Pertussis is a highly infectious ailment that results in intolerable and aggressive coughing. The coughing can hinder the breathing process. A deep "whooping" sound is very frequently heard when the patient strives to take breath.

Causes of Pertussis

Whooping cough is a breathing infection due toBordetella pertussisor Bordetella parapertussisbacteria in the upper portion of the respiratory system. It is a severe disease that can generate permanent disability in infants, and can prove to be fatal at times.

When an infected person sneezes or coughs, small droplets carrying the bacteria travel through the air, and the disease is easily transmitted from one person to other person.
The infection generally lasts for 6 weeks.

Whooping cough can be witnessed in people of any age. Before the availability of vaccines, the disease was most general amongst infants and young children. Most children are vaccinated prior to going to school, the higher proportions of cases is reported among adolescents and adults.

Symptoms of Pertussis

Initial symptoms are identical to the common cold and generally unearths about a week after getting infected by the bacteria.

Severe instances of coughing begin about 10 to 12 days later. Most children cough with a "whoop" sound. The sound is generated when the patient tries to breathe. The whoop noise is seldom reported in patients below 6 months of age and in adults as well.

Coughing episodes may result in vomiting or a periodic loss of consciousness. Pertussis should always be diagnosed when vomiting is accompanied with coughing. In infants, choking episodes are normal.

Pertussis symptoms are:

  • Running nose
  • Mild fever (102 °F or lower)
  • Diarrhea

Exams and Tests

The primary diagnosis is generally based on the symptoms. Nevertheless, when the symptoms are not very clear, pertussis may be tough to detect. In very young infants, the signs may be the reason caused by pneumonia instead.

To ensure, the health care professional may collect a sample of mucus from the nasal secretions and prescribe it for lab test, which tests it for pertussis presence. While this can offer an accurate detection, the test is a bit time consuming and the treatment basically begins prior to the availability of test results.


If started treating early enough with antibiotics like erythromycin can reduce the symptoms and it may eliminate it quickly. Unfortunately, most patients are diagnosed at a later stage of symptoms, when antibiotics lose its effectiveness. However, the drugs can assist reducing the patient's ability to transmit the disease to others.

Infants, under 18 months of age, require constant monitoring as their breathing may be stopped for short period while coughing episodes. Infants with severe pertussis should be hospitalized immediately. A highly humid oxygen tent can be used.

Fluids may be offered using via if coughing spells are continuous and serious enough to stop the person from in taking enough fluids.

Sedatives (drugs to allow you to sleep) may be recommended for young children.

Cough mixtures, suppressants, and expectorants are generally not helpful and should not be used.


DTaP vaccination, one of the prescribed childhood vaccines, safeguards children against pertussis infection. DTaP shots can be safely offered to infants. Five DTaP vaccines are prescribed. They are generally provided to children at ages 2, 4, and 6 months. After this 15-18 months, and then in 4-6 years are the prescribed timings.

The Tdap vaccine should be shot around age 11 or 12, and after this on every 10 years. Some health care bodies vehemently recommend that adults up to the age of 65 years should receive the adult form of the vaccine against pertussis.

Home Treatment

There are several natural treatments that an individual can rely upon to alleviate the severeness of pertussis. The doses of five drops of garlic juice can be given to the children approximately two or three times a day. Fresh radish juice blended with honey and a small amount of rock salt can be beneficial also. It should be given almost three times a day.

The other prominent home treatment for pertussis is almond oil. Five drops of almond oil blended with fresh ginger and white onion juice should be administered thrice a day for roughly two weeks. Resting is the most important remedy for the person who has whooping cough. Sleep is a prominent part of the healing process for the human body.

Possible Complications

  • Pneumonia
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage due to dearth of oxygen
  • Ear infections
  • Mental disorder
  • Convulsions
  • Bleeding nose
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Reduced or stopped breathing (apnea)
  • Death

When to See a Medical Practitioner

Call your health care professional if you or your child unearths signs of pertussis.

  • Bluish skin color, which is a sign of lack of oxygen
  • High fever
  • Episodes of stopped breathing (apnea)
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Continuous vomiting

Outlook (Prognosis)

In older children, the outlook is basically very encouraging. Infants suffer the highest risk of death, and require to be taken care of very minutely.