Living With Whooping Cough
Whooping cough can last anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks. You may continue to cough on and off, even with medicine. Over-the-counter medicines for coughing do not help with whooping cough. You should rest and drink fluids to prevent dehydration. You can try using a cool-mist humidifier or taking a warm bath or shower. These can help clear your lungs and make it easier to breathe. Avoid smoking and areas where the air is not clean. You may need to stay home from work or school. Talk to your doctor about when you can return to your regular schedule.
Is Whooping Cough Highly Contagious
Bordetella pertussis is considered an atypical bacterium that does not enter the bloodstream. It stays in the upper airways and interferes with the body’s ability to clear airway secretions by infecting the cells needed for this function. It spreads easily from person to person and can often be mistaken for the common cold in the early phases of infection.
If a person infected with Bordetella pertussis sneezes, laughs, or coughs, small droplets that contain the bacteria may fly through the air. A nearby person may breathe in the droplets and become infected. Once the bacteria is in the lungs, they attach to small hairs in the linings of the lungs. This leads to swelling and inflammation, causing a dry, long-lasting cough and other cold-like symptoms.
Do Adults Need Whooping Cough Vaccine
Whooping cough infections tend to affect babies more often and more severely than other people. However, older children and adults can also contract this illness.
Getting the whooping cough vaccine will lower your chances of getting the disease. In turn, this will help prevent you from passing the disease on to infants and other people around you.
The Tdap vaccine also reduces your risk of contracting diphtheria and tetanus.
However, the vaccines protective effects wear off over time.
Thats why the
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How Your Healthcare Provider Chooses
Your healthcare provider will only prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis if they think bacteria are causing your symptoms and youre at high risk of the infection not resolving on its own.
If a virus causes your bronchitis, they wont give you antibiotics because the antibiotics wouldnt do anything. If youre young and generally healthy, they probably wont prescribe anything either.
A Cochrane report last updated in 2017 found little evidence that antibiotics help acute bronchitis in healthy people, but recommended further study for patients that are elderly, frail, or have other conditions that may make bronchitis worse.
When considering treatment, your healthcare provider will look at:
- If youve had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic in the past
- Other health conditions, like autoimmune diseases, heart conditions, and lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Your history with smoking or vaping
- The oxygen levels in your blood
If your practitioner decides to prescribe an antibiotic, the treatment they choose will be based on your medical history, personal details, symptoms, diagnosis, and test results.
Caring For Whooping Cough At Home
Mild cases of whooping cough can be treated at home. Stay at home and away from people who are not in your family/whnau bubble for 3 weeks. This is to stop the infection spreading. If you are taking antibiotics, this isolation time goes down to 5 days from the day the antibiotics were started.
Make sure you and your child get as much rest as you can. Caring for your child with whooping cough is hard work, and the cough is often worse at night. Encourage small healthy meals and plenty of fluids.
If the cough is painful you can use paracetamol for pain relief. Make sure you follow directions and measure children’s doses accurately. Never give more than the recommended dose. If unsure, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for advice.
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Should Acute Bronchitis Be Treated With Antibiotics
Multiple studies show that people with acute bronchitis do NOT experience much benefit from antibiotic therapy, if any. In one study, for example, taking the antibiotic or an over-the-counter pain reliever was no more effective at decreasing the duration of a cough compared to placebo.
If I cough up green or yellow sputum, doesnt it mean I need an antibiotic?
This is a question I get a lot, and the answer is no.
Yellowish green sputum is what we call purulent sputum. It appears in about half of all patients with acute viral bronchitis. The yellow or green color comes from dead cells, debris, and mucus. It does NOT mean you have a bacterial infection, contrary to what you may think.
But Im also wheezing
Wheezing is common in patients with acute bronchitis and may come with mild shortness of breath. If you experience difficulty breathing, you should check in with your doctor for a physical. In addition to coughing, shortness of breath is also a potential symptom of the new coronavirus . Read more about what shortness of breath can look like with COVID-19 here.
Can Whooping Cough Be Prevented Or Avoided
Vaccination is the best way to prevent whooping cough. The pertussis vaccine is part of the recommended vaccine schedule for children and adults. Adults should get a pertussis booster every 5-10 years. Pregnant women and those in close contact with babies should be vaccinated. Talk to your doctor to make sure you and your familys vaccinations are up to date.
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Guidelines For Antibiotic Use
- Antibiotic treatment is recommended to reduce transmission, if initiated within 3 weeks of the onset of the cough after this time most people are no longer infectious.
