Pertussis is a medical term for whooping cough. It is a respiratory disorder featured by the inflammation of the lining of the airways. Trachea and the bronchi are usually affected by this kind of cough. Trachea is the windpipe, while the bronchi are two airway passages that branch off from the trachea to the lungs.
Pertussis or whooping cough got the name after the chief symptom and that is a hacking cough, which is instantly followed by a strong inhale of breath that sounds like a whoop. The main cause that is responsible for the occurrence of the whooping cough is the bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis is highly contagious respiratory condition and can be easily transmitted from person to person through the droplets when the person with this kind of infection coughs or sneezes.
Whooping cough is a disorder that most frequently appears in infants and children and rarely in adults, even though there are cases when it developed in older people as well. When whooping cough occurs in infants who are still fragile and weak, the symptoms of this condition may be very severe for them. There have also been reported some fatal cases of this condition, unfortunately. It is highly recommended that all children get the whooping cough vaccine in order to prevent the incidence of this infection later in their lives.
Stages of whooping cough
The first stage of whooping cough is called catarrhal stage. After the bacteria enter the body, the incubation period needs to pass before the first signs appear. The incubation period usually lasts about seven to ten days. After that, whooping cough progresses into the next stage and symptoms are different. The most ordinary early symptoms of whooping cough are runny or blocked nose, watery eyes, sneezing and dry cough, as well as sore throat and slightly raised temperature. The person with whooping cough has these early symptoms for about week or two and then another stage of this condition begins.
The second stage of the whooping cough is called paroxysmal phase. The most common signs of this stage are intense bouts of coughing that bring up thick phlegm, last about minute or two, and a whoop sound comes after coughing. Moreover, coughing may be followed by vomiting and extreme tiredness and exhaustion. Additionally to these symptoms, redness in the face from the effort of coughing may appear. The children may also choke or become blue in the face because of the intense bouts of coughing. This stage of whooping usually lasts about two weeks and the symptoms can even lasts after the bacteria are eliminated from the body completely.