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Homeopathic management of whooping cough

Dr. Varsha V. Sharma

Whooping cough is an acute, highly contagious respiratory infection. The illness goes on for weeks, and most children lose weight, becoming malnourished. Homeopathy has been a first choice in the treatment of whooping cough as there are some quite effective remedies which are discussed in this article.

Whooping cough can lead to a variety of diseases and complications, including death. It can occur in people of all ages, but it is most serious when it strikes children under the age of one. This disease is also known as pertussis.

Whooping cough is an acute, highly contagious respiratory infection. The illness goes on for weeks, and most children lose weight, becoming malnourished.  

Whooping cough is an infection of the upper respiratory system characterized by severe coughing spells that end in a “whooping” sound when the person breathes in. It affects the upper airways, mostly the trachea and the bronchi. Once the bacteria are inside the airways they then multiply and produce toxins that interfere with the respiratory tract’s ability to sweep away germs. Thick mucus develops deep inside the airways, causing uncontrollable coughing. The bacteria also cause inflammation that narrows the bronchi. This narrowing makes one gasp for air with a high-pitched “whoop”, after a fit of coughing


The incubation period is usually 7 to 14 days, but can be as long as 21 days.


The infection easily spreads from person to person through respiratory secretions or mucus, which can be emitted during coughing or sneezing.


The causative organism is Bordetella pertussis, and a similar organism, B. parapertussis, causes a less severe form of the disease called parapertussis. When inhaled, the bacterium attaches itself to cilia in the respiratory (breathing) tract. Bortadella pertussis interferes with the motion of cilia. The bacteria leading to whooping cough causes an increase in mucus production.

Clinical features

Whooping cough has four, somewhat overlapping, stages: incubation, catarrhal stage, paroxysmal stage, and convalescent stage. Usually the condition runs its course over an eight-week period.

The catarrhal stage (lasