*Please note that pertussis is not a treated condition at the Lung Institute. For a complete list of the lung diseases that we do treat, please click the link here.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pertussis or whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Most people experience a severe coughing spell immediately followed by a deep intake of a “whooping” breath. Pertussis can make it very difficult for an individual to breathe.
Pertussis is caused by a bacterial respiratory infection called Bordetella pertussis or Bordetella parapertussis. Whooping cough can be found in infants, children and adults of any age. When the presence of pertussis is found in an infant, it can possibly cause permanent disability or even death. The disease is easily spread between people by either sneezing or coughing. With the infection typically lasting 6 weeks, there are a number symptoms associated with this condition.
Once a person has been exposed to pertussis, symptoms can start to develop up to a week after being infected. The disease can also have similar features to the common cold. The deep and extended cough usually starts 10 to 12 days later. With pertussis, a normal cough commonly ends with a “whooping” noise. This only occurs when a person tries to take a breath. Coughing can lead to other symptoms such as a runny nose, fever or diarrhea.
Diagnosing the condition is relative and based on symptoms. The disease is easily discovered by the person’s cough or ability to breathe. Occasionally, a doctor may take a mucus test in order to make sure the result is that of pertussis. A blood test may also be conducted for the disease in order to measure how many lymphocytes are in the body.
Whooping cough is not the once dangerous disease it was several decades ago. Vaccinations are now available for children and adults alike that help prevent the occurrence of the disease. If a person is diagnosed with pertussis, antibiotics are used to relieve the symptoms and prevent it from spreading to others. Some other treatments might be used depending upon the severity of the disease.
If you would like to understand pertussis more, the Mayo Clinic has posted a helpful video here about the effects of the condition overall.