Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection, which can be prevented only by a certain type of vaccine. This cough spreads easily and can affect multiple individuals if not prevented in the initial stage. It usually requires a medical diagnosis, lab tests, and imaging.
A whooping cough is a bacterial infection that inflames the lungs and airways. The pertussis bacteria also infect the windpipe, where they bring on a persistent, violent cough. This illness is characterized by ‘whooping’ sounds made by children when they take a deep breath in between coughs.
Here are 7 signs to know if your baby has whooping cough.
1. Runny nose
Your little one always has a runny nose, which needs to be wiped non-stop to prevent mucus dripping down their nostrils. A runny nose can also be because of the common cold, but whooping cough is characterized by a constantly running nose.
Sneezing is also a sign of whooping cough. Parents seem to ignore it, thinking it is just another sneeze and not so serious. The sneezing is mostly in spells and does not just stop at one sneeze. If this type of sneezing is accompanied by a dry cough, then parents had better take notice and consult a doctor.
3. Mild cough
Initially, your baby might have a mild cough. This dry and irritating cough might later turn to coughing spells. During a coughing spell, which can last for more than a minute, a child may turn red or purple.
4. Low-grade fever
Whooping cough is also characterized by low-grade, mild fever, which seems to be persistent. This fever may not be high enough to take notice of, but is always present and can go ignored.
Apnea is nothing but a pause in your baby’s breathing pattern. Due to a persistent spell of a cough, babies might take huge breathing pauses, just to recover from the spell.
6. Whooping cough
Very literally, whooping cough is named so because of its sound. Children make a bird-like ‘whooping’ sound when they cough and it usually takes 30 seconds to a minute to recover from a spell. This sound is typically made when children take a deep breath between pauses while coughing.
7. Squeamishness and lethargy
Due to constant and breathtaking coughing spells, babies might get lethargic and squeamish. Although this is more of an effect than cause, it helps you to differentiate between common cold and whooping cough.
Whooping cough can be prevented by the pertussis vaccine, which is a part of DTaP immunization. Getting the vaccine is especially important for people who are in close contact with infants because babies can develop severe and potentially life-threatening complications from whooping cough. An adult's immunity to whooping cough lessens over time, so getting vaccinated and protecting yourself against the infection also helps protect your infant or child from getting it.
All in all, whooping cough can be fatal for your baby, but you need not worry about it since it has a cure just like most other illnesses. Make sure you do not ignore the signs and consult your doctor for further treatment.