What is it?
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways.
It causes repeated coughing bouts that can last for two to three months or more, and can make babies and young children in particular very ill.
Whooping cough is spread in the droplets of the coughs or sneezes of someone with the infection.
What are the symptoms?
The first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a cold, such as a runny nose, red and watery eyes, a sore throat, and a slightly raised temperature.
Intense coughing bouts start about a week later.
The bouts usually last a few minutes at a time and tend to be more common at night.
Coughing usually brings up thick mucus and may be followed by vomiting.
Between coughs, you or your child may gasp for breath this may cause a “whoop” sound, although not everyone has this.
The strain of coughing can cause the face to become very red, and there may be some slight bleeding under the skin or in the eyes.
Young children can sometimes briefly turn blue (cyanosis) if they have trouble breathing this often looks worse than it is and their breathing should start again quickly.
In very young babies, the cough may not be particularly noticeable, but there may be brief periods where they stop breathing.
The bouts will eventually start to become less severe and less frequent over time, but it may be a few months before they stop completely.
- Aromatherapy and steam inhalation can help in the treatment of a whooping cough considerably. Add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oils to a basin of steaming water for inhalation.
- Humidifiers will also help loosen nasal secretions, particularly if your surroundings are cooled or heated artificially.
- Salt water gargles can help to provide relief from a sore throat if there is any throat irritation and inflammation.
- The consumption of a mixture of ginger juice extract with honey will also help to relieve throat irritation and inflammation.
- The consumption of herbal teas like ginger, chamomile and thyme can also provide considerable relief from the symptoms of whooping cough.
- Chest rubs with essential oils like eucalyptus, rosemary or camphor can also help in the treatment of a whooping cough, but to dilute these oils add a tablespoon of almond or olive oil, before applying it to the chest.
Things to watch out for
GP should be contacted if the cough is lasting for more than three weeks or is getting worse.