Information for Patients
What is whooping cough?
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a respiratory infection that can cause coughing fits. In serious cases, the coughing can become violent and rapid. You may cough so hard that you vomit. The name of the disease comes from the whooping noise you might make when you try to breathe in after coughing.
Whooping cough is very contagious and can affect anyone. But it can be especially serious in babies who did not yet get the vaccine. About half of babies under age one who get whooping cough need care in the hospital.
What causes whooping cough?
Whooping cough is caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. It spreads from person to person. People who have pertussis usually spread it through coughing, sneezing, or breathing very close to someone. It can also sometimes be spread by touching an infected surface and then touching your nose or mouth.
If you get pertussis, you are contagious for about 2 weeks after you start coughing. Antibiotics may shorten the time that you are contagious.
What are the symptoms of whooping cough?
The symptoms of pertussis usually start within 5 to 10 days after you are exposed. But sometimes you may not get symptoms until up to 3 weeks later.
Whooping cough usually starts with cold-like symptoms. They may last for 1 to 2 weeks and can include:
- Runny nose
- Mild fever
- Mild, occasional cough
The early symptoms in babies can be different. They may only cough a little bit, or they may not cough at all. Babies may have apnea, which means that there is a pause in breathing. They may start to turn blue. If this happens, get medical care for your baby right away.
As whopping cough gets worse, the symptoms may include:
- Fits of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched "whoop" sound
- Vomiting during or after coughing fits
- Exhaustion after coughing fits
The coughing fits get worse and start happening more often, especially at night. You may have them for up to 10 weeks or more.
Recovery from this can happen slowly. Your cough gets milder and happens less often. The coughing fits can come back if you have another respiratory infection, even months after you first got whooping cough.
How is whooping cough diagnosed?
Your health care provider may use many tools to diagnose whooping cough:
- A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms
- A physical exam
- A lab test which involves taking a sample of mucus from the back of the throat through the nose. This may be done with a swab or syringe filled with saline. The sample is tested for the bacteria that causes whooping cough.
- Blood test
- Chest x-ray
What are the treatments for whooping cough?
The treatment for whooping cough is usually antibiotics. Early treatment is very important. It may make your infection less serious and can also help prevent spreading the disease to others.
Treatment after you have been sick for 3 weeks or longer may not help. The bacteria are gone from your body by then, even though you usually still have symptoms. This is because the bacteria have already done damage to your body.
Whooping cough can sometimes be very serious and require treatment in the hospital.
Can whooping cough be prevented?
Vaccines are the best way to prevent whooping cough. There are two vaccines in the United States that can help prevent whooping cough: DTaP and Tdap. These vaccines also provide protection against tetanus and diphtheria.
Babies and other people at high risk serious disease should be kept away from people who have whooping cough.
Sometimes health care providers give antibiotics to family members of people who have had whooping cough or people who have been exposed to it. The antibiotics may prevent them from getting the disease.
You may also help prevent the spread of whooping cough (and other respiratory diseases) by:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water. You can use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
- Avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that you frequently touch, including toys
- Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or upper shirt sleeve, not hands
- Staying home when sick
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
General Equivalence Map Definitions
The ICD-9 and ICD-10 GEMs are used to facilitate linking between the diagnosis codes in ICD-9-CM and the new ICD-10-CM code set. The GEMs are the raw material from which providers, health information vendors and payers can derive specific applied mappings to meet their needs.
- Approximate Flag - The approximate flag is on, indicating that the relationship between the code in the source system and the code in the target system is an approximate equivalent.
- No Map Flag - The no map flag indicates that a code in the source system is not linked to any code in the target system.
- Combination Flag - The combination flag indicates that more than one code in the target system is required to satisfy the full equivalent meaning of a code in the source system.
Index of Diseases and Injuries Definitions
- And - The word "and" should be interpreted to mean either "and" or "or" when it appears in a title.
- Code also note - A "code also" note instructs that two codes may be required to fully describe a condition, but this note does not provide sequencing direction.
- Code first - Certain conditions have both an underlying etiology and multiple body system manifestations due to the underlying etiology. For such conditions, the ICD-10-CM has a coding convention that requires the underlying condition be sequenced first followed by the manifestation. Wherever such a combination exists, there is a "use additional code" note at the etiology code, and a "code first" note at the manifestation code. These instructional notes indicate the proper sequencing order of the codes, etiology followed by manifestation.
- Type 1 Excludes Notes - A type 1 Excludes note is a pure excludes note. It means "NOT CODED HERE!" An Excludes1 note indicates that the code excluded should never be used at the same time as the code above the Excludes1 note. An Excludes1 is used when two conditions cannot occur together, such as a congenital form versus an acquired form of the same condition.
- Type 2 Excludes Notes - A type 2 Excludes note represents "Not included here". An excludes2 note indicates that the condition excluded is not part of the condition represented by the code, but a patient may have both conditions at the same time. When an Excludes2 note appears under a code, it is acceptable to use both the code and the excluded code together, when appropriate.
- Includes Notes - This note appears immediately under a three character code title to further define, or give examples of, the content of the category.
- Inclusion terms - List of terms is included under some codes. These terms are the conditions for which that code is to be used. The terms may be synonyms of the code title, or, in the case of "other specified" codes, the terms are a list of the various conditions assigned to that code. The inclusion terms are not necessarily exhaustive. Additional terms found only in the Alphabetic Index may also be assigned to a code.
- NEC "Not elsewhere classifiable" - This abbreviation in the Alphabetic Index represents "other specified". When a specific code is not available for a condition, the Alphabetic Index directs the coder to the "other specified” code in the Tabular List.
- NOS "Not otherwise specified" - This abbreviation is the equivalent of unspecified.
- See - The "see" instruction following a main term in the Alphabetic Index indicates that another term should be referenced. It is necessary to go to the main term referenced with the "see" note to locate the correct code.
- See Also - A "see also" instruction following a main term in the Alphabetic Index instructs that there is another main term that may also be referenced that may provide additional Alphabetic Index entries that may be useful. It is not necessary to follow the "see also" note when the original main term provides the necessary code.
- 7th Characters - Certain ICD-10-CM categories have applicable 7th characters. The applicable 7th character is required for all codes within the category, or as the notes in the Tabular List instruct. The 7th character must always be the 7th character in the data field. If a code that requires a 7th character is not 6 characters, a placeholder X must be used to fill in the empty characters.
- With - The word "with" should be interpreted to mean "associated with" or "due to" when it appears in a code title, the Alphabetic Index, or an instructional note in the Tabular List. The word "with" in the Alphabetic Index is sequenced immediately following the main term, not in alphabetical order.