- Antibiotic treatment is also recommended if the duration of the cough is unknown, and for pregnant women with pertussis.
- Prophylactic antibiotics are recommended for high risk contacts : children aged less than 1 year and their caregivers, children aged under 5 years who are not fully immunised, pregnant women and people at risk of complications, eg, severe asthma, immunocompromised.
- Antibiotic treatment is unlikely to alter the clinical course of the illness, unless given within the first few days of contracting the infection. However, as initial symptoms are often indistinguishable from a minor respiratory infection, antibiotics are not usually considered early on unless there is reason to suspect pertussis infection, e.g. family contacts.
See more: Antibiotics: choices for common infections BPAC, NZ, 2017
What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Whooping Cough
Whooping cough has 3 stages:
The whooping cough vaccine is very good but not 100% effective. Its protection goes away over time. People who have had whooping cough in the past or who have had a whooping cough vaccine can still get the disease. Their symptoms are different and are usually not as bad as those described above. It is important to think about whooping cough even if you have been vaccinated or had the illness in the past.
If you think that you have whooping cough you should contact your doctor.
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What Are The Treatments For Whooping Cough
The treatment for whooping cough is usually antibiotics. Early treatment is very important. It may make your infection less serious and can also help prevent spreading the disease to others.
Treatment after you have been sick for 3 weeks or longer may not help. The bacteria are gone from your body by then, even though you usually still have symptoms. This is because the bacteria have already done damage to your body.
Whooping cough can sometimes be very serious and require treatment in the hospital.
What Are The Symptoms Of Whooping Cough
The disease starts like the common cold, with a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and sometimes a mild cough or fever. Usually, after a week or two, severe coughing begins. The following are the most common symptoms of whooping cough. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Infants younger than age 6 months may not have a classic whooping cough, or it may be difficult to hear. Instead of coughing, infants may have a pause in their breathing, called apnea, which is very serious. You should consult your health care provider or call 911 if you observe pauses in breathing. Symptoms of whooping cough may include:
Coughing, violently and rapidly, until all the air has left the lungs and a person is forced to inhale, causing a “whooping” sound
Sore, watery eyes
Lips, tongue, and nailbeds may turn blue during coughing spells
Whooping cough can last up to 10 weeks and can lead to pneumonia and other complications.
The symptoms of whooping cough may look like other medical conditions. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
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People Are Also Reading
Among adults, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of all lingering coughs turn out to be whooping cough. Not only are adults coming down with the disease, they’re also spreading it to others. Children too young to be fully immunized are at highest risk because the five-shot DTaP vaccine series for young children isn’t finished until age 4 to 6.
What causes whooping cough?
Whooping cough — also called pertussisis — is caused by a highly contagious bacterial infection. The disease-causing bacterium, Bordetella pertussis travels through the air in tiny droplets released when a person coughs or sneezes. If whooping cough germs find a home in the windpipe, the bacteria start producing toxins that irritate the surrounding tissues. The body responds by producing lots of mucus that clogs the windpipe and causes a wracking cough.
If you live with someone who has whooping cough — and if you haven’t been vaccinated — there’s an 80 percent chance that you’ll also get sick. Even if you’ve been vaccinated in the past, you can still get the disease, though it may be a milder case. Without treatment, whooping cough remains contagious for about three weeks.
Is whooping cough dangerous?
What are the symptoms of whooping cough?
How is whooping cough diagnosed?
What’s the treatment for whooping cough?
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How can I prevent whooping cough?
Who Needs The Whooping Cough Vaccine And Booster
The news that two Plano high school students were diagnosed with pertussis in November 2015 has led to more patients asking me about the disease commonly known as whooping cough. These cases offer a good reminder to make sure your and your childrens vaccination records are up to date.
Cases of pertussis, a highly contagious respiratory tract infection, have been steadily increasing in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 15 percent increase in pertussis cases between 2013 and 2014, from 28,639 to 32,971. In Texas, there were 2,576 cases reported in 2014.
Whooping cough mostly strikes children who are too young to have completed the course of vaccinations and teenagers and adults whose immunity has faded. While deaths from whooping cough are rare, infants are most at risk, making it important that pregnant women and people who have close contact with infants make sure they are adequately vaccinated.
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Sometimes Hospital Treatment Is Needed
Young children and older adults who are very unwell with whooping cough may need to stay in hospital. Sometimes whooping cough may make it hard to breathe and drink, so hospital treatment may include:
- oxygen by a nasal tube during or after the coughing bouts
- fluids by an intravenous drip , or by nasogastric feeding .
