Causes and symptoms of whooping cough
Causes & Risk Factors
Whooping cough, medically known as pertussis, is a respiratory condition occurring in people of any age. This disease is caused due to infection by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. These bacteria often start growing in the upper respiratory tract and lead to inflammation in the airways. Although this disease is highly contagious, the spread of whooping cough has been brought under control because of the TDAP (combined tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) vaccine.
Some of the most common causes and modes of transmission of whooping cough are described as follows:
- Bacterial infection
As mentioned earlier, whooping cough or acellular pertussis occurs when the bacterium Bordetella pertussis enters the body. Thus, being exposed to an infected individual or being exposed to an epidemic can be extremely dangerous and may result in the contraction of whooping cough.
A vaccine is the most efficient way of preventing any contagious pathogen from entering the body. Several vaccines are administered to babies or toddlers over a few years that protect them from such harmful diseases. One of them includes the TDAP vaccine, which is the most efficient in preventing tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of whooping cough are as follows:
- Early symptoms
If a person has recently been exposed to the bacteria, they may start experiencing mild cold or flu-like symptoms that may not seem very serious in the beginning. Babies and younger children may also suffer from apnea, in which their breathing abruptly stops from time to time. Other common symptoms observed in the early stages are mild, low-grade fever, a runny nose, and mild cough.
- Severe symptoms
After one or two weeks have passed, the person may start exhibiting more serious symptoms, typical when dealing with pertussis. Some of these symptoms include extreme fatigue and exhaustion, vomiting, and nausea. In this stage, the patient may also start experiencing the typical rapid cough associated with pertussis. This type of cough may come in fits or paroxysms and may also be followed by a distinct high-pitched “whoop” sound in a more severe case. When the person is not experiencing a coughing fit, they may seem to be doing well. Such a cough could go on for as long as 10 weeks or more.