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Whooping cough in adults: how to treat it


There whooping cough it is a highly contagious condition. An infection that is far more common in infants, although people of all ages can get it. Symptoms of whooping cough tend to be less severe in adults than in children, with unvaccinated infants having the greatest risk of suffering serious harm from this infection, in addition to the more common complications from whooping cough.

In this study, however, we will try to deal with the symptoms and complications of whooping cough in adults, then dwelling on the main treatment options that, obviously, we recommend that you share with your referring doctor.

Symptoms of whooping cough in adults

As we have already had the opportunity to anticipate, the whooping cough it can affect adults and is often less severe than it does in children.

Adults therefore tend to experiment less severe symptoms of whooping cough than younger people, and for a very clear reason: adults have accumulated immunity from previous infections and vaccinations, and therefore their bodies are more "ready" to deal with this attack.

It should also be borne in mind that the bacteria that cause whooping cough are what are called Bordetella, which are spread through the air when someone who is infected with whooping cough and sneezes. Symptoms usually develop 5 to 10 days after exposure, but some people may not develop symptoms for several weeks.

Whooping cough develops in three stages.

In first phase, people are highly contagious. At first, whooping cough causes mild cold-like symptoms, lasting 1 to 2 weeks, such as runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, fatigue, mild cough.

In second phase, people can develop a severe and persistent cough that leaves them wheezing. The classic hissing occurs when people abruptly inhale the air to catch their breath after a cough. People are still contagious at this point in the evolution of the disease, with symptoms that can last from 1 to 6 weeks.

You then enter the third stage. Here the cough gradually improves and coughing attacks are less frequent. At this point, people are no longer contagious, but they run the risk of developing other infections that can slow down the recovery process.

The diagnosis of whooping cough in adults

A doctor can diagnose whooping cough by examining the patient's medical history and a person's current symptoms. However, it sometimes happens that doctors are misleading to diagnose whooping cough as a common cold or another respiratory infection, because whooping cough in adults does not generally cause severe symptoms.

If an adult is experiencing a cough persistent, the doctor who suspects the causes of this condition can recommend further medical tests, and correctly diagnose the problem. These tests may include a nasopharyngeal swab - a doctor collects a sample of mucus through the nose to test for B bacteria.

Read also: Natural remedies for cough

The complications of whooping cough

Whooping cough can make sleeping quite difficult. However, adults can develop secondary complications and much more serious discomfort: a violent cough can cause fainting or fractured ribs, for example. Other potential complications of whooping cough in adults include:

  • difficulty falling or staying asleep, called insomnia,
  • difficulty breathing during sleep, called sleep apnea,
  • accidental weight loss,
  • pneumonia,
  • eye infections.

Treatment of whooping cough in adults

Let's now deal with the treatment of whooping cough in adults, or its treatment which, like every other aspect of this study, we naturally recommend that you share with your referring doctor.

Generally, treatment depends on the duration of the disease and the severity of the symptoms. Treatment of whooping cough usually involves antibiotic therapy, and if done early it can actually reduce the severity of symptoms, speed up recovery times, and prevent people from passing the bacteria on to other people. The doctor may therefore also want to prescribe antibiotics for other family members who have come into close contact with the patient.

We also remember that according to doctors, antibacterial treatments are most effective during the first 2-3 weeks of infection or before the onset of coughing attacks. However, people rarely get treatment early enough to experience these benefits, complicating the healing journey.

There are also some tips and "home" remedies that can aid healing from whooping cough, such as:

  • stay hydrated,
  • to rest,
  • practice proper hand hygiene,
  • often eat small meals rather than a few large meals,
  • avoid cough triggers, such as smoking, strong chemicals, and allergens.

We remind you that whooping cough does not respond to traditional cough medicines, and therefore we should not take over-the-counter, do-it-yourself drugs, in the hope that they can be of relief. Finally, we highlight how recovery from whooping cough can take several weeks, and whooping cough can still continue to leave some aftermath for some months.

Risk factors

Whooping cough is highly contagious and vaccinations against whooping cough wear out with advancing age. Adults who have not received the booster vaccine for whooping cough have a higher risk of getting this infection.

Other factors that increase the risk of getting whooping cough include:

  • being in close contact with someone who has whooping cough,
  • have a weakened immune system,
  • pregnant.

To find out more, we recommend that you talk to your family doctor and understand how to cope with any evolution of the disease.


Video: Recognizing and Treating Whooping Cough (January 2022).