Once an infection caused by bacteria or viruses attacks the respiratory system of the body, the symptoms that results from this can be very harsh. As we all know, the respiratory system is composed of the lungs, the nose and other organs that make up the passageway of air into the body. Once a problem invades any of these parts, normal functioning may be hindered causing abnormalities in breathing and respiration. This can lead to serious health complications which can eventually cause death. One of the most common types of respiratory infections is whooping cough, medically known as pertussis. What is pertussis? How long does whooping cough last?
What is Whooping Cough?
Whooping cough is a type of respiratory infection that is caused by a bacterium known as Bordatella pertussis. This disease is known to produce severe bouts of coughing that could last for weeks and even as long as months. Whooping cough is likewise a very contagious disease. This can actually spread very easily from one person to another through respiratory droplets produced from sneezing and coughing. Pertussis can also lead to another complication such as pneumonia. This makes it a very serious or critical problem especially among adults aged 60 and above and as well as toddlers and infants (particularly those that are not yet immunized). Fortunately, with the help of medicine and certain antibiotics, whooping cough can be eliminated easily as long as the doctor’s prescription is religiously followed. Aside from this, proper rest and care can also speed up or hasten the recovery from such condition.
How can you get Whooping Cough?
Anyone can actually get this disease. However, those that have not received any vaccinations or preventive immunizations are considered more susceptible in obtaining the disease. In addition to this, the body does not produce any antibodies once it is already invaded by the causative agent of pertussis. This means that getting the disease for the second time is more likely possible. However, once the recommended shots are taken, the chances of having it again is lesser and the severity of the symptoms are also milder compared to the first encounter with the disease.
One this bacteria enters the upper respiratory tract, it will first lodge at the top of the throat or pharynx where it is connected to the nasal passages. This causes irritation of the area which results to the long bouts of coughing. Once the throat is infected, the saliva produced is also present with bacteria which make it easy to spread the disease from one person to another. These small droplets can stay on the air which can be inhaled by other individuals causing the transmission. Others can be transferred from shaking contaminated hands or touching contaminated inanimate objects. Once the bacteria has entered the system, it will take about 7 to 14 days for the incubation period before releasing or showing the first signs and symptoms of the disease.
What are the signs and symptoms
Just like what is mentioned above, most adults may experience less severe symptoms compared to children and infants. This may be due to the strength of the immune system as well as the completion of the required vaccinations. The symptoms of this disease varies depending from the stage of the infection. In some references, whooping cough consists of only 2 stages, while others can reach up to 3.
In the first stage, sneezing in addition to the presence of runny nose is evident. Others may also develop mild cough and may show signs of watery eyes and mild fever. This stage is considered the most contagious stage or phase of the disease. The second stage follows after experiencing the symptoms of the first phase. In this period, the severity of the cold symptoms starts to lessen, but the coughing gets worse. Coughing can actually become drier and more severe with the presence of hacking cough that is very hard to control. The length of a single bout of cough can be so long that is hinders normal breathing. Once the bout ends, a significant “whooping” sound is evident, which is why this disease is termed as such. Some may also experience vomiting and fatigue during the course of illness. It is in this stage that the symptoms of pertussis are severe and very difficult to manage.
How long does whooping cough last?
In general, whooping cough last for weeks to as long as 6 months. This is the reason why it is also termed as the 100 day cough because of its duration and severity. However, the length of each period or stage varies from one case to another. Stage one usually last for at least 1 to 2 weeks. The second stage can go even further and can last for about 1 to 6 weeks. In some references, a third stage is also possible in pertussis wherein the cough already starts to diminish. This phase of the infection can last for about 1 to 2 weeks. Nevertheless, this is only an estimate as to how long each stage will last in pertussis. The duration can still depend on how strong our immune is and how religiously we are following the orders of the doctor.