Whitlow

Inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue of the fingers which has spread to the bone of the phalanx. The condition is caused by bacteria (usually in association with an inadequately disinfected cut) which establish themselves in the marrow of the phalanx bones. The symptoms are pain in the affected finger and sometimes slight fever, and a complete cure is usually possible with antibiotics. It is advisable to rest the hand by wearing a sling during treatment. The symptoms disappear within days, but the treatment should be continued at length to avoid recurrence of the inflammation. If treatment is not effective, for example because the bacteria are resistant to the prescribed antibiotic, complications may occur; this is also the case if the condition remains completely untreated. The most important complications are destruction of the affected phalanx or the formation of a fistula. In the latter case pus from the inflamed phalanx can reach the surface of the skin, reducing pressure on the finger; inflammation becomes chronic. If the phalanx is destroyed, the finger usually stiffens, as the other bones grow together. Whooping cough (pertussis) Bacterial infection of the air passages that occurs in childhood. The incubation period lasts for one to two weeks, and the condition is highly contagious, particularly in the early stages. There is no danger of infection after the sixth week, even though the cough may persist. Infection is possible only by direct contact. The symptoms follow three stages: inflammation of the upper air passages (catarrhal stage) in the form of a cold in the nose, sneezing, coughing and a slight fever. The child is listless and irritable. The symptoms worsen after a few days to a week, and the cough takes on the typical whooping cough character (convulsive stage). The coughing comes in fits of short coughs followed by a shrieking inhalation and expectoration of mucus. The tongue protrudes, and the face becomes red or purplish-blue; this is the first real indication of whooping cough. Infants often do not have the shrieking inhalation, but they are very constricted, and the cough is often associated with vomiting. The child does not seem particularly ill between the attacks, although their frequency can be wearing and in very young babies it is the exhaustion caused by the coughing that makes the disease dangerous. The recovery stage begins after four to six weeks, when the attacks diminish in frequency and violence. Diagnosis is usually certain from the characteristic cough; in less obvious cases it can be confirmed by blood tests and saliva cultures.

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