Encyclopedia

Whooping cough

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough, also called whooping cough, is an infectious disease of the respiratory tract caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. p>

This is a serious and contagious disease that is characterized by a prolonged and persistent cough, which may be accompanied by difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

Whooping cough is particularly dangerous for young children, especially under the age of one year, where it can present with a severe clinical picture, and is associated with a risk of fatal complications.

In older children and adults, the disease is milder, but can still cause difficulty breathing and problems with the respiratory organs.

Prevention of whooping cough is essential and is achieved through regular vaccinations.

The pertussis vaccine is available in combination with other vaccines and is included in the national immunization programs of many countries.

Proper hygiene and avoiding contact with infected persons are also important to reduce the risk of spreading whooping cough.

Symptoms of whooping cough

Whooping cough usually occurs in 3 stages.

The first stage of whooping cough is called the catarrhal stage, running like a common runny nose. This stage usually lasts 1 to 2 weeks.

Symptoms resemble those of a cold – nasal congestion, coughing and sneezing.

Subfebrile temperature may also appear – 37-37.5 degrees. Only during this stage can the disease be stopped with antibiotics.

The second stage of whooping cough is characterized by strong and intense bouts of coughing. The duration of this phase is very variable, usually lasting from 1 to 6 weeks and the period can be as long as 10 weeks.

Attacks are more frequent at night and average around 15 per 24 hours. In most cases, patients can also scream during the attacks, since they cannot breathe and cannot defecate.

Newborns and young children may even stop breathing and turn blue from the spasms they experience when coughing.

The third stage is that of healing. It may last for weeks or months and is characterized by a chronic cough, but much weaker and with much milder attacks and spasms.

Causes of Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough is spread by contact with infected droplets that someone infected with the causative bacteria sneezes and coughs or by touching surfaces that already have infected droplets.< /p>

The bacterium develops in the respiratory tract, where it produces toxins that damage the tiny hairs (cilia) that are needed to remove the dust particles that enter with each inhalation from the environment.

This leads to inflammation of the respiratory tract and the typical dry cough that is the main sign of infection.

Whooping cough is contagious from the 7th day after exposure to the bacteria until 3 weeks after the onset of coughing fits. It is most contagious during the first stage.

The disease is milder in adults and adolescents and has symptoms of a common cold, and therefore it is not paid enough attention, so babies and small children are also infected, and it is much more severe in them.

And despite the availability of a vaccine against whooping cough, medical practice shows that the probability of infection remains very high.

Treatment of whooping cough / whooping cough

In younger children and babies, the risk of developing severe forms of whooping cough is higher, so they may need to be admitted to hospital.

For children and adults who do not need hospitalization, here are some tips to manage the illness at home after their doctor has diagnosed whooping cough

  • The sick person should be isolated, for example in a separate room, until at least 5 days have passed since the start of antibiotic treatment. If possible, everyone who comes into contact with the sick person should wear a protective mask to cover their face. Sometimes, if closer contact with the sick person is necessary, antibiotics can be prescribed to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  • Wash your hands well. The bacteria that cause whooping cough can spread through objects such as dishes.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, including plain water, juices and eat plenty of fruit to prevent dehydration.
  • Eat less but more often to reduce the risk of vomiting.
  • Use air humidifiers or vaporizers to soften nasal secretions and calm coughs.
  • Keep out irritants in the home environment, such as smoke, aerosols, strong fragrances, which can make coughing worse.< /strong>
  • Observe the baby very carefully with whooping cough for symptoms of dehydration such as dry lips and tongue, dry skin, decreased urine output. By notifying your GP immediately of any signs of dehydration.
  • Do not give cough medicine or other home remedies without consulting your GP.

Antibiotics for whooping cough to relieve the condition of the patient and prevent the spread of the bacteria that causes the disease.

Antibiotics are most effective if started early in the first phase of whooping cough.

The following antibiotic treatments are recommended: a 5-day course of azithromycin, a 7-day course of clarithromycin, or a 14-day course of erythromycin or trimethoprim.

Prevention of whooping cough

One of the most effective means of reducing the spread of whooping cough is prevention through immunization and appropriate hygiene measures.

Vaccines are of utmost importance for creating immunity in society.

By ensuring and having regular immunizations, the likelihood of spreading infectious diseases such as whooping cough is reduced.

The Bulgarian immunization calendar provides for the administration of the pertussis vaccine at several stages from early childhood to later years.

First of all, vaccination against whooping cough starts in newborns, giving it to babies between 2 and 4 months of age.

This first dose helps prevent severe disease in young children, who are particularly vulnerable. Then, at the age of 16 months, a reimmunization is performed, which strengthens the protection against whooping cough.

Revaccination at age 6 with a combined vaccine is the next step in the prevention strategy.

This provides additional protection at the beginning of children’s school life, when they are at greater risk of contact with other children and adults who may be carriers of the infection.

Providing proper hygiene measures also plays a key role in pertussis prevention.

Frequent hand washing is essential, especially before eating, after direct contact with other people or objects, and after coughing or sneezing.

This helps reduce the chance of passing the bacteria from one person to another.

Using masks is another useful measure to prevent the spread of whooping cough and other respiratory tract infections.

When we wear masks, especially if a family member is sick, we reduce the chance of spreading germs through coughs and sneezes.

In addition, it is important to encourage children and adults to avoid touching their nose or mouth. Frequent touching of the face, especially around the nose and mouth, can be an easy way to introduce the bacteria into the body.

Prevention of whooping cough is a task that requires the joint efforts of society, parents and health organizations.

Regular vaccinations, maintaining good hygiene and careful monitoring for symptoms are key elements in combating this disease.

Public awareness and the creation of an informed and responsible citizenry are also essential to the successful prevention of whooping cough and similar infections.

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