Whooping Cough

A whooping cough is a rather serious respiratory disease that is highly contagious. It is not as common in most developed nations as it once was, but in recent years, there has been a resurgence in outbreaks of the whooping cough.

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What is a Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough is medically termed as pertussis. The coughing that results from the disease is quite severe and can last for months. The coughing fits can be so severe that they cause severe pain and may even cause you to hurt a rib. The disease takes its common name from the very symptom that defines the illness. Individuals afflicted with the whooping cough produce a distinctive sound when attempting to inhale. This occurs because of the swelling and inflamed condition of the laryngeal structures, which vibrate with the rapid inflow of air.

The whooping cough can be passed on from one individual to the other very easily, because of the highly contagious nature of the disease. The whooping cough is caused by a bacterial infection, but it is preventable to some extent. There are vaccines against the disease, but in recent times, a lot of concerns have been raised with regard to the effectiveness of these vaccines and also with safety. It is particularly important to get babies and younger children vaccinated however, because of the high risk of complications. Similarly, the risk of complications also increases with advancing age, as adults over sixty are at risk of complications like pneumonia and abdominal hernias. The disease is most problematic in infants or babies born too early to receive shots.

In most cases, treatment is very effective for the disease and patients should have a problem free recovery. The bacteria that is responsible for the infection can infect people of any age group, race and gender, but was traditionally most common among infants and very young children. With the introduction of vaccination, these trends have changed, and condition today is more likely to affect older individuals and youngsters above the age of 11. This is because the vaccine does begin to wear off. Vaccination has been extremely effective in controlling fatalities from complications however as there are less than 30 fatalities from the disease in a year, as compared to five to ten thousand before vaccination.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough

The child develops a cold with a marked cough, which becomes more severe and spasmodic after a few days. At the end of this spasm, the child gives a characteristic whoop. As the paroxysms of coughing increase, the disease becomes less infective.

Vomiting, which is frequent, may lead to the bursting of small blood vessels in tile nose or the conjunctiva of the eyes. The disease may last for several weeksA whooping cough infection may not be recognized early on as the initial symptoms are mild and closely resemble those of the common cold. These early symptoms also only begin to appear around three to twelve days after you have picked up the infection. Initial symptoms of a whooping cough infection include the following:p>

  • A cold, runny nose and sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Watering of the eyes and redness
  • Possible rise in temperature
  • A dry cough
  • What earlier appeared like a mild common cold or flu begins to take a more serious turn around a week or two later. The patient will now begin to experience severe coughing fits that can last for considerable periods of time:

  • There may be a presence of thick phlegm
  • Vomiting
  • Labored breathing and breathlessness may cause redness or blueness of the face
  • The patient may also experience severe exhaustion and fatigue
  • You may also notice that characteristic whooping sound during inhalation

Do keep in mind that the typical symptoms may not always develop, particularly in infants. Not all adults or adolescents will develop the characteristic whooping cough sound, and persistent hacking cough may be the only warning sign. In infants, the only signs may be a gasping for air and redness of the face. Infants may actually stop breathing for a few seconds at a time, during severe spells.

Causes of Whooping Cough

Whooping cough is caused as a result of a bacterial infection that spreads when you come in contact with contaminated air. Infected droplets are expelled into the atmosphere when someone with the disease coughs or sneezes. An infection develops if these infected droplets are inhaled. Once inhaled, the bacteria begin to multiply and start to release toxins that impair the ability of your respiratory tract to filter out harmful germs. There is also a buildup of thick mucus in the airways, which causes the prolonged coughing. There is also a narrowing of the airways because of inflammation and this causes breathlessness, labored breathing and gasping, often resulting in the characteristic whooping sound.

The main problem with a whooping cough is the high risk of contagion, and anyone in close contact with the infected individual is vulnerable to infection if not vaccinated. Apart from inhalation of the infected droplets, you can also get infected through contact with contaminated surfaces and the subsequent transference of germs from your hands to your mouth or nose by touching them.

Do keep in mind that the risk of contagion is highest during the initial stages of the disease, until around two weeks after the development of the cough. The risk of contagion is reduced once antibiotic treatment begins.

Remedies for Whooping Cough

Home remedies for a whooping cough are quite popular, but most whooping cough remedies will not help to cure the condition completely. Whooping cough natural remedies can however help to provide relief from the symptoms and hasten recovery by strengthening immunity. Conventional treatment is essential, but whooping cough treatment at home may be used to facilitate the action of conventional drugs.

Home treatment for a whooping cough typically involves the use of lifestyle modifications to counter the problem. While some remedies help address the condition itself, other are directed towards specific symptoms:

  • Aromatherapy and steam inhalation can help in the treatment of a whooping cough considerably. Add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oils to a basin of steaming water for inhalation. This will help to clear the respiratory passages to some extent and help expel mucus.
  • Similarly, the use of humidifiers will also help loosen nasal secretions, particularly if your surroundings are cooled or heated artificially.
  • Salt water gargles can help to provide relief from a sore throat if there is any throat irritation and inflammation.
  • The consumption of a mixture of ginger juice extract with honey will also help to relieve throat irritation and inflammation.
  • The consumption of herbal teas like ginger, chamomile and thyme can also provide considerable relief from the symptoms of whooping cough.
  • Chest rubs with essential oils like eucalyptus, rosemary or camphor can also help in the treatment of a whooping cough, but you need to dilute these oils. Add a few drops of whichever essential oil you wish to use with a tablespoon of almond or olive oil, before applying it to the chest.

Home remedies, although useful, should not be relied on as the sole treatment for whooping cough. You need to be particularly cautious in the treatment of children and babies, and should seek immediate medical attention rather than rely on any unproven treatments.

Diet for Whooping Cough

Whooping cough is caused by an infection, and there are no dietary causes for the condition. Your diet alone can have little to no effect on the outcome of the disease, but making modifications to your diet and eating habits can help with recovery. The main aim of dietary changes is to ensure adequate nutrition and to prevent dehydration. You don’t need to follow any specific diet, but should simply ensure that you consume wholesome nutritious meals that include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. This will help to boost immunity, helping your body overcome the infection more effectively.

Vitamin C supplements and bioflavanoids could also help boost immunity, as well as essential minerals like zinc. Seek advice from your doctor or nutritionist on supplements and dosages, as self prescription can pose risks.Try to eat smaller and more frequent meals, rather than the typical two large meals. This will help maintain nutritional intake despite the loss of appetite, and also lower the risk of vomiting. Make sure that you boost your fluid intake by consuming adequate amounts of water, plenty of fresh fruit juices and soups. Avoid the consumption of any caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

Suggestions for Whooping Cough

In addition to conventional treatment, the use of natural remedies and dietary modifications, it is imperative that some changes are made to your lifestyle. Here are some suggestions that will help with recovery from whooping cough:

  • Rest is absolutely essential for recovery. Avoid any kind of exertion and make it a point to relax and stay in bed until you have recovered. Do not try and resume work or other activities as soon as you start to feel better, but wait for a complete recovery. Your doctor would be the best source of advice in this regard.
  • Make sure that your environment is free of any airborne irritants that could severely aggravate the symptoms. Cigarette smoke and the fumes from fireplaces or even from the kitchen could cause irritation and greatly increase the severity of symptoms.
  • If the patient is a young child, baby or aged individual, their condition should be monitored closely for any signs of dehydration or worsening of symptoms. Any change should be brought to the attention of your health care provider immediately.

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