‘Rib-breaking’: Doctors warn about a violent, contagious cough that can be prevented

Simple Health

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The American Lung Association is raising awareness about an extremely contagious virus that targets your lungs and leads to violent, uncontrollable coughing fits. 

While it’s most dangerous for babies, pertussis — better known as whooping cough — can be prevented and can impact millions of adults with asthma.

“The vaccine available is called Tdap — it’s been around since 2005 and it’s incredibly underutilized. About 33% of Americans received it over the last decade,” said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos with ALA.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reports pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, often until the air is gone from the lungs: forcing a loud “whooping” sound to happen. It also reports the infection is generally milder in teens and adults, especially those who have been vaccinated.

“Every person I’ve treated who’s had pertussis will tell you ‘I wish there was a way I’ve never had it.’ That cough that comes along with it is rib-breaking and it can last for some time even after the infection has gone away,” said Dr Galiatsatos.

The ALA recommends asking your doctor about pertussis, especially if you have an underlying lung condition. They’ll let you know if Tdap is right for you.

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