Diagnosing whooping cough at an early age is essential for proper treatment. Scroll down through this article for more information.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a disease related to the respiratory tract. It is caused by bacteria known as Bordetella pertussis. A couple of decades ago, whooping cough was one of the most prominent causes of illnesses and death in people all over the world. However, today due to the availability of treatment methods and vaccines, the number of deaths and people suffering from this disease have considerably reduced. One of the most characteristic features of this disease is the sound produced on coughing which sounds like a ‘whoop’, hence the name whooping cough.
Whooping Cough: An Overview
A bacterial infection in the respiratory tract causes whooping cough. Although not limited to it, babies and children are at the highest risk of suffering from this condition. Secondly, people having a weak immune system or those who come into close contact with a person suffering from whooping cough, are also at a risk of contracting this disease. It is a highly contagious disease and can be transmitted from one person to the other through the medium of droplets sprayed during coughing or sneezing. In the initial days, symptoms like that of common cold will appear. It should be noted that the disease is highly contagious even in this phase. The actual symptoms will, however, appear a week after contracting the disease.
Methods to Diagnose Whooping Cough
A disease is primarily diagnosed by checking the signs and symptoms of it. If you take a look at whooping cough symptoms, you will find that in the initial phase, the symptoms appear more or less like those of common cold, for instance – mild fever, dry cough, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, etc. Therefore, in this phase, it is difficult to diagnose the disease. On the other hand, after a week, the symptoms worsen and one may suffer from symptoms like a severe cough, which makes a sound like ‘whoop’, extreme fatigue, vomiting sensation, face turning red or blue, etc. Diagnosing whooping cough at this stage is fairly easier. However, in some cases, the person may not develop the characteristic sound of the whooping, or the sound may not be audible. In these people, the only noticeable symptom is persistent and long-lasting cough.
Apart from the signs and symptoms, there are several tests that are helpful in the diagnosis of whooping cough. Firstly, X-ray of the chest is beneficial for diagnosing infection and presence of fluid in the lungs and chest. Secondly, the doctor will take a sample of the nose or throat culture and send it to the laboratory for tests. These tests will also help in determining bacterial infection in the respiratory tract. Thirdly, a test known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) helps in identifying the presence of bacteria in the body. Lastly, the doctor may also ask the infected person to undertake a blood test. The white blood cell count of the person is higher if he suffers from any infections. Once the condition is diagnosed, the doctor will start treatment immediately, which mostly includes antibiotics.
These were some of the methods used by the doctor for to diagnose whooping cough. Lastly, remember that you should keep a watch on the symptoms and consult the doctor immediately if any of the above mentioned signs and symptoms are observed. Take care!