What is Cough?

Cough or whooping cough or pertussis, as it is called in medical parlance, is a contagious disease. Unlike some other diseases, a new born baby has no immunity to this disease, and can get it any time after birth. It commonly affects infants during the first year of their life, when it is very severe and most of the deaths due to it occur during this period. Many cases occur in children up to 5 years of age. In some cases children up to 12 years may also be affected. The disease may causeĀ  serious trouble in the lungs.

This highly infectious disease is caused by bacteria. It spreads rapidly from one child to another by droplet-infection. This is especially so during the early catarrhal stage, but once the typical spasmodic bout starts, the infectivity becomes negligible. This disease has a prolonged course of 8 to 10 weeks.

The disease has a catarrhal and spasmodic stage. For the first week, the cough is like an ordinary upper respiratory catarrh. At the end of a week, it becomes spasmodic and comes in bouts, initially more often during the night, but later during the day as well. The child goes on coughing. His face becomes red and suffused, the tongue protrudes and the eyes begin to water. At the end of bout, the child takes a deep breath, and there is a prolonged croaking sound which is known as a whoop.

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