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Once upon a time, if the medical professionals told you to vaccinate against a disease, you went along with it without asking questions. After all, they were the experts, so why would you think they might be wrong? Nowadays however, people are questioning the value and safety of various vaccines before taking them, and this has led to a great amount of discussion and debate around the world.
What Is Whooping Cough?
Whooping cough is an illness that initially presents like a cold or flu, but then becomes more severe with some of the symptoms lasting for weeks. It can affect anyone at any age, and is particularly dangerous in babies and children, or the elderly with respiratory problems. It is a highly contagious illness, and the CDC suggests that just one infected person can spread the illness to up to 15 others.
Unfortunately, most people have no clue that they even have whooping cough, until the characteristic cough kicks in, and because it is more contagious at the beginning of the illness, people spread it unwittingly before knowing they are really sick. In babies, the risk of further complications is much higher, and it can result in pneumonia.
Symptoms of Whooping Cough
The symptoms of whooping cough are similar to other cold and ‘flu viruses, and include:
- Nasal congestion and runny nose
- Red eyes that are watery
The cough is not like a regular cough. It almost sounds like a deep bark or a ‘whoop’ hence the common name whooping cough. As the illness progresses the symptoms can get worse, and an accumulation of thickened mucus in the airway can cause coughing that is uncontrollable. When the cough gets to this point, it can cause the following symptoms:
- Redness of the face
- Blue tinge to the face
- Extreme tiredness
With babies, they may not have much of a cough, but they can have difficulty breathing, and in some cases may stop breathing temporarily.
Whooping cough vaccines were created and made available in the 1940s, and so many who are adults now, were most likely vaccinated as a child. However, the effect of the vaccine does not last forever, so it is recommended that adults get a booster shot, called Tdap. Similar to vaccines given to babies, Tdap combines vaccines for whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria.