is whooping cough?
Whooping cough is also known as pertussis. It is a highly infectious
disease, which can be very dangerous in the first year of life.
After an incubation period of 7 - 14 days, the child begins with
what appears to be an ordinary cold and a cough. The child develops:
cough, which, after about 10 days, becomes very severe and frightening
for the child
The child experiences bouts of coughing which are so persistent
that breathing-in becomes difficult. After continual coughing the
child attempts to gasp for air and as the air is inhaled down through
the inflamed airways a peculiar whooping sound is produced. Once
heard, this sound is never forgotten! Whooping cough is a horrendous
experience for the child, the parents and the family. Throughout
the night the poor child coughs, coughs and whoops as he fights
for breath, then coughs, coughs and coughs again followed by more
gasping for breath and whooping. The unrelenting session finally
ends with the child vomiting. This coughing phase can last for two
months. The child becomes exhausted. The strain of coughing can
burst blood vessels in the eye turning the white part of the eye
bright red. A child with whooping cough is a sorry sight!
disease can be serious in babies. Inability to breathe in after
a coughing spasm can turn the child blue and has proven fatal in
some cases. The immense strain of coughing can damage the sensitive
lungs and cause blood vessels in the brain to rupture to produce
a brain hemorrhage. Vomiting can lead to dehydration, and further
problems include convulsions, ear infection and lung infections
such as bronchopneumonia and bronchitis.
gets whooping cough?
Any child that has not been vaccinated is at high risk of picking
up this dangerous disease. Despite all the controversy about side
effects from the vaccine I strongly recommend immunisation against
this disease - the first injection to be given at the age of 2 months.
causes whooping cough?
Unlike many of the infectious diseases, whooping cough is not caused
by a virus but by another type of infecting organism - a bacterium.
This 'bug' or bacterium is spread through minute droplets that are
propelled through the air, when the child coughs or sneezes. This
disease is very infectious.
you prevent whooping cough?
There is only one way to prevent this disease from affecting your
child - immunisation at 2 months, 3 months and four months! This
disease can be eradicated.
should you treat whooping cough?
YOU SUSPECT WHOOPING COUGH, CONTACT YOUR GP IMMEDIATELY
temperature down (see fever control article)
a coughing spasm sit your child upright, holding a bowl under
the chin for him to cough any sputum or vomit into
possible, sleep in the same room. Coughing bouts, gasping for
air and vomiting can be frightening for a child alone at night
the day, give him drinks and small snacks immediately after a
coughing bout that ends in vomiting. You have to get some nourishment
into him before the next coughing spasm starts
NOT SMOKE near your child
cough can persist for 8 - 12 weeks, so do be patient!
babies rarely whoop. So if your baby has a cold followed by a cough
that is worsening, contact your GP. He may take special swabs to
confirm the diagnosis. If given early in the course of the disease,
certain antibiotics such as erythromycin and cotrimoxazole can modify
GP may also prescribe sedation such as vallergan or phenergan for
night time use, but sedative and cough medicines have not been proven
to be of any great benefit.