Cold or Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Is It a Cold or Pertussis (Whooping Cough)?

Whooping Cough (or Pertussis), shares symptoms with the common cold, but unlike the common cold, pertussis is a bacterial illness that affects the respiratory passages, often resulting in increased inflammation of the respiratory passages. This inflammation creates the persistent dry cough. It is spread easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes, making it imperative to cover your mouth when you do either.

The initial symptoms are very similar to those of a common cold – runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, and an occasional low-grade fever.

So how do you know if that cold is something more? 

The severity of your cough is one way to know. With pertussis, occasional coughs turn into intense coughing fits, and become so severe that it becomes hard to breathe, sleep, or even eat. The classic sign (and how the term “whooping cough” came about) is intense coughing, followed by a gasping of breath that makes a “whoop” sound. This severe coughing can even lead to crack ribs, pneumonia, even hospitalization.

A vaccine for pertussis is usually administered in childhood. However, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases notes that the whooping cough vaccine wears off by the teen years, leaving adolescents at risk. Therefore, it is often recommended that a second vaccination be received around the age of 10-11. When detected in the early stages, pertussis can be treated with antibiotics.

If anyone in your household is plagued by a persistent cough, bring them into your local AppleCare location for an exam and appropriate treatment.