Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pertussis and How to "Whoop" the Whooping Cough

First off, I need to state that I am not, by any means, a medical doctor.

Second of all, I need to state that I am not, by any means, over this dreadful cough. This will be the first post on this subject as I will hopefully learn and experience more relief as the days and weeks continue. Yes, you read right- WEEKS (!), as I am currently on week 5, at least.

Third of all, regretfully, I will not be giving you any links because I still feel really cruddy, I'm on my laptop and the articles I read are on my phone. I did write down these facts that lead to my final disclaimer:
  • the incubation period (when you are exposed to it and when you show symptoms) is typically 7-10 days, but could be anywhere from 6-20 days
  • you are contagious for the first 3 weeks, which is usually before you realize that anything is really wrong (it presents as a typcial cold or a simple cough)
  • the cough lasts for months and is called the "100 day cough" because of this

Finally, you need to understand that this post will be full of sarcasm because the more I find out about this disease, the more I realized that so much is known, unknown, diagnosed and undiagnosed.

Alrighty then, without any further ado,

How to "Whoop" the Whooping Cough:
  1. Get a vaccine, or don't; get a booster, or don't. Our family history includes the following: me- no booster, I've had the many pretty severe symptoms for 5 weeks, milder coughing for a week or 2 before that; my husband- no booster, seems to have mild symptoms; 13 year old daughter- booster last year, seems to be fine but has coughed a few times this last week (we're keeping tabs on this!); 7 year old daughter- full series of shots (the last boost in 2008), she's started showing signs this last week and is the only one that has actually "whooped"; and finally, my 2 year old son- 2 shots (the last one was 3 months ago!), he's on about week 4 that we can remember.
  2. Take antibiotics, or don't. It really depends on when you realize you have pertussis (aka: whooping cough). Antibiotics only do any good in the first 2-3 weeks and the point is to stop you from being contagious. From what I have read, it does very little to help with the actual symptoms and doesn't shorten the disease. I took them, possibly during the right time and they didn't help my symptoms AT ALL. I may or may not have spread it to my family since they may or may not have been exposed to other people with pertussis.
  3. Take probiotics, or don't. I don't know about this one because I haven't tried it yet. I have a friend that is on them at the suggestion of her naturopath. I guess you can sprinkle the capsule on food and take it that way. I doubt my son will do that, even more so since she told me her daughter won't. She also mentioned that they make a gummy form, which I will try to find tomorrow. Cod liver oil is also on the naturopath's list of remedies, but again, I know I can't get my son to take this.
  4. Don't get angry, it makes the cough worse. For me this means staying away from everyone and not reading anything, especially nothing medical or political. Seeing as I've been very sick for over a month now, you can judge for yourself how good I am at the "no angry" step. I've been better at keeping my son calm, which does help. If he gets upset and cries or yells, he often goes into a coughing fit. You get it, be happy.
  5. Be cool, but stay warm. This may be specific to our little family of symptoms, but it seems to be common amongst the 3 of us. We want to be warm but we all need fresh or cool air. I am most comfortable under a blanket with socks and the front door open. My son constantly wants to be outside and sleeps better with the window open but under covers. My daughter is in long sleeves, long pants and a light blanket with the ceiling fan on. Why all the details? Because these are atypical actions for all of us and I noticed them AFTER I read somewhere that this was one of the signs/symptoms that one might be suffering from pertussis. I'm not making this stuff up.
  6. Eat chocolate, but not the candy coated kind. Dark chocolate has theobromine in it that helps sooth a cough. I didn't really care about the cough until my son went 3 days without holding anything down. The cough would cause him to gag and upchuck everything he had eaten. Eventually he wasn't even gagging, just throwing it all up as he asked for a bowl. It was quite sad. I haphazardly found the chocolate solution while trying to find a homeopathic remedy for pertussis. Not having any dark chocolate on hand, I gave him some semi-sweet chocolate chips. He hasn't thrown up since. I bought some dark chocolate that he won't eat, so I'll be enjoying the Ghirardelli myself. (no worries there: I eat less of the dark chocolate and I had a $1 off coupon at Walgreens)
  7. Cold drinks may help. There are several stages of the disease, and several symptoms that one may experience. All 3 of us seem to be showing different symptoms (that I know about). One homeopathic site I was on suggested that cold liquids may make one feel better. On top of the chocolate, I started giving my son ice water. Being 2, he can't really tell me his symptoms, but since he had been throwing up even tepid water and juice, I figured ice water wouldn't hurt.
  8. Check into a homeopathic remedy, if you want. My friend sent me a link to anAustralian Homeopathic group. Alright, here's the homepage: http://homeopathyplus.com.au/ You'll have to search for the pertussis stuff yourself. There were at least half a dozen remedies, depending on what stage and what symptoms you had. One seemed to help me, but it either didn't work on my son or made him worse. It's kind of hard to tell since pertussis runs in stages.
  9. Have a pertussis test done, or don't. I don't think it will really matter. It is very rare that this test will come back positive. This is the most frustrating of all things I've come across. I actually read on the CDC website that the clinical test is super sensitive so they don't miss any cases in their studies, but that the public test is super INsensitive so that the public is not alarmed by an outbreak. Wait, aren't you the Center for Disease Control? Yeah, I guess if the public finds out there is a pertussis outbreak you are proving that you aren't controlling anything and that the vaccine doesn't really prevent anything. I guess it does make sense to use a test that won't diagnose anything.
  10. Try a juice fast, or don't. I actually did this before I found out I was exposed to pertussis. I was having such a hard time breathing and I felt like I was choking and gagging on everything. Those particular symptoms did improve because there was simply nothing to gag on. I read how to do a juice fast it in a book at Hi Health which included: 2 days of nothing but (raw) fruits and veggies, 3 days of fresh juice (no tomato or orange), and 2 more days of fruits and veggies. I never would have made it without my husband and quite honestly, after day 1 1/2 I didn't want anymore juice. I think I got 8oz down on day 3, and then lived on lemon water. Possibly the most important thing this did for me was to stay away from dairy, which reduced the amount of mucus to hack up. OK, update: that was super, super important so I'm giving it it's own number.
  11. AVOID DAIRY LIKE THE PLAGUE. I realize you probably feel like you have the plague already if you have pertussis (although those who have had the plague will probably argue), but if you have dairy you will feel worse. 'Nuf said? Words like phlegm, mucus, paroxysm, etc. are just the beginning. Don't go there, no matter how good the food sounds (although no food probably sounds good), and don't let your child with pertussis have it, no matter how hard he screams. (We bagged up the yogurt and hid it, bought soy milk for cereal...)

What will I be doing next? I was sort of bullied into taking my kids to the doctor tomorrow since my son was still throwing up. I considered cancelling, but since my daughter is still possibly within the 3 week contagious window I will keep the appointment and see if we should start her on some antibiotics. If it can possibly reduce her symptoms and stop the spread of this wretched disease, then I'm going to give her some meds. Ugh. My son is past the contagious point so I'm going to try to find the probiotic gummies, and possibly the cod liver oil if I get it for myself. I'll be going with some probiotics for sure and probably getting another homeopathic remedy based on my new symptoms.

Since it was hard to find, yet has some of the best details on pertussis, I broke disclaimer 3:


1 comment:

mamamuniz said...

Oh my goodness, I had no idea you were so sick. I just wonder about the effectiveness of the vaccine, since you have all had it. I wish you well, and thanks for all the information.