Quite an opener, isn’t it?
At first I planned on naming this post “Whoop… there it is”, but thought better of it. This illness can be really scary, and I’m not taking it lightly. But a girl does have to keep her sense of humor, no?
I’ve been reading and researching Whooping Cough for about 14 1/2 years since… you guessed it, my oldest child was born. Of all the childhood illnesses, Whooping Cough/Pertussis scared me the most.
Every time my kids came down with a sickness, I would check their symptoms with the children’s health and first aid books I have on hand. As a result, I knew the symptoms of Whooping Cough well.
So last Saturday, when we were at a party and after running around playing a game, my stepdaughter Zoe began having a coughing fit and turned purple, I looked at my husband and said, “Babe, that sounds like Whooping Cough.”
The very next day, we quarantined her in her room and I started her on the Vitamin C treatment Dr. Suzanne Humphries recommends here. We ordered the powdered sodium ascorbate online because we couldn’t find it anywhere. While we waited for it to ship to us we had her take powdered ascorbic acid we bought at Whole Foods.
After her first large dose, she coughed up a huge wad of mucus. Which is exactly what should happen as the Vitamin C thins the mucus and allows you to cough it up more easily, and is what Dr. Humphries says would happen.
I hoped I was wrong about the diagnosis, but her case was textbook, and I knew the Vitamin C wouldn’t harm her even if it wasn’t Pertussis.
Early Whooping Cough Symptoms
About 2 weeks previous, Zoe had mild cold-like symptoms: a sore throat, malaise, runny nose. This is how Whooping Cough begins: the symptoms are indistinguishable from the common cold. It’s only after a couple of weeks that the cough begins to get worse, after the initial symptoms have abated.
By Tuesday the cough had begun to get worse. We had a couple of rough nights with little sleep as she coughed, turned red and vomited. My husband took her to the hospital Tuesday evening to get her tested for Pertussis, and to rule out other illnesses that could be treated.
It wasn’t easy getting the diagnosis, because when my husband took her to the hospital, the Doctors immediately discredited him, began verbally abusing him because of Zoe’s unvaccinated status, and insisted that “it couldn’t be whooping cough because she hasn’t been coughing long enough”.
They didn’t want to test her, and Zeke had to insist. So their course of action would be for her to continue spreading it to everyone around her until they decided she had been coughing long enough for them to do a simple test covered by our insurance?
On Thursday, we got the test results – Zoe has confirmed pertussis.
(And may the attending physician behave differently next time, because I, an “uneducated” mother apparently knew more than she does about diagnosing Whooping Cough. Ahem.)
So far, Caleb (14) has a mild, dry sounding cough and no other symptoms. He had a mild sore throat a couple of weeks ago. Julien (12) and Ilana (10) have no symptoms (yet – they were to come later). Sadie (7) has a mild dry cough, no other symptoms. Ruby (2 1/2) has a “junky” sounding cough, and mild fever that comes and goes. She is playing and eating normally and not acting sick.
And Victoria (7 months) has a mild runny nose. She’s playing, eating and sleeping normally.
I’m fine (I did have a mild sore throat for a few days two weeks ago) and my husband has a mild cough.
Do we all have it? I don’t know. Time will tell. (Update: we did indeed all come down with Whooping Cough. For most of us, it was mild. My husband seemed to suffer the most due to his pre-existing lung issues.)
We are all taking the megadoses of Vitamin C, calibrated by body weight. To make things easier, I add the correct amount of powdered C to a bottle of water, label it with a name, and have the child sip on it all day. For Ruby, I added a bit of honey and called it “lemonade”. She’s drinking it just fine. It’s making the kids go poop more frequently, but other than that there are no ill effects of the Vitamin C.
Since Whooping Cough has been in the news so much lately due to increasing numbers of cases in several states, I’ve been collecting info and links for months. I knew this day might eventually come, and I wanted to be prepared so when it did happen I could begin a plan of action instead of freaking out and panicking.
Here’s what I know about Whooping Cough. I hope this will be helpful to you.
You need to know about this illness no matter if your child is vaccinated or not.
