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Whooping cough or pertussis – causes, symptoms, diagnosis and prevention

Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is a bacterial infection of the lungs which is caused by a bacterium Bordetella pertussis.
– It is a disease of respiratory system.
– It is highly contagious.
– It’s characterized by severe coughing spells that end in a “whooping” sound when the person breathes in.
– The whoop originates from the inflammation and swelling of the laryngeal structures that vibrate when there is a rapid inflow of air during inspiration.
– The coughing is the body’s way of trying to get rid of thick mucus (say myoo-kus) from the lungs.
– It begins with cold and a mild cough and effects the respiratory tract and the lungs.
– It may occur to any person of any age but is more common in infants and children below four years of age.
– It is due to bacterial infection in the breathing passage.
– The incubation time is about seven to fourteen days.

Causes of Whooping Cough

– It is caused by micro-bacterial organisms.
– Adino-viruses, respiratory viruses and Para-influenza are conditions that can also affect whooping cough.
– Wrong feeding habits with refined and de-mineralized foods and absence of fresh fruits and vegetables is however the actual cause.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough

– Early symptoms include runny nose, dry cough, and low-grade fever.
– Cough becomes severe with time.
– During the episodes of coughing the face can become red or blue (cyanosis) due to a lack of oxygen.
– Tiredness.
– Loss of appetite.
– Sore throat.
– Symptoms also include vomiting after a coughing episode, coughing up thick phlegm, and fatigue.
– Extreme symptoms can be fractured ribs, hernia, and broken blood vessels in the eyes and on the skin.
– In infants, extreme symptoms may include dehydration, pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and respiratory arrest.

Prevention of Whooping Cough

– Stay home from school and away from other people.
– See a doctor.
– Take plenty of rest.
– Eat healthy food.
– Drink lots of water.
– Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

Diagnosis of Whooping Cough

Diagnosis is based on symptoms, physical examination, and culture or DFA (direct fluorescent antibody) testing of nasopharyngeal secretions.

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