A bacterial infection in the body brought about by the microorganism Bordetella pertussis is commonly called "whooping cough". This condition is medically known as pertussis. The transmission of the infective bacteria is through respiratory contacts such as coughing and sneezing and it can be relayed even when talking with an infected person-thus the bacteria spreads by contact from one person to the other. While the longest incubation period for the germ is about twenty one days, the shortest is about five days-normally however, the incubation period is usually only about ten days long, at a stretch. The disease runs its course in about six weeks approximately.
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The typical symptoms of an upper respiratory infection appear in a child as the first stages of a pertussis attack-these symptoms include a cough that is commonly associated with infections of the respiratory system. As the illness proceeds into the second week, this persistent cough can worsen to a great degree. Very sudden episodes of intense coughing with a "whoop" sound begin in the next four to six weeks of infection, the patient has a red or bluish face, and suffers from the production of large amounts of mucus, he or she will also have bouts of vomiting, and is physically exhausted at most times of the day and night, another possibility is anxiety and other nervous disorders. All of these symptoms and the cough eventually go away over two to three weeks, in a gradual manner. However, a residual cough can be experienced by some children for months on end even after the infection has been cured. Cultures taken from the nose and the throat aid in the identification of the infective organism and all the diagnosis is based on symptoms, especially the distinctive cough, which lends its name to the disease.
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While older children are not harmed generally, any incidence of pertussis is a serious complication for infants and babies. Problems such as a dangerous respiratory disorders are much more likely to occur in children under two years of age, these complications can include physical symptoms of oxygen deprivation, the violent nature of the cough can also contribute certain problems on its own, problems which may arise include umbilical hernia, physical convulsions in the body, and hemorrhage or any form of internal bleeding. Very common and general complications of pertussis are the presence of ear infections and pneumonia in patients.
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Up to three or four weeks after the initial beginning of the cough, infected children remain contagious and can easily spread the disease during this time period. To avoid the transmission of the illness to other children in the neighborhood, children at this stage of the disease must be kept separated from others of their age group. Adults get nothing more than a mild cold with a cough even when it is believed or known that they have been infected with the disease from an affected child. They must still be isolated from vulnerable children as even though unaffected by the disease themselves they can easily transmit it to a child.
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The inflamed respiratory tract and the throat can be aided by the soothing action of the marshmallow root taken as a supplementary measure. Children can be given an herbal tea made from the marshmallow root; dosages for a child can be a single dose of the tea, taken thrice a day, for three days of continual treatment. A soothing lozenge or tea can also be made from the bark of the slippery elm as an added supplement. Dosage of this herb for children can be a single dose of the herbal product, given thrice a day, during three to four days of treatment. The respiratory tract inflammations can also be healed using the osha root, which is also a mild cough suppressant and makes an excellent supplementary medication. Children can be given a single dose of the root tea, two or three times every day, till such times that the child recovers from the illness.
Commonly used essential oils for whooping cough:
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