Whooping cough is a bacterial infection which usually affects young infants and older kids. It is highly infectious and can cause a huge variety of symptoms that will make your little one miserable.
The great news is that there is a vaccination available that should be included in your baby’s immunization program. However, the immunity will eventually wear off, and older kids can be at risk, especially if they haven’t received a booster shot. In today’s post, we will take a quick look at whooping cough causes and treatments.
What Is Whooping Cough?
Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that affects the respiratory tract. Traditionally, this illness was only believed to affect young children, but it can actually affect adolescents and adults who have diminished immunity.
The bacteria (Bordetella pertussis) is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which spays germ-filled droplets into the air. Anyone nearby can breathe in these droplets, and if they are not immunized, or if they have an impaired immune system, they are likely to get sick. Kids under the age of twelve months are particularly at risk, as they haven’t had all their shots. But, as already mentioned, older kids and adults can get the illness if they are exposed to the germs.
Initially, the symptoms of whooping cough will be very similar to a common cold. Over time, however, the symptoms will get more severe, and if left untreated can lead to some more serious complications.
Common symptoms include:
- Cold symptoms that get progressively worse
- Intense coughing fits, usually worse at night
- Thick mucus
- Possible vomiting after coughing
- Making a “whooping” sound between coughing spells
- Young babies may even stop breathing briefly
- Children may turn blue if they are struggling to breath
Whooping cough tends to come in waves, but the symptoms usually get better after a couple of weeks. If you are worried, you should go and get your child checked out immediately. Also, if you suspect that your newborn child has whooping cough, seek immediate medical assistance, as it can lead to more severe conditions such as pneumonia, seizures, and brain damage.
The best form of treatment is making sure that your child is up to date on their immunizations so that their immune system develops resistance to the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. Your pediatrician should inform you about the vaccine protocol before you give birth, and it is essential that you don’t miss any of the shots.
Typically, there will be five injections at regular intervals, and the short-term discomfort your child will feel after the injection will be worth the peace of mind of knowing that your child is protected against this nasty illness.
If you or your child gets infected, treatment will usually consist of a course of antibiotics and may require a stay in the hospital, especially for babies under six months of age. The best course of action is that if you suspect that your child has whooping cough, contact your pediatrician to get a prompt diagnosis.