Whooping Cough - Describe Your Experience

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Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Overview

Whooping cough is an infectious bacterial illness that affects the respiratory passages. First described in the 1640s, whooping cough is so named because spasms of coughing are punctuated by a characteristic "whoop" sound when the person inhales deeply after a coughing spell.

  • Whooping cough is one of the most common vaccine-preventable disease among children younger than 5 years of age in the United States. It is also known as pertussis -- the "P" in the familiar DTaP combination inoculation routinely given to children and the "p" in Tdap given to adolescents and adults.
  • Despite the widespread use of vaccines, whooping cough has made a comeback in recent years. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prior to the introduction of the pertussis vaccine, there were an average of 175,000 cases of whooping cough each year. This dropped off to fewer than 3,000 cases per year in the 1980s; in the U.S. alone, a total of 27,550 cases of pertussis were reported in 2010.
  • The World Health Organization estimates there were 195,000 deaths from whooping cough worldwide in 2008, making this easy-to-prevent disease one of the leading causes of illness and death.
  • The prevalence of whooping cough in children is increasing. In 2010, the CDC saw an increase in reported cases among 7- to 10-year-olds.
  • In June 2010, the State of California declared a whooping cough epidemic. In September 2010, the California Department of Health reported 4,017 cases of confirmed, suspected, and probable whopping cough, the largest number of cases since 1955.
  • In April 2012, the State of Washington also reported a whooping cough epidemic, with over 1,000 cases reported in the year. The State of Washington estimates there may be 3,000 cases of whooping cough by the end of the year, which is more cases than have been seen in 60 years.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: Marie, 45-54 Female Published: October 15

I've just been diagnosed with whooping cough. I thought I had bronchitis and had completed a 10-day dose of Cipro. I've had a horrible cough (think seal barking) for more than a month and went back to the doctor. It turns out I have all the symptoms of whooping cough and have for over 30 days. I also have asthma. Incidentally, Albuterol was not effective in helping my coughing fits. Symptoms I am experiencing are: exhaustion, bronchospasms (severe), runny nose, mucous, loss of appetite, weight loss, restless sleep, frequent severe coughing fits, burning in chest/lungs and tightness in my chest. I am now on a 7-day course of Biaxin, steroid inhaler and prescriptive cough medicine. -Marie

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Comment from: 55-64 (Patient) Published: July 22

I contracted pertussis three years ago when I was 56 years old. It started with symptoms similar to bronchitis, but with the severe coughing others have described. I frequently coughed until vomiting, even if I had only consumed fluids. After two weeks of progressively severe coughing, I went to the doctor who took a swab for the lab. By then I was coughing up black phlegm. The results were positive for pertussis, and he gave me azithromycin which gradually helped lessen the coughing spasms. I coughed for another 6 months. Three years later, I continue to have occasional bronchial spasms I never previously had, frequently at night. Also, after having pertussis, I now gag and sometimes vomit every time I have a coughing spell from a mild cold, or from inhaling dust, etc. I am curious about symptoms which have persisted for three years, such as bronchial spasms, gagging, and what feels like some minor obstruction in my trachea or epiglottis.

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