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About Whooping Cough Tests
Before whooping cough vaccines became available in the 1940s, thousands of children in the United States died from the disease every year. Today, there are between 10,000 and 50,000 whooping cough cases reported each year in the United States. While most people fully recover from whooping cough, the disease can be deadly to young babies.
The best way to protect against whooping cough is with vaccination. Some people worry that childhood vaccines could cause autism. But many scientific studies have looked at this and have found no link between vaccines and autism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends whooping cough vaccinations for all babies and children, teens, pregnant women, and adults who have not been vaccinated or are not up to date on their vaccines. Check with your health care provider to see if you or child needs to be vaccinated.
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Are There Whooping Cough Outbreaks
Unlike polio, whooping cough was never eradicated in the U.S. This means there are always some active cases of whooping cough, which puts everyone at risk for outbreaks. There are regular outbreaks every few years that are growing in size. This is happening for many reasons, including:
Better tests for diagnosing whooping cough
Improved tracking and reporting methods
Newer vaccinations that provide shorter immunity than older vaccines
Immigration is not a cause of pertussis outbreaks, as every country vaccinates against pertussis.
Why Is Whooping Cough A Concern
Whooping cough is not under control in Aotearoa New Zealand. Every 35 years there are outbreaks with several thousand people affected.
More than half of babies under 1 year of age who get whooping cough will need to be treated in hospital, and 1 or 2 of every 100 hospitalised babies will die.
Having whooping cough can lead to other complications such as pneumonia, seizures, paralysis, deafness and blindness.
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How Can You Prevent Getting Sick From Whooping Cough
Getting the pertussis vaccine is the best way to prevent getting sick from whooping cough.
The vaccine is 90% effective, so while vaccinated people can still catch the disease, its much less likely. Unvaccinated children are 8 times more likely to get whooping cough than vaccinated children. Also, people who are vaccinated dont get as sick as people who arent vaccinated.
The pertussis vaccine is combined with vaccines against tetanus and diphtheria. It is given in two forms called DTaP and Tdap. Babies and children get DTaP in a series of five shots. Older children and adults get Tdap. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that teens and adults get the Tdap vaccine every 10 years.
Antibiotics For Cough From Other Causes
While its not likely that youll be prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis, it is possible that youll need antibiotics for an incessant cough caused by another bacteria.
An infection called whooping cough is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis and can cause a lingering cough. Luckily, its prevented in most cases by the pertussis vaccine, which has reduced whooping cough infections drastically.
If you havent been vaccinated against whooping cough , its possible a cough could be caused by the pertussis bacteria.
The symptoms of pertussis are very similar to those of bronchitis. They include initial cold-like symptoms, including:
- A sniffly, runny nose
- A mild, occasional cough
- Unusual pauses in breathing
In pertussis, especially in those who havent been vaccinated, these symptoms worsen and develop into unusual coughing fits with an accompanying high-pitched whoop sound. This usually happens one to two weeks after the initial infection.
These coughing fits can cause exhaustion and vomiting, and can last a long timeup to 10 weeks or more.
Pertussis infections are treated with antibiotics, and early treatment is essential to ease symptoms and prevent the spread of the disease.
Also, try to stay away from others, especially those too young to be vaccinated. Whooping cough is extremely dangerous to infants.
Antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat pertussis include:
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Can You Get Over Whooping Cough Without Antibiotics
Whooping cough is usually treated with antibiotics, which can help reduce the severity or length of time it takes to recover from the illness. However, antibiotics arent likely to help if the cough has persisted for more than two to three weeks. Taking cough medications probably will not help ease symptoms.
What Do The Results Mean
A positive result probably means you or your child has whooping cough. A negative result doesn’t completely rule out whooping cough. If your results are negative, your health care provider will probably order more tests to confirm or rule out a whooping cough diagnosis.
Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics can make your infection less serious if you start treatment before your cough gets really bad. Treatment may also help prevent you from spreading the disease to others.
If you have questions about your test results or treatment, talk to your health care provider.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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What Does The National Immunisation Program Cover
In every pregnancy, the whooping cough immunisation should be administered between 20 and 32 weeks. Under the National Immunisation Program , this vaccination is free of charge for all pregnant women.
Whooping cough in babies and childrenFind out how babies and children can catch whooping cough, how to treat your child at home, and when to have them vaccinated.