Whooping cough or pertussis, is characterized by an uncontrollable hacking cough with a typical 'whoop' sound. It is caused by a specific bacteria named Bordetella pertussis that infects the respiratory tract. Infants and small children are at a higher risk of getting whooping cough and they tend to suffer for a longer period of time. The severity of whooping cough in adults is less severe.
The whooping cough bacteria is highly contagious in nature and spreads from an infected person to others quite easily. The tiny droplets released into the air by an infected person while coughing or sneezing acts as carriers of the germs. When a person inhales those droplets from air, the bacteria reaches the respiratory tract and starts multiplying in number. It produces toxins in large amounts inside the respiratory passage that causes accumulation of thick mucus and inflammation of the breathing tubes of the lungs. Due to the inflammation in the inner lining of the breathing passage, patients find it difficult to breathe and gasp for breath while coughing and thus the 'whoop' is produced.
Whooping cough symptoms show up after 5 - 10 days after the actual infection by the bacteria. Initially, the symptoms are quite similar to that of the common cold. They are: dry persistent cough, nasal congestion, nasal discharge, watery eyes, frequent sneezing and mild fever. Some patients tend to cough more at night which badly disrupts their sleep. As the infection worsens further, it causes severe bouts of hacking cough which is accompanied by thick mucus. The cough can be so severe that it may induce vomiting. The patient feels tired and fatigued all the time and refuses to eat anything because of frequent coughing.
How to Treat Whooping Cough?
Infants and small children suffering from whooping cough need to be hospitalized for proper treatment. These children are often kept in isolated condition in the hospital to prevent any further spread of the infection. The usual cough medicines such as cough suppressants or bronchodilators are not that effective for whooping cough. Here, the infection needs to be controlled properly in order to get relief from the annoying cough. For this reason, antibiotics are prescribed to destroy the infection causing bacteria. When there is severe inflammation inside the air passage, oral corticosteroid is given to bring down the inflammation. Sedatives are also given to those children who find it difficult to fall sleep because of excessive coughing at night so that they can get adequate rest. In those cases where children are unable to eat anything, intravenous fluids are administered.
Home Remedies for Whooping Cough
Adults and older children with mild symptoms of whooping cough can be treated with the help of some home remedies. Here are a few such remedies:
Remedy #1: When you have whooping cough, you must take plenty of rest. This will strengthen the immune system and it can fight off the infection more effectively.
Remedy #2: You should drink plenty of water and other fluids such as fruit juice, soups, etc. It will replenish the fluids lost out through nasal discharge, vomiting, etc. and keep your body hydrated. Moreover, sufficient water intake helps to flush out toxins from the body.
Remedy #3: Turmeric and milk is a great combination for curing whooping cough. Take a small root of dried turmeric root and roast it. Now, grind the roasted turmeric root to obtain a fine powder. Add one teaspoon of this grounded turmeric powder in a glass of milk and have it twice a day.
Remedy #4: Fresh garlic juice has an amazing effect on whooping cough. Crush a few cloves of garlic to extract one teaspoon of garlic juice. Take this juice twice or thrice a day.
Remedy #5: Cut thin slices of ginger root and soak it in a mixture of lime juice and rock salt. Keep this in an airtight container. Whenever you get a bout of whooping cough, put one slice of this ginger in your mouth to stop the bad cough.
Start treatment as early as possible to ensure a faster recovery. If the treatment starts when the symptoms are mild, one can recover from it within 2 - 3 weeks. In case the treatment is delayed, whooping cough is going to bother the patient for as long as 10 weeks or more.