Q:

What are symptoms and causes of whooping cough?

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Quick Answer

Symptoms of whooping cough, or pertussis, are runny nose, nasal congestion, and red and watery eyes, according to Mayo Clinic. It is caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Full Answer

Whooping cough is a respiratory tract condition characterized by severe and excessive coughing, which is accompanied by a whooping noise as the patient tries to breath, notes WebMD. Bouts of coughing can become severe enough to cause a decrease in the oxygen supply of the blood and cause other medical conditions, such as pneumonia.

Whooping cough is extremely contagious, and people spread it to one another by coughing, sneezing or by being in close proximity to other people with it, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although most teens and adults recover from it without any lingering effects, some side effects for those who suffer complications include broken or bruised ribs, abdominal hernias, and broken blood vessels within the eyes or the skin, says Mayo Clinic. Infants may experience pneumonia, labored breathing, dehydration and brain damage.

The condition is diagnosed through a physical exam, which may include tests such as a chest X-ray or blood testing, notes WebMD. It is generally treated with antibiotics, and people who are in constant contact with the patient may also be required to take antibiotics. Infants under 4 months old are often treated in a hospital so doctors can closely monitor recovery.

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