Soothe my whooping cough!
February 29, 2012 4:02 AM   Subscribe

Tips/tricks to soothe my whooping cough? 24/f, never had it before.

I have no health insurance, so i just have to ride this out. I've already seen that i shouldn't take any cough/cold medicine, i took a bit before i found that out and it did nothing anyway. throat losanges, not so much either. Vicks seemed to help for a bit, but this morning I've got that back of the throat/nose weird dry feeling. The cough, of course, is painful and miserable. Thanks in advance!
posted by assasinatdbeauty to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
I'm not sure a doc could sooth your cough. Mine missed my whooping cough diagnosis after 2 visits.

IANAD, but have you tried a humidifier in your room? An alternative is to put a pot of water on/near the heat run?

In China, they call it the 100 day cough. Good luck!

And stay far away from babies, who are too young to be vaccinated and for whom it can be fatal.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:24 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

With my kid, either sitting in a steamy bathroom or wrapping up in a duvet and sitting on the porch to breathe the night air helps with croupy coughs, so it may help you too?

That said - how did you get it diagnosed? Most have been vaccinated for it, so that's likely why you've never had it before. If you do indeed have it, your doctor needs to be aware so they can track any outbreaks. Is it pertussis or coup?

Insurance or not, it's a bacterial infection, and you may need a prescription, which shortens the duration of both the illness and the contagious period. It's also highly contagious, and can lead to complications like pneumonia. The vomiting can cause other damage.

I don't mean to be scoldy, but as a mom, I wouldn't let my kid (or anyone in my family) go without medical care for this; and part of being a grown-up is taking care of this stuff properly not just for your own sake (poor you - this sucks!) but for the herd immunity.

This is also something that schools take seriously - when I work in the office, the Public Health Nurse is right on top of those who need vaccination updates, as "Experts believe that up to 80% of non-immunized family members will develop whooping cough if they live in the same house as someone who has the infection. For this reason, anyone who comes into close contact with someone who has pertussis should receive antibiotics to prevent spread of the disease." This means if you're in a class or an office, you're affecting others.

This isn't something you can just ride out. You need to take this more seriously, and take care of yourself because the complications can be grave, and you can also make the people you come in contact with very sick, especially any children. You'll also be sick longer, since whooping cough isn't something that goes away in a few days. Is there a walk-in clinic you can go to, or would your doctor take pity and slot you in somehow? Please?
posted by peagood at 5:05 AM on February 29, 2012 [12 favorites]

Please find some way of getting to a clinic or other low-cost alternative to get this properly diagnosed and treated. If it is whooping cough, you are likely extremely contagious, and there are many infants, elderly, and unvaccinated people for whom whooping cough can be extremely dangerous or fatal. Pertussis outbreaks are tracked, and I think something like two cases from a single school in PA gets it labeled an outbreak: serious business. Also, adults can end up with cracked ribs and other complications, so riding it out may seriously endanger your health or make it more expensive to treat in the long run.

OKAY JUST SAW YOU'RE A NEIGHBOR: Hi! I am, for example, one of those unvaccinated adults. I live and work in your community. I have no natural immunity to whooping cough, and while I have been studiously avoiding all small children, it is somewhat terrifying to know that the grocery store is also going to be a place I re-think.

I honestly have no idea what the low-cost clinic situation is like around here, although you could try contacting Bryn Mawr Hospital and Lankenau (assuming you're still in Havertown) to see what your options are. Please be safe. I hope you heal well, and soon.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:15 AM on February 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Seconding that you really need to see a doctor. I notice from your previous posts that you are around small children. Not to be alarmist, but children can die from whooping cough, and it is highly contagious. Have the children already had their DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine?

I'm surprised you got this, what with vaccines and all. Are you sure it's whooping cough?
posted by Houstonian at 5:17 AM on February 29, 2012

*I should clarify, I'm allergic to the vaccine; it's not by choice. I will try to ask around and see if there are any good options in the area for clinics.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:21 AM on February 29, 2012

You could call public health, 215-685-6740.

They don't want you walking around with a serious, contagious disease.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:41 AM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: I am aware of the issue with small children, the toddler I am around 2 days a week has been vaccinated and we're being careful. My issue is also that there is a clinic in Phoenixville, but honestly have no money to afford the could be 10$ and I could afford it. I just need any at home ideas for soothing the cough and irritation.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 6:20 AM on February 29, 2012

Yes, see a doc and be well. Here's some more info for you.
posted by lulu68 at 6:21 AM on February 29, 2012

The googles tell me that there's a free clinic in your area.

