signs and symptoms of whooping cough will worsen. The second phase of pertussis bacterial infection is also known as the paroxysmal phase. In this phase, the cough condition is getting intense and sometimes can not stop for 10 minutes.
The condition can recur up to 10-15 times a day. This phase can take place in 1-6 weeks. In adults, during the cough period, the sound of whooping will be heard more clearly.
The production of mucus in the respiratory tract is also increasing and concentrated so that the cough is increasingly difficult to stop.
The second phase of infection is also more at risk of threatening the safety of infants and children. Babies can experience shortness of breath that gets worse and worse. Here are other symptoms that often appear in the second phase of bacterial infections that cause whooping cough:
- Face turns pale blue (usually in children) or blushes
- Feeling extreme fatigue
- Chest pain when coughing
- Wheezing sounds are getting higher, especially when breathing after coughing
Symptoms of pertussis phase 3
The final phase is a healing phase that generally lasts for 1-3 months. Health problems experienced usually begin to gradually improve, the frequency and duration of the cough period begin to decrease.
Although in this phase sufferers no longer transmit bacteria, they remain at risk of infection from viruses or other bacteria thus slowing down the healing process. Whooping cough does not have specific symptom characteristics that can distinguish it from other types of cough.
Moreover, not all pertussis make wheezing sounds when coughing or when having difficulty breathing. Therefore it is sometimes difficult to determine that the prolonged cough suffered is whooping cough.
When should I see a doctor?
The first phase of the development of pertussis cough is the period at which the infection is very susceptible to transmission. Even so, parents need to be very careful and do not delay medical treatment, especially when symptoms have shown the development of infection in the second phase.
It is because the highest risk of death from pertussis occurs in this parochial phase. If you suspect that the symptoms are signs of pertusses, check with your doctor even if the cough is still mild. Besides, you should also contact your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences the following symptoms:
- The face becomes reddish or bluish
- Difficulty breathing
- The breath is shortening
Causes of whooping cough
Caused By Bacteria
The cause of whooping cough is usually caused by Bordetella pertussis bacteria. The bacteria spread through the air then enters the body which eventually attacks breathing. After that the bacteria will release toxins and attack a person, resulting in whooping cough disease.
One of the other causes of whooping cough is allergies. A person who has whooping cough due to allergies, usually the person will experience shortness of breath, nasal congestion, and also eventually will get worse if not treated immediately. If you feel any such symptoms, immediately check your condition with your doctor to avoid getting worse.
A person with bronchitis can also cause a person to have a whooping cough. Bronchitis is an infection that occurs in the lungs, resulting in the onset of inflammation of the lung canal.
If you have whooping cough, you should be careful if you take free medication to treat whooping cough. That is because there are many types of drugs that are not effective to treat the disease. Whooping cough in adolescents and adults can be treated alone at home or with antibiotics according to the doctor’s prescription.
Risk Factors For Whooping Cough
Pertussis is a type of highly contagious cough. Some conditions can increase a person’s chances of contracting the disease. People with the following conditions are more at risk of pertussis cough:
- Infants under 12 months old who are still unable to receive the vaccine
- People who interact closely and frequently with pertussis
- People with weakened immune systems, such as pregnant women, autoimmune patients, or those undergoing treatment that lower the work of the immune system
How to diagnose whooping cough
In the early stages of diagnosis, the doctor will perform a physical examination, analyze the medical history, and try to identify health disorders that resemble pertussis symptoms.
Doctors can accept the diagnosis because the symptoms often appear similar to the common cold.
Therefore, the doctor will usually start looking for comparative analysis by asking how bad the cough is or listening to the cough to detect the presence of wheezing sounds.
To obtain a more definitive diagnosis, your doctor will usually ask you to undergo the following medical tests:
Phlegm or sputum test:
laboratory examination to analyze mucus samples taken from the throat and nose so that it can be known whether or not Bordetella pertussis bacteria exists in the body.
to find out the number of blood cell elements, especially white blood cells. If the number is high, then it indicates the presence of several infections.
Chest X-ray test:
take pictures of the inside of the chest using X-rays to check for inflammation or fluid in the lungs.
Whooping Cough Treatment
Whooping cough treatment aims to overcome bacterial infections, relieve symptoms, and help prevent the transmission of diseases. Treatment can be done in the following ways:
The use of antibiotics has some functions, among which to eradicate bacteria, reduce the potential for relapse of whooping cough or the spread of infection to other parts of the body, and prevent the transmission of this disease to others.
Antibiotics are more effective when administered in the early weeks of infection. However, antibiotics will not immediately relieve the symptoms of cough in pertusses.
Self-care at home
While using antibiotics as directed by the doctor, patients are also recommended to do the treatment below to accelerate healing:
- Increase rest and drink water frequently.
- Eat smaller portions but more often when experiencing nausea or vomiting after coughing.
- Maintain cleanliness and stay away from dust or cigarette smoke.
- To humidify the air use a humidifier
- Cover your mouth and nose or use a mask when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands diligently with soap and running water
Patients may take fever and painkillers, such as paracetamol, to relieve fever or sore throat. Always use the drug according to the instructions for use. Do not combine these drugs without a doctor’s examination.
It is not recommended to take cough medicine indiscriminately unless recommended by a doctor. This is because taking drugs indiscriminately has the potential to cause side effects, especially when consumed by children under 4-6 years of age.
Hospital treatment is necessary when whooping cough occurs in infants, children with a history of lung, heart, or nerve disease, and severe pertussis patients. This is because these patients are more at risk of complications.
Hospital treatments can include:
- The suction of mucus or phlegm from the respiratory tract.
- Oxygen delivery through breathing apparatus, such as masks or hoses, especially when the patient is difficult to breathe.
- Placement of patients in isolation rooms to prevent the spread of the disease.
- Provision of nutrients and fluids through infusions, especially if the patient is at risk of dehydration or difficulty swallowing food.
Whooping Cough Complications
Some of the complications that can occur due to whooping cough are:
- Nosebleeds and brain hemorrhage
- Brain damage due to lack of oxygen supply or so-called hypoxic encephalopathy
- Bruising or cracking of ribs
- Rupture of blood vessels in the skin or eyes
- Hernia in the abdomen (abdominal hernia)
- Ear infections, such as otitis media
- Increased risk of developing lung and respiratory tract disorders in the future.
Whooping Cough Prevention
The best way to prevent whooping cough is to vaccinate or immunize pertusses. This vaccine is usually given by doctors or midwives along with diphtheria, tetanus, and polio (DTP vaccination) vaccines.
The basic immunization schedule for DTP is at the age of 2, 3, and 4 months. However, if the baby is unable to immunize on the schedule, parents are advised to bring the child to perform a catch up according to the schedule given by the doctor.
Children are also advised to perform advanced immunizations (boosters) so that the benefits are optimal. This immunization is carried out 4 times, namely at the age of 18 months, 5 years, 10-12 years, and 18 years. Booster immunization is recommended to be repeated once every 10 years.
Pregnant women are also recommended to vaccinate boosters at 27–36 weeks gestation. Pertussis vaccination while pregnant can protect babies from whooping cough in the early weeks after birth. In addition to vaccination, also practice a clean and healthy lifestyle to improve the immune system.