Whooping Cough (Pertussis): Causes and Treatments

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Your cough might seem like a casual, harmless chest cold at first. Your throat gets sore and you feel a bit tired and lethargic. The first two or three days pass normally and you start to get a mildly irritating yet seemingly regular cough. However, then your cough turns serious, starts melting into a choking type of sound, and persists for more than two weeks.

 Now, you should know that something serious is going on. These are the beginning signs of whooping cough, which is a bacterial infection that is often ignored. Sometimes it takes a severe bout of vomit-inducing coughing to get a person with this illness to visit the doctor.

 Still, some may avoid seeing a doctor, as they feel fine in between the coughing attacks. Whooping cough is a serious disease. However, in past years it hasn’t made a very big appearance. It almost seemed that this bacterial infection had disappeared.

 2006 has brought an increase in the reported cases of this serious illness, which can be fatal in young children and elderly people. The biggest problem with this disease is that patients will ignore it even though the cough can continue for as long as three months.

 Since coughing is not constant, many sufferers won’t go to a doctor — and even those who do go may be out of luck. That’s because doctors often can’t identify anything abnormal in the lungs when they listen to a patient’s breathing with a stethoscope.

 So, what’s the key to preventing this illness? Vaccinations should be administered to young children. They remain protected into their teens, but do require immunizations again during these years. If you want to protect yourself from whooping cough, ensure that young children and teenagers visiting you have been immunized against the disease.

 See a doctor immediately if you experience a persistent choking sensation and a severe and intermittent cough that lasts for more than a few weeks. Insist on further examination if a stethoscope shows your lungs are fine. You don’t want to miss out on treatment that can help you overcome this serious and potentially deadly disease.

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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »