Updated 11/24/2012 05:00 AM
Healthy Living: Adult whooping cough
Cases of whooping cough are on the rise nationally. It's more typical in kids, but adults may also be diagnosed. Geoff Redick reports.
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It's not the cough that gives "whooping cough" its name, but the "whooping" breath the sufferer can barely take before another fit of coughing.
"An increasingly common illness, and we're seeing a lot of it in Monroe County and the surrounding counties," said Dr. Michael Pichichero, Rochester General Hospital.
Cases of whooping cough are on the rise nationally. It's more typical in kids, but Dr. Pichichero has treated a number of adults for whooping cough, as well.
"Adults who I've diagnosed here in the practice… They ask me about it, and I listen to their story, and quick as a wink I can figure out that it's probably whooping cough," said Dr. Pichichero.
"When I went into the hospital, it was in the middle of the night. And I was coughing so hard that I…I'd be gasping for air," said Sara Lodini, a patient.
It was last December, and Lodini thought she'd come down with bronchitis.
"My lungs were so inflamed...from coughing so much, that it had kind of triggered an asthma attack," said Lodini.
Because she had waited so long, Sara's case of whooping cough is now taking about four times longer than normal to clear up.
"If you have a cough that lasts, again, I'm not a medical expert, but more than a day or two, and especially if you're starting to feel like you can't breathe well, or your ribs hurt, I would definitely go right in," said Lodini.
If you don't have the cough, still beware: Whooping cough bacteria, called "b. pertussis," are extremely contagious. Take the same precautions you would for the flu. Wash your hands regularly, and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
"The prevention is through vaccination. There are excellent vaccines for adults...called T-DAP, and these vaccines are given to adults routinely now. They're safe, they're effective, and they will prevent you from contracting whooping cough," said Dr. Pichichero.
Contact your personal physician or family pediatrician to learn more.