Whooping cough, also known as Peruses is an infection of the respiratory system. It's characterized by severe coughing spells that end in a "whooping" sound when the person breathes in. Although whooping cough can occur at any age, it is most severe in immunized children and in infants under 1 year of age. But more cases have been reported in teens and adults, because their immunity has faded since their original vaccination. Pertussis is a serious bacterial infection of the lining of the breathing passages, particularly in the windpipe area.
Signs and Symptoms:
Symptoms of the infection include prolonged, violent, coughing spasms that often cause thick mucus and severe inhaling difficulties. The first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a common cold such as runny nose, sneezing, mild cough and low-grade fever. After about 1 to 2 weeks, the dry, irritating cough evolves into coughing spells. During a coughing spell, which can last for more than a minute, the child may turn red or purple. At the end of a spell, the child may make a characteristic whooping sound when breathing in or may vomit. Between spells, the child usually feels well. During these spasms, the tongue may protrude, the eyes may bulge, and the face may become discolored. Mucus may be produced, and vomiting may occur.
Pertussis is highly contagious. The bacteria spread from person to person through tiny drops of fluid from an infected person's nose or mouth. These may become airborne when the person sneezes, coughs, or laughs. Other people then can become infected by inhaling the drops or getting the drops on their hands and then touching their mouths or noses. Infected people are most contagious during the earliest stages of the illness up to about 2 weeks after the cough begins. Antibiotics shorten the period of contagiousness to 5 days following the start of antibiotic treatment.
The diagnosis depends on the severity of the disease. Various tests are performed which include Culture tests- A history of symptoms and physical examination leads to a diagnosis, which may be confirmed by detecting the bacteria in cultures or smears of secretions from the nose and upper throat. The doctor takes a nose or throat swab or suction sample. The sample is then sent to a lab and cultured or otherwise tested for whooping cough bacteria. Blood tests- A blood sample may be drawn and sent to a lab to check for a high white blood cell count. White blood cells help the body fight infections, such as whooping cough. A high white cell count typically indicates the presence of infection or inflammation. This is a general test and not specific for whooping cough, however. A chest X-ray -The doctor may want to use an X-ray to check for the presence of fluid in your lungs, which can occur when pneumonia complicates whooping cough and other respiratory infections.
Whooping cough is an upper respiratory infection caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium, which is transmitted through droplets of respiratory secretions that are coughed or sneezed into the air by someone who's already infected. Once the bacteria enter inside the airways, the bacteria multiply and produce toxins that interfere with the respiratory tract's ability to sweep away germs. Thick mucus develops deep inside the airways, causing uncontrollable coughing.
The bacteria also cause inflammation that narrows breathing tubes in the lungs. This narrowing leaves the patient gasping for air, sucking in air with a high-pitched "whoop". Emphysema, cerebral hemorrhage and encephalitis can occur. In infants younger than 6 months of age, whooping cough can even be life-threatening.
The best way to prevent whooping cough is three-in-one combination, known as the DTaP vaccine during infancy. The vaccine consists of a series of five shots, typically administered in the arm and given to children at these ages:2 months 4 months 6 months 12 to 18 months 4 to 6 years It takes at least three shots of the pertussis vaccine to fully protect a child against whooping cough, but a total of five shots are recommended by age 6. Because immunity from the pertussis vaccine tends to wane by age 11, and because of the increase in cases of whooping cough in adolescents and teens between 11 and 18 years of age, doctors now recommend a booster shot for those in this age group — the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine, or Tdap.
The following steps are essential for dealing with coughing spells apply to anyone being treated for whooping cough at home:
Get plenty of rest. A cool, quiet and dark bedroom may help you relax and rest better.
Drink plenty of fluids. Water, juice and soups are good choices.
Eat smaller meals. To avoid vomiting after coughing, eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than large ones.
Avoid banana, dairy, wheat and meat products.
Use a mist vaporizer to help soothe irritated lungs and to help loosen respiratory secretions.
Clean the air. Keep the home free of irritants that can trigger coughing spells, such as tobacco smoke and fumes from fireplaces.
Treatment is b ased on antibiotic therapy, which may also be prescribed to other members of an infected person's household to prevent the spread of infection. The infected person should be isolated for five days after antibiotic therapy has been started, and exposure to infants should be strictly avoided. Respiratory complications can be severe in infants and may include suffocation (asphyxiation.) Even after treatment to destroy the bacteria, your body continues to repair the damage to the lining of your trachea. As a result, the cough often lingers after the initial illness. With time, coughing usually lessens but can persist for six weeks or longer.
Aconite - should be taken during the first 24 hours that symptoms appear. Drosera is used for dry, spasmodic cough with sharp chest pain and a tickling sensation in the throat.
Hepar sulphuricum can be used for later stages of pertussis with wheezing, little mucus production, and coughing that comes on when any part of the body gets cold.
Ipecacuanha is effective for spasmodic cough and gagging or vomiting;
Phosphorus can be used for several different types of cough, most particularly a dry, harsh cough.
Spongia is effective for harsh, barking cough that produces no mucus and is associated with a tickling in the throat.
Coltsfoot has traditionally been used to treat coughs, whooping cough, asthma, excess mucous, bronchitis, and laryngitis. Use as a tea or a tincture.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), a very common culinary herb also has medicinal properties qualifying it as a wonderful cough remedy.
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) and hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) are used for treating coughs, colds, and bronchitis.
Wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina) continues to be a favorite ingredient in cough and cold remedies.
Red clover is an expectorant and anti-spasmodic especially good for children (over the age of 2) with whooping cough. A tea of the dried flower tops is the most convenient; a tincture may also be used.
There are a few home remedies given below for the treatment of whooping cough.Garlic is an effective home remedy for whooping cough. Extract the juice from garlic and give it to the patient in the doses of 1 tsp, twice or thrice a day.
Ginger has proved beneficial in treating whooping cough. In 1 cup of Fenugreek decoction, add 1 tsp of fresh ginger juice and some honey for taste. You can prepare the Fenugreek decoction easily at home. In 250 ml water, boil 1 tsp of Fenugreek seeds till it reduces to half.
Almond oil is of great value in the treatment of whooping cough. Take about 5 drops of almond oil and mix with 10 drops each of fresh white onion juice and ginger juice. This mixture has to be taken three times in a day for a fortnight.
Take 1 tsp of fresh radish juice and mix with an equal quantity of honey. Also add some rock salt in it. This home made syrup should be given to the patient three times in a day.
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