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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whooping Cough-Causes,Symptoms

 What Is Whooping Cough ?

Whooping cough or pertussis to give it its medical name, is an infectious illness that an be caught by children of any age. It is most common between the first and fifth year but after the age of nine it is rare. It is usually among childhood infections because of the length of time it lasts; it can take anything up to three or four months for a child to recover completely. During its course, children suffer numerous bouts of coughing that can be so severe that they are left gasping for breath. This gasping, combined with the narrowing of the air passage in the throat, causes the whoop as air inhaled-hence the name of the disease. Although largely preventable by immunization, public anxiety about the safety of the vaccine has led to fewer children receiving it in recent years and this has resulted in epidemics of the disease. 


The illness is produced by infection with a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. When a person with the disease coughs, large numbers of the bacterium are expelled in tiny airborne droplets. If these are breathed in by people who have neither been immunized nor had the disease before, they may become infected. This infectious stage occurs during the first two or three weeks of the illness and children in the same house or classroom are likely to catch it.


At first, during the seven to ten day incubation period, there is no way of knowing that a child has caught whooping cough because there are no symptoms. The disease itself begins in exactly the same way as a common cold but, after about a week, it becomes obvious that it is no ordinary cold. Although the temperature is only slightly raised, the cough steadily worsens and the child has difficulty in clearing the nose, throat and air tubes of thick, sticky mucus.After about 10 to 40 days, true coughing spasms being to occur. The child can cough up to 20 or 30 times rapid succession. Because the child is unable to take a breath between each cough, the face can become red, then blue, often with the eyes bulging and mouth drooling. For a few moments the child may seem to have stopped breathing but then will take an enormous gulp of air, sometimes making a whooping noise as the air rushes past the vocal cords into the lungs. At the end of the spasms vary severity and frequency from one child to another and may occur as little as four times daily or as much as 40. This coughing-spasms stage lasts from one to two weeks, and the slightest upset, movement, change of room temperature or drought may provoke a spasm. Smaller children, particularly, are easily frightened during these spasms, and babies rapidly become exhausted. Babies under a year are the most seriously affected - probably because during the bouts of coughing their vocal cords close completely, temporarily preventing air from getting into the lungs. As the illness declines, the coughing bouts become less severe and the whoop disappears. An unpleasant cough may continue for two or three months, however, during which time the child feels generally under the weather. A few lucky children, including those who develop the illness despite being immunized, may shake off the illness in a much shorter time. In a typical case diagnosis is simple. However, some children neither whoop nor have prolonged coughing spasms so the disease should be suspected when any child has a bad cough that continues for more than two weeks. There are other illness which have similar symptoms to cough, such as infections causing enlargement of glands adjacent to the bronchi (large air tubes leading into the lung), and mild case may be difficult to distinguish from bronchitis. Also, an infant who inhales something - such as food going down the wrong way a small toy, bead, or peanut may cough is spasms, but this will not have been preceded by a period of mild coughing, a cold and a temperature the typical whooping cough symptoms. Where there is doubt, a doctor can confirm the diagnosis by sending a sample of mucus, taken from the back of the nose, to a laboratory for testing. Alternatively, a blood test will give a good indication of the presence of whooping cough.Learn More

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