Signs of Pertussis in Babies
| November 30, 2011
Pertussis is a contagious infection that occurs in the respiratory tract. This hacking cough is accompanied by heavy breathing and whooping sound. This ailment can affect people of all ages, including toddlers and babies. Pertussis in babies usually starts as a regular respiratory infection, but as the condition progresses, the coughing becomes quite severe.
Decades ago, pertussis in babies was one of the leading causes of illness and death in children across the US. Fortunately, ever since the vaccine was developed in the 1970s, the actual count of pertussis in babies has been on a decline. Nevertheless, it is possible to see the signs and symptoms of pertussis in babies who are too young to be vaccinated, or even in those teens with low immunity.
The signs of pertussis in babies could take anywhere between 3 and 12 days to appear after exposure to the bacteria. At first, the symptoms of pertussis in babies usually include a dry cough, sneezing, a runny nose, nasal congestion, mild fever and watery eyes. However, within a week or two the symptoms worsen to a great extent. Some of the more severe signs of pertussis in babies include:
- Hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath, or a whoop
- Changes in the color of the facial skin
- Coughing up thick phlegm
- Nausea and vomiting
In case you notice any of these symptoms on your baby or toddler, it is important that you speak to a doctor immediately. If not treated, pertussis in babies and toddlers could result in abdominal hernia, broken blood vessels and cracked ribs. In case the condition lasts for more than a week or two, it could also lead to dehydration, pneumonia, ear infection, breathing problem and in some severe cases, brain damage. It is essential therefore, to get pertussis in babies and toddlers treated, as soon as possible.
Several people try to manage pertussis, by taking over the counter medication. However, these medicines act as suppressants and only keep you from coughing; they do not get rid of the infection. You need to undergo a proper diagnosis and follow the course of medication as suggested by the doctor. In most instances, antibiotics are required to treat pertussis in toddlers and children. In case your child has difficulty in holding down food or medication, he or she may need to be hospitalized. In order to keep the bacteria from spreading, your child may also need to be isolated for a while. Apart from medication, the doctor may also recommend that your child:
- Drink a lot of warm fluids
- Have small and light meals at regular intervals
- Get a lot of sleep and rest
- Follow strict hygienic measures to keep the bacteria from growing
- Stay in an environment that is vaporized and free of allergens
Pertussis in babies is serious and needs to be treated by a health care provider as soon as possible.
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