Whooping cough, aka pertussis, is contagious bacteria causing respiratory infection, set apart by severe coughing fits with “whooping” inhalation. These nagging coughing episodes can cause vomiting and difficulty eating or drinking.
The initial symptoms of pertussis are very similar to those of a common cold, with:
However, whooping cough hangs on, and symptoms worsen as the disease progresses. The later signs and symptoms of whooping cough resembles bronchitis, marked by a nagging, hacking cough and coughing up mucus.
The pertussis bacteria produces toxins which cause thick mucus accumulation and inflammation in your airways. As a result, you will experience uncontrollable phlegm coughing and difficulty getting air into your lungs. As evidenced by that high pitched whoop on your inhale.
It typically takes well over a month before this infection symptoms resolves itself. If caught early, antibiotic treatment can lessen severity by shortening its duration. Otherwise this form of treatment offers little help.
Unfortunately, not much out there by way of symptom relief either. Over the counter cough medicines can’t knock back this condition’s tenacious whoop of a cough. So, while the whooping infection runs its course, try to:
- get plenty of rest
- eat small frequent meals ~ avoids vomiting
- drink plenty of fluids ~ prevent dehydration
- keep your air free of irritants ~ triggers coughing spells
- use a vaporizer ~ soothes lung irritation and loosens phlegm/mucus
Politely wear a mask around others to avoid spreading your respiratory discharge containing this ceaseless hacking cough bacteria.
With appropriate care, teenagers and adults recoup from whooping cough without complication. Sadly, complications of pertussis can be especially severe for infants, and may include:
- ear infections
- brain damage
- slowed or stopped breathing
Highest risk lies in children who are too young to be fully vaccinated.
Fortunately for us all, outbreaks of whooping cough are relatively uncommon.