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What are the Signs of Whooping Cough?

Also known as pertussis, whooping cough is a highly communicable (contagious) bacterial upper respiratory infection. Although it is whooping coughcommonly associated with babies and small children, anyone can develop whooping cough if exposed to someone who is already infected. According to the American Lung Association, unvaccinated children and adults are 80 to 100 percent more likely to contract whooping cough when exposed to it by someone with whom they live, work or go to school. The risk drops to 20% for children and adults who have been inoculated.

Because pertussis is highly contagious, the pediatricians at 7 Days Pediatrics in Edison, NJ, advise parents of babies and young children to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of whooping cough and to consult with a pediatrician as quickly as possible if a member of the household has been exposed.

Whooping Cough Diagnosis and Treatment in Edison, NJ

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incubation period for the bacteria that causes whooping cough, Bordetella pertussis, can be anywhere from five days to three weeks. Whooping cough is a progressive condition which develops in three phases:

Catarrhal Stage - In the first (and most contagious) stage, the symptoms are usually similar to a common cold, such as runny nose, mild cough, low-grade fever in some cases and breathing apnea in babies. This stage generally lasts one to two weeks, and can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are so similar to a regular cold or flu.

Paroxysmal Stage - Every case is different, but the later stage of whooping cough can last anywhere from one to ten weeks. The main symptoms include strong and uncontrollable bursts of coughing followed whooping sounds. The coughing episodes can be so severe that they are followed by throwing up and physical exhaustion.

Convalescent Stage - Recovery from pertussis is gradual, with the coughing fits gradually tapering off over a two to three week period on average. Even in recovery, whooping cough patients are susceptible to other respiratory problems and distress.

Because it is caused by a bacterial infection, pertussis is treated with antibiotics, which are most effective in the early stages. Pediatricians and the CDC also recommend that parents be vigilant for signs of dehydration, ensuring that enough water and fluid, as well as small meals are consumed to minimize vomiting after coughing fits. Consult with a physician before using cough syrup and maintain as clean an environment as possible to minimize additional irritants to the throat and respiratory system.

Find a Pediatrician in Edison, NJ

For more information on the signs, symptoms, prevention and treatment options for whooping cough and other pediatric respiratory problems, contact 7 Days Pediatrics by calling (732) 548-3210 to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician today. And our fax number is (732)906-3966.

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