Pertussis, commonly referred to as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can be spread easily from person to person. The respiratory tract infection gets its name from the hacking noise patients tend to make when coughing followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like a whoop.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 24.1 million cases of whooping cough and about 160,700 deaths worldwide per year. Whooping cough can cause complications in babies and children, but proper recognition of signs and symptoms and prompt treatment can help ensure a healthy outcome.
Located in Chatham, New Jersey, Touchpoint Pediatrics is a nationally recognized, Highest-Level Patient-Centered Medical Home that is proud to offer families comprehensive pediatric care for an assortment of illnesses, including whooping cough. Discover more about this respiratory illness, including how it is diagnosed and the treatment offered by our board-certified pediatricians.
What Are the Symptoms of Whooping Cough?
Signs and symptoms of whopping cough depend on the stage of the disease. Whooping cough in its early stages often resembles cold-like symptoms, such as:
- Runny nose
- Mild cough
- Low-grade fever
- Pause in breathing (apnea)
As whooping cough progresses, its symptoms generally become much more severe. After one to two weeks, whooping cough symptoms will include:
- Episodes of multiple rapids coughs
- Whoop sound
In extreme cases, babies with pertussis can also stop breathing and become cyanotic, where the skin becomes blue or purple from a lack of oxygen.
How to Diagnose Whooping Cough
For children that contract whooping cough, early diagnosis and treatment is the key to minimizing damage and help recover more quickly. However, diagnosing whooping cough in its early stages can be challenging because of how closely its signs and symptoms mimic other common respiratory illnesses.
To accurately diagnose whooping cough, physicians may begin by listening to and simply asking questions. To confirm a diagnosis, medical tests may be required. A physician might take a sample of mucous from the back of the throat to check for evidence of whooping cough bacteria.
Whooping Cough Treatments
Because whopping cough is caused by a bacterial infection, it is most often treated with antibiotics. While the coughing fits caused by whooping cough can last up to ten weeks, antibiotics will reduce symptoms and lessen the contagiousness of the disease, helping to protect those around the infected child. If the respiratory illness is treated before coughing fits begin, the infection may be less serious than if the second stage of the disease has already taken effect.
For children diagnosed with whooping cough, it is important to minimize their exposure to irritants that may cause coughing fits, such as smoke, dust, and fumes. Parents should also ensure they stay hydrated and take any antibiotics prescribed to them by their pediatricians. Touchpoint Pediatrics recommends using a cool mist vaporizer that can help to break up mucous and calm the cough.
If the child has a severe case of whooping cough that requires hospitalization, they will not only be treated with antibiotics to control symptoms but may also receive oxygen and frequent suctioning of mucus. Patients with dehydration will receive fluids intravenously.
Vaccinations against whooping cough are the most effective form of prevention. However, when whooping cough is suspected, a thorough examination and early treatment are the keys to a positive outcome.
Advanced Medical Care at Touchpoint Pediatrics
When children become sick, parents are understandably concerned. Touchpoint Pediatrics is here to help lessen the stress of these difficult times by offering comprehensive care. Touchpoint pediatricians boast several awards and credentials and provide top medical services and treatments for families throughout Morristown, Summit, Berkeley Heights, Hoboken, and beyond from a central location in Chatham, NJ.
Parents who notice symptoms of whooping cough in their child and would like to have them seen by an experienced, board-certified pediatrician can reach out to the team at Touchpoint Pediatrics. Contact the office to schedule an appointment today or ask questions about whooping cough treatment.