Causes and Prevention of Whooping Cough in Infants and Adults


Whooping cough is a medical condition that is contagious. After the development of vaccines, prevention of whooping cough in infants is no longer a problem.

People have a severe cough that sounds like a whoop.  Vaccinations strengthen immunity and do not allow infections to take over.

Cough used to be deadly in infants when there were no vaccines available. Now that they are available, deaths associated with it have become rare. Even pregnant women are now vaccinated if they have whooping cough so as to save the arriving infant.

Causes of Whooping Cough

Whooping cough is caused by bacteria which can be contagious to people nearby. An infected person can pass on the germs in the air while sneezing or coughing.

These tiny droplets contain the bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. The bacteria can be inhaled by nearby people which can infect them as a result.

There are 3 stages of whooping cough. The first stage usually lasts for the initial 1 or 2 weeks. It is more commonly known as the runny nose stage.

The second stage is known as the paroxysmal stage. The third stage is the convalescent stage. All three stages have different symptoms and time periods which help differentiate between them.

However, a doctor can better diagnose the condition and choose an appropriate treatment for the condition.

Symptoms in Infants and Adults 

The symptoms of whooping cough should not be ignored. Although the signs are almost like that of common cold, they should still be observed for changes.

The common symptoms of whooping cough are a runny nose, nasal congestion, watery eyes, fever, and cough. It usually takes around 7 days for the symptoms of whooping cough to become severe.

The uncontrollable cough starts after the first week has passed. The symptoms may worsen as time passes and other symptoms may also occur.

Coughing attacks prolong with an accumulation of thick mucus inside. Other symptoms include vomiting, blue face, fatigue, and whoop sound while coughing with breathing difficulty.

However, the whooping sound does not always happen in adults. A persistent and hacking cough is recognized as whooping cough in this case.

Risk Factors 

The effects of the vaccine received in early childhood usually wear off as we grow old as an adult. Regular outbreaks can then be noticed when the vaccine no longer saves you against the cough.

Infants are at a high risk of getting cough until they are vaccinated. Infants under 12 months of age can be affected by cough and should be taken care of.

Whooping cough can be treated successfully in adults. However, some complications can be a result of prolonged and strenuous coughing. The side effects of coughing can be affected by abdominal hernias, cracked ribs, or even broken blood vessels.

Strenuous coughing can harm your lungs and even ribs which is why it should be treated. Whooping cough can cause more harm to your body if it prolongs. Also, more pain will result from the condition if left treated.

Try to seek the right treatment as soon as you realize your cough is going overtime. Whooping cough usually makes the whoop sound. It also causes breathing difficulties once it prolongs than the common cold.

Whooping Cough in Infants

Infants can struggle with breathing and can have pneumonia with whooping cough. Dehydration or weight loss can also be a result of whooping cough in infants. Other effects such as seizures and brain damage can be harmful to infants.

The side effects can be fatal for infants under the age of 6 months. Therefore, they should be treated in a hospital under special care.

Complications resulting from whooping cough can be life-threatening and should never be ignored. It is always best to have the infant checked for the signs and symptoms of cough.

Prevention of Whooping Cough 

The best way to prevent whooping cough is through vaccines. Vaccines are given in order to prevent diseases. The pertussis vaccine is given in combination with other vaccines to prevent two serious diseases.

The vaccines should be started in early infancy. They are a series of 5 injections given at intervals of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years.

The effects of vaccine start to wear off after 11 years of age. Booster shots are helpful in this case as they prevent whooping cough. The immunity can be restored at that age by a dose of vaccine.

There are other vaccines that will protect the immune system of adults through every 10 months vaccine. This vaccine also reduced the risk of contagiousness which will not allow it to pass onto infants.

Pregnant women should get the vaccine against pertussis so as to save the infant in the first few months of life. The vaccine can be given to the pregnant woman between 27 and 36 weeks. The guide to Pregnancy will inform you more about things to avoid during the period.

The preventive medications usually prescribed for whooping cough are antibiotics. The antibiotics can protect against infections if the person affected is pregnant, younger than 12 months of age, has a severe illness, or lives with someone having whooping cough.

Side Effects of Vaccines

The side effects of vaccines are usually mild. A fever, headache, crankiness, fatigue, or soreness are the most side effects of vaccines.

Infants are not given medicines for the treatment of whooping cough. Cough is usually nature trying to clear the airways. However, prolonged cough spells should be treated to relieve the pain.

The irritated lungs can be soothed along with the breathing passage when the child is recovering.

Keeping yourself away from sprays and chemicals can save you from cough. Offer the child small meals throughout the day. This will allow the food to digest well without having to vomit.

The whooping cough should be reported to a doctor as it can get severe. Prolonged spells of cough is not a good sign. Call your doctor if you notice signs such as vomiting, red or blue face, breathing pauses, and whooping sound while inhaling.

A doctor will be able to examine the patient physically and see if the symptoms indicate whooping cough. Most often, people ignore prolonged spells of cough which not healthy. You should not delay getting treatment for a common cold if prolongs or is causing more pain than usual.

Bottom Line 

Whooping cough is dangerous for infants under the age of 12 months. The development of vaccines brought about a huge change for good. Infants are no longer infected by the bacteria when they are vaccinated.

Moreover, whooping cough in adults can also be treated with the help of antibiotics. Infants are not usually given antibiotics but they will need treatment for cough.

Know the coughing symptoms and risk factors in order to differentiate between the common cold and whooping cough. Consult a doctor to see if the symptoms indicate any medical condition.

Khadija Ahmad

An author at Ask Health News, Khadija has good experience in Health And Physical Education and delivers her research work to entertain readers. Her words reflect creativity and intellect as she succeeds in shaping them into interesting articles for readers. Email: khadija@askhealthnews.com

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