6 Signs That You Have Whooping Cough
Posted: Dec 14th, 2016 at 12:00AM
Pertussis is a disease which continues to spread among the population despite widespread vaccination. It can be quite dangerous both in adults and children, which makes knowing the signs imperative. Read on and we'll show you how to know if you or someone you know has contracted pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, and should be seeking medical attention.
6 Signs of Pertussis
The symptom which gives pertussis its common name is quite distinctive. It will generally occur after a prolonged spell of coughing and causes a "whoop" noise when you inhale after a fit. These coughing fits are the primary danger of the disease, and they can cause an array of secondary problems due to their violence.
The "whoop" isn't always present when adults contract the disease but it's present in nearly all cases when it comes to children. Keep an ear out if your child has been having violent coughing fits. It's probably the most distinctive sign of the disease that can be recognized by another individual.
2. Vomiting After Coughing
Vomiting after a prolonged coughing spell, especially with no previous nausea or stomach upset is another of the easy to recognize symptoms of the disease. Many people who don't know what to look for find themselves quite confused by this symptom.
Whooping cough doesn't seem to affect the stomach. Instead, the individual who is infected with pertussis will suddenly find themselves vomiting violently after a prolonged case of coughing. Until it's recognized for what it is, it can cause quite a mess, since the first few times it happens it will be extremely surprising.
3. Coughing Fits
The coughing fits which accompany pertussis are strange for the sick individual. They will often seem to occur with no warning at irregular intervals and they can be extremely violent. Cracked ribs are actually one of the side-effects of the disease if it's allowed to progress unchecked for an extended period.
It can often feel nearly chronic, but it most often comes in waves. It's not uncommon for the afflicted individual to be completely unable to stop the coughing and for the fits to last for minutes at a time rather than a few dozen quick coughs.
4. Thickened Mucus
Accompanying the coughing fits, the person infected with pertussis will also have thick mucus. If you're coughing up thick ropes of slime during coughing fits, it's a good sign that you'll want to get to the doctor instead of trying to wait out this “cold.”
Pertussis often leaves the individual who has been infected with an extreme feeling of exhaustion and lethargy. This is due to both the illness itself and the repeated coughing fits which can cost them sleep as well as use up large amounts of physical energy.
Even worse, the disease often persists for weeks at a time and may not present itself with all of the above symptoms. If you're suffering from coughing fits and trying to "wait out" a cold for weeks you may, in fact, be infected with whooping cough rather than suffering from a more common illness.
6. You're Not Vaccinated
While pertussis vaccines are pretty much routine these days, not everyone has had one or they may have missed a booster shot. It's definitely time to get to the doctor if you're presenting with the above symptoms and your vaccination records show that you're missing a dose of the vaccine.
Even those who are vaccinated can be infected, however. The efficacy of the vaccine is quite high as far as these things go but increasingly some misguided parents are choosing not to have their children vaccinated. This can result in both children and adults becoming infected.
What to Do
Pertussis is a serious illness and should be treated as such. In addition to being a violent, exhausting disease, it's also extremely infectious. You should do your best to get it taken care of as soon as you realize that what you're suffering from is likely to be whooping cough rather than some other infection.
Pertussis' distinct elements make it fairly easy to diagnose, but your doctor is likely to take some extra tests just to be sure. Afterward, you'll be treated with a course of antibiotics. It's all fairly non-invasive and it's for the best, so be sure to get into the doctor if you suspect you've contracted this illness.
An Illustration of the Importance of Vaccination
Due to the recent anti-vaccine movement, pertussis is becoming more common once more. In 2012, there was a total of nearly 42,000 people infected, and recognized, with the disease. It's the only vaccine-preventable disease which currently has a rising death toll in the US and a good argument against the anti-vaccination community.
While it is a routine vaccination some people choose to exempt their children from it. This hurts pretty much everyone since those in whom the vaccine is not efficacious are relying on the "herd immunity" of those around them to not contract the disease themselves.
There have been three epidemic level outbreaks of the disease in the last ten years. Two were officially declared as epidemics as well. In April and May of 2012 over 3,000 cases were reported in Washington state and in December of the same year, Vermont reported 522 cases.
Wisconsin actually won the "prize" coming in with 3,877 cases but did not officially declare an epidemic.
It's pretty clear that the disease is going to make a comeback if things continue as they are and this makes it more important than ever that people be able to recognize the signs which accompany the disease.
If you're experiencing a prolonged respiratory infection, be sure to consider the listed symptoms in order to determine if it's time to get to a doctor. The disease is on the rise again and even those who were vaccinated as children may be at risk. It's a serious illness, so make sure you get to the doctor as soon as you can if you think it's possible that you've contracted pertussis.
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