- Whooping Cough has never disappeared in the US. It comes and goes in cycles every 4-5 years. (WhoopingCough.net)
- The vaccine’s effectiveness is debated, but most sources agree it wears off in 2-4 years. Currently, W.C. outbreaks are taking place mostly among the vaccinated. This study, done several years ago, showed that 86% of children who got Pertussis were fully vaccinated.
- Unvaccinated children and immigrants are NOT to blame for the current epidemic. (PBS.org – see point #6) Immigrants are given vaccines upon entering the country or prior to leaving their home country. Of course, illegal immigrants may not be vaccinated. It appears that they are indeed contributing to the spread of measles in the southwestern United States.
- Whooping Cough is wildly underdiagnosed. Quote: “It is my opinion, based on my research, that the actual number of cases that occur is at least 10 times the number reported.” Source: WhoopingCough.net – The diagnosis of Pertussis often depends on the doctor’s opinion about vaccine status. In other words, if you’re vaccinated, s/he assumes it isn’t Pertussis and so doesn’t test. Or if s/he perceives that Pertussis is on the rise due to his patients refusing vaccines, diagnosis rates go up. This is called confirmation bias.
- If you or your child has ever had a cough that lasted for more than 3 weeks, there is a 30% chance that it was Whooping Cough. (Lost this source, will keeping searching for the link.)
- Only about 50% of people actually “whoop” when they have Pertussis. The “whoop” sound is when the person’s lungs become empty after a prolonged coughing fit, and they gasp for air. Older children and adults usually don’t “whoop”. I never heard Zoe whoop. (Source)
- There is no medical treatment (antibiotics, steroids, etc) that has been proven to limit the severity or length of the illness. (Source) Some Doctors may insist that the sick person take antibiotics to help prevent others getting sick, but there is no proof that this works. Antibiotics, according to some experts, will only make things worse because they hamstring the immune system. (Source) (In my opinion, the reason Zoe has this illness in the first place is because, unlike the other children, she has had several unnecessary rounds of antibiotics. She seems constitutionally weaker than the others for this and several other reasons.)Quote: “The consensus is that antibiotics may limit the period of infectivity but do not alter the clinical course and are not indicated in close contacts. Most cases that come to treatment have already been coughing and spreading the disease, and antibiotics are of limited if any use.” – Source
- In a similar vein, cough medications are worthless for Whooping Cough. What you want is not to stop the cough, but to help the cough be more productive (i.e. thin the mucus so it can be expelled). Things that act as an expectorant (Vitamin C, steam, etc) are more helpful.
- The Vitamin C treatment has been studied and shown to be effective in minimizing the length and severity of the cough (the studies were small, but still impressive). (Source) Links: Japanese study Vit C and whooping cough |Pertussis vit C Success Ormerod 1937 |A Preliminary Report on the Use of Cevitamic Acid in the Treatment of Whooping C
- People who are in the whooping cough (symptom) stage of Pertussis (disease) look and act normal inbetween coughing paroxyms. So if you take your child to the Doctor and the Doc doesn’t hear/see the cough, they’re not likely to suspect W.C. It’s a good idea to record the kid coughing (your cell phone likely has an audio note app). Older kids and adults may only cough at night, or after eating. Babies and toddlers cough more, but again – the coughing fits may be spaced out.
Here is a list of blog posts I have collected where Moms share their family’s experience with Whooping Cough:
- Life In A Shoe (Kim C, mom of 11- W.C. made its way through her family years ago)
- SouleMama (her 5 young children all got W.C.)
- The EcoMom – great info on treating Whooping Cough naturally
- LifeNut – another mom of many
- Great article about managing WC in breastfed infants
- MommyEarth -W.C. makes it way through her 6 children
- BirthOlogie -mom of 5 describes her kid’s bout with W.C.
- Rachel of LusaOrganics shares her experience with W.C.
- ModernAlternativeMama – didn’t get officially diagnosed
- Brew Crew’s pertussis adventure – great, heart wrenching post with helpful tips and advice
- 400 Things – her 3 youngest children caught Whooping Cough
Has your family contracted Whooping Cough? Please share your experience and any links below.
All The Pertussis Posts
- We have whooping cough
- Waiting for pertussis test results
- Whooping Cough part 3
- On the Mend
- Post Pertussis