Whooping Cough – What Is It and How Can It Be Treated?

You may’ve heard lately that the number of instances of Whooping Cough is on the rise, particularly in babies and children. But unless you’ve ever been into contact with it you understandably may not even know what it is. Let’s take a look at how the symptoms might present themselves, and how they can be treated.

Occurrences are on the rise, and ‘pertussis’ as the scientists refer to it, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. It’s particularly dangerous to very young babies who haven’t yet received the full vaccination against the disease because unfortunately a mother’s antibodies don’t provide quite enough protection.

Symptoms commonly present themselves as a persistent dry and irritated cough that progresses to more intense stints of coughing. These are followed by a distinctive ‘whooping’ sound, which is how the unfortunate affliction gets its name. Other symptoms display themselves in a similar way to the common cold in that they can include a high temperature, runny nose etc. but also vomiting after coughing - eek.

Because statistics are increasing and the disease is so easily passed on by coughing and sneezing, fathers and grandparents of pregnant mommies are recommended to get vaccinated before the birth of the child. This is in addition to the mother of course.

Bacteria causes the airways to swell which obstructs breathing and causes the ‘whoop’ sound as the afflicted person gasps for breath after coughing. Babies younger than six months mightn’t make the ‘whooping’ sound, but may gag or gasp or temporarily stop breathing. Due to the severity in babies under twelve months your baby may need to go to hospital for diagnosis and treatment and as parent this may be alarming, but remember your baby will be in the best care possible at the hospital.

If admitted to hospital your baby will likely be kept away from other people in isolation and be given antibiotics intravenously via a drip system. In more severe cases the baby may also need to be prescribed a form of steroids to reduce inflammation of the airways and a face mask may also be given to assist breathing.

The best method of prevention is immunization against the disease. We understand that this is a very important and very personal decision and all of the facts must be taken into consideration in order to decide whether immunization is appropriate for yourself and your family. Although immunized children can still ‘catch’ whooping cough the severity of the disease in immunized children is much reduced. Let’s also remember that immunization also helps with restricting the disease from spreading.

So we hope we’ve helped to share with you the symptoms and treatment for whooping cough, and that you feel more enlightened and in a good position to make a decision about the immunization of yourself and your baby. Wishing you health and happiness.