They can diagnose you (important if it is indeed whooping cough), might be able to get you free meds to alleviate the symptoms, and can definitely give you techniques to soothe them if you can't, for whatever reason, take the meds. Good luck.
posted by rtha at 6:25 AM on February 29, 2012

You can find info here:

It appears that the coughing starts about 2 weeks after you've been infected. I've read that you are contagious for about the first 3 weeks - which means that just about the time you start to realize that you have whooping cough, you are almost no longer contagious.

From the CDC site for physicians: If treatment for pertussis is started early in the course of illness, during the first 1 to 2 weeks before coughing paroxysms occur, symptoms may be lessened.

And this: If the patient is diagnosed late, antibiotics will not alter the course of the illness and, even without antibiotics, the patient should no longer be spreading pertussis

While it's true that you can be tested for whooping cough, the test may be expensive, and in situations where it wouldn't change the treatment (ie. you are outside the treatment window), physicians may choose not to test.

Testing can become key when there is known pertussis in the area (like a school) and it's important to test and treat vulnerable populations before they show symptoms.

I'm coming down on the side of -- you're probably outside the treatment window. If your condition doesn't worsen, I'd be tempted to hold tight and take a lot of hot steamy showers.
posted by vitabellosi at 6:25 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Whoops, post instead of preview: The last time I had a crappy cough, what helped was hot (mint, in my case) tea with honey and spending as much time in warm, steamy environments as possible.
posted by rtha at 6:27 AM on February 29, 2012

As an adult in good (prior) health, this IS something you can just ride out. Antibiotics would _only_ reduce the amount of time you are contagious and if you are coughing, it is likely you have passed through the contagious period.

I was vaccinated for pertussis as a child. I had pertussis as an adult. Three previously vaccinated adult members of my family ended up with full-blown cases and a fourth had an incredibly mild case.

I can only recommend comfort measures - there have been some great suggestions mentioned above. For me, the biggest issue was remaining hydrated.

Watch for broken ribs from the coughing (you'll know if you have them), drink lots and get as much rest as you can. I was waking up in the middle of the night to cough (though not as horribly) for at least 6 months POST pertussis.

Best of luck. I have never been more sick in my life.
posted by Mysterious Trousers at 6:37 AM on February 29, 2012

I had pertussis several years ago, probably thanks to my childhood vaccination wearing off and the lunatics in my area refusing to vaccinate their own kids.

I'm sorry to report that almost nothing soothed the coughing. Tea and warm showers helped a little, and they're better than nothing. Hope you feel better soon, I know how awful this is.
posted by Coatlicue at 6:40 AM on February 29, 2012

Advice for anyone in their early 20s reading this thread: get re-vaccinated if you can! The DTaP you had as a pre-teen wears off in ten years, so you are vulnerable again by 22 or so. I found this out to my dismay when I was exposed to whooping cough a few years ago; fortunately, I got antibiotics before the cough set in and was fine.
posted by nonasuch at 7:04 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had pertussis a couple years ago, and I had been vaccinated about year prior. (I'm an adult.) My doctor missed it twice, and because it was fairly late in the run of the disease chose not to prescribe me antiobiotics as (I've confirmed with other doctors) it's not really a "better late than never" thing; they won't alter the course at all but they can be helpful in preventing spread. I was no longer contagious, so didn't bother; it wasn't like I was feeling social anyway. (This is just my anecdotal confirmation of some of the facts linked to above.)

Cough medicines/suppressants also didn't help. It was pretty awful. Lots of tea, hot toddies, warm showers, laying around under a humidifier, and feeling sorry for myself. I was sick for almost a month.
posted by sm1tten at 7:59 AM on February 29, 2012

Mucinex! It thins the mucus. Mucinex with dextromethorpan does that and suppresses the cough.

If you have a vaporizer (not a humidifier), sit around it as much as possible. A vaporizer gives off steam, not mist, and thus is even more beneficial to the cough. If you have a humidifier, that's a plus, but of the two the vaporizer is more useful.

When you're having a severe coughing bout, running the shower at full blast at full heat and filling the bathroom with steam can help tremendously.

Drinking hot herbal tea (ideally with honey, lemon, and ginger in it) or hot broth when you start a coughing bout can help a lot.

There is a non-pertussis severe cough that's been going around, at least on the East Coast of the US. My husband and I both had it, were diagnosed with pertussis empirically, and then our bloodwork (from two different doctors/labs) came back negative for pertussis. So the pertussis vaccination status of the child in your charge may not be relevant to whether or not you are at risk of giving them this cough, fyi.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:35 AM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Tea, hot showers, and holding my face over a boiling pot of water it is! Also, I took an antihistamine this morning as suggested and it helped a HUGE amount for a few hours, for anyone who might suffer this in the future!
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 12:13 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Buying iPhone apps in another country?   |   Yo Dawg I Put a Mario Bros Inside Your Super Mario... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.