There is no one as vulnerable as a newborn baby. Infants need a lot of protection and care and timely vaccination in order to prevent them from contracting infectious or contagious diseases.
One such highly contagious disease is pertussis or whooping cough as it is commonly called.
What Is Whooping Cough?
Whooping cough is an infectious bacterial disease that causes violent coughing, followed by sharp, shrill inhalations. It mainly affects children.
- The term ‘whooping’ is used for this infection because of the whoop-like sound that babies make while breathing once they start suffering from pertussis.
- Pertussis is highly contagious and infants below six months of age are the most vulnerable to this disease.
What Causes Whooping Cough In Babies?
Whooping cough or pertussis is basically a severe infection:
- It is caused by bacterial infestation. The bacterium responsible for this infection is called Bordetella pertussis.
- The areas that are affected by the infection are the lungs and the air passage.
- The bacterium comes in contact with the mucus lining in the trachea and the lungs, where it multiplies in number.
- This multiplication causes the mucus lining to thicken, thus constricting the air passages.
- This constriction causes the whooping cough sound in babies.
- The constant coughing is a reaction of the body to expel the excess mucus and provides relief.
- The coughing is also a potent way for the bacterium to spread and infect others in the vicinity of someone suffering from the infection.
Now that you are familiar with what causes the infection, you must be wondering about the symptoms that are associated with it.
Symptoms Of Whooping Cough In Babies:
Whooping cough is an infection of the lungs and windpipe and its symptoms are very similar to those of flu:
- The initial stages of the infection usually cause a mild fever, coughing, sneezing and a runny nose.
- After a span of around one or two weeks, these continuous flu-like symptoms subside.
- The infection is now characterized by fixed bouts of coughing known as coughing spells.
- These spells may occur any time and may occur with considerable frequency.
- During these coughing spells, your baby may get red or purple in the face with the exertion of the continuous coughing.
- Towards the end of the spell of coughing, you can hear the characteristic whooping sound.
- Your baby may even vomit once the spell of coughing ends. This is due to the exertion of the coughing as well as a natural bodily mechanism which is meant to expectorate the mucus that is causing the congestion.
- The interval between these spells is usually normal for your baby, that is, there is no breathing trouble or coughing.
These symptoms, like mentioned earlier, are similar to those of flu. In order to make sure that you do not mistake your baby’s pertussis for flu, visit your doctor and get all the necessary medical examinations done. It is, after all your baby’s health at stake!
Treatment For Whooping Cough In Babies:
It is a golden rule for any kind of disease that prevention is much better than cure. It is always desirable that you make sure you take all the precautions required to prevent the disease:
- Make sure that you are vaccinated during your pregnancy. It will keep you safe from pertussis and help prevent your baby from contracting it from you.
- Get your baby vaccinated as soon as possible. This will make sure that he or she does not suffer from pertussis.
- Make sure that you keep the surroundings of your infant free of any infection causing agent. Try to get everyone in the family vaccinated at regular intervals.
- Maintain the vaccination schedule for your baby.
- In case your baby does contract the infection, immediately consult your doctor for the right treatment. It would help to prevent your baby from suffering too much.
Whooping cough in infants and babies can be pretty dangerous. You need to take utmost care that your baby stays well protected from the infection.