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What's Going Around - Whooping Cough

October 17, 2011

It's a cough that just won't go away. And if left untreated in children under the age of one it can be fatal.

In this week's What's Going Around, we're checking in with Dr. Charles Cole of Afton Family Medicine. He says pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is circling around the area.

There are three stages of whooping cough. Symptoms initially look like those of a cold, with congestion and a mild cough. After 1-2 weeks, severe coughing fits develop and may have a 'whoop' at the end. During the second to sixth week of pertussis there may be vomiting after coughing spells. Coughing slowly resolves over several more weeks. This illness can last from three weeks to three months.

Children under the age of one are most likely to have complications from whooping cough. They often need to be hospitalized, and the illness can be fatal at this stage.

When it comes to treating whooping cough, antibiotics are given in the first stage. However, antibiotics are less helpful in curing pertussis after the initial stage, but may prevent transmission to others.

Preventing whooping cough can be as easy as getting a shot. A pertussis vaccine is typically part of the usual childhood vaccine series. Dr. Cole also recommends that adults get a one time Tdap vaccine to boost their immunity.

Dr. Cole also has an important reminder for people as the temperatures cool down. He says exercise is important for your health all year long. So, he suggests that folks still go outside and workout despite the chill in the air. Be sure to wear a hat and dress in layers so that you can adjust your clothing as you warm up. Also, be sure to drink plenty of fluids even when it's cold out.

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