LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - Alberta Health Services says there's been 34 confirmed cases of whooping cough so far this year in the southern part of the province and more may be unreported.

Local medical officer of Health, Dr. Vivien Suttorp, says the disease is cyclical, with outbreaks occurring every three to five years.

She says it's affecting people of all ages.

Suttorp says young children would likely have the worst symptoms and adults more of just a nagging cough that could last several weeks.

The last whooping cough outbreak in the south zone — which is the area south of Calgary and includes Lethbridge and Medicine Hat — was in 2012 and before that in 2009.

Alberta Health Services says whooping cough is extremely contagious and the best way to protect yourself and your family is to get immunized.

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  • Productive Chest Cough

    Coughing up phlegm may not be pleasant, but it gets rid of irritants in your lungs. In this case, it’s best to stay away from cough suppressing medicine and let the coughs clean out your system. Listen to <a href="http://www.webmd.com/children/pertussis-whooping-cough-10/coughing-sounds" target="_blank">what it sounds like here</a>.

  • Non-Productive Or Dry Cough

    Dry coughs are more common near the end of a cold when the body stops producing phlegm. Listen to <a href="http://www.webmd.com/children/pertussis-whooping-cough-10/coughing-sounds" target="_blank">what it sounds like here</a>.

  • Barking Cough

    This cough is loud, dry and painful. It can be a sign of a respiratory disease or viral infection. Sometimes swelling during a common cold can cause these coughs, especially at night. Listen to <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbn1Zw5CTbA" target="_blank">what it sounds like here</a>.

  • Whooping Cough

    These uncontrollable fits of coughs are usually contagious. The coughs can be so bad that they lead to vomiting. Whooping cough typically lasts longer than other coughs. Listen to <a href="http://www.webmd.com/children/pertussis-whooping-cough-10/coughing-sounds" target="_blank">what it sounds like here</a>.

  • Psychogenic Cough

    This cough is more common in children than in adults and is known as a ‘habit cough’, meaning coughing after a cold or flu is over out of habit.

  • Reflex Cough

    These coughs aren’t due to illness but irritants in the air such as dust.

  • NEXT: How to tell if you have the flu - or worse

  • Temperature

    Feeling feverish or having a fever of 100°F or higher can be an indicator for the flu or H1N1 virus, though not everyone with the flu will get a fever. Fevers are unlikely with a common cold.

  • Body Aches

    Feeling achy all over or getting a headache is another symptom of the flu or H1N1, and not generally associated with getting a cold. This tends to show as more general aches, as opposed to those confined to one area.

  • Nausea, Vomiting Or Diarrhea

    Nausea is the most symptom of the flu, and less likely to occur with a cold. However, if you're vomiting continuously, this can indicate a more severe strain of the flu, and you should seek medical help.

  • Sore Throat

    A sore throat is usually the first indicator of the beginning of illness, whether it's a cold, the flu or worse.

  • Cough

    Coughing occurs when one has a cold or the flu, though if it worsens, that can indicate a more severe strain, like H1N1.

  • Fatigue

    An intense feeling of exhaustion, like not being able to get out of bed, is a sign that you have the flu or H1N1. This does not usually occur with a cold.

  • Chills

    Chills can occur as a result of many kinds of bacterial and viral illnesses, including colds, the flu and H1N1.

  • Runny Nose

    Though a runny nose is most closely associated with a cold, it can also be part of having the flu or H1N1. Be sure to have plenty of tissues on hand to keep germs from spreading.

  • Dizziness

    Dizziness is not a normal symptom for a cold or flu, and should be treated with seriousness.

  • Dehydration

    Dehydration is a serious risk when you're ill, either because you feel too sick to drink or eat, or you've been vomiting and/or having diarrhea. Being dehydrated can indicate H1N1, and you should seek medical attention.

  • Pain In Stomach Or Chest

    Feeling pains in your stomach or chest while or immediately after you have the flu can indicate a serious complication, like pneumonia. Seek medical help immediately.

  • Blue, Purple Or Grey Lips

    Discoloured lips can indicate a lung infection, which poses a serious health risk. Be sure to seek medical attention immediately.

  • NEXT: 10 ways to help protect you from the flu

  • Make Yourself A DIY Germ Barrier

    To help keep the germs at bay, use a cotton swab to apply petroleum jelly to the inside of your nostrils. Voila! You've got yourself an enhanced germ barrier. Our <a href="http://www.caring.com/articles/7-ways-to-avoid-getting-sick-when-you-fly" target="_hplink">noses are often soft spots for bacteria and viruses and a small layer of jelly can act as a protective barrier. </a>

  • Sanitize

    Keep an all-natural hand sanitizer that promises to kill 99.9 per cent of germs in your pocket or purse at all times.

  • Protect The Kids

    Kids are primary germ carriers and will inevitably fall ill this season. To prevent yourself from getting sick, make sure your children are also protected either with a flu shot or medication.

  • Get Fresh With Garlic

    Bacteria love warm, humid environments. If what you've got now is a bacterial infection, garlic is a powerful, all-natural antibiotic solution. Of course we're not telling you to eat a raw clove straight — instead try adding garlic to soups, salads or your favourite pasta.

  • Reach For Probiotics

    A happy gut means a healthy immune system. Reach for probiotic supplements or yogurt. Probiotics can <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1281141/Probiotics-good-digestion-But-combat-flu-allergies-bad-breath.html" target="_blank">boost the immune system and increase resistance to the cold and flu by producing antibiotics.</a>

  • Get Some Zzzs

    Lack of sleep is proven to contribute to an unhealthy immune system. To ensure you have a congestion-free sleep, whether you're sick or not, use a nasal strip to help open your airways.

  • Sneeze In The Sleeve

    Much like hand washing, this is one of the simplest ways to help prevent the spread of germs.

  • Shower Your Nose

    Irrigate your nasal cavity with a neti-pot. It will flush out the viruses and bacteria reducing chances of impending infections.

  • Don't Forget The D

    When it comes to the flu, it’s not all about Vitamin C, Vitamin D is just as important. Since we may not get as many hours of sunshine as we do in the summertime, taking vitamin D supplements during the winter can help boost immunity and protect our bodies from catching a cold.

  • Flower Power

    Research suggests the use of a properly formulated Echinacea means fewer colds, reduced duration of cold symptoms, and less reliance on synthetic pain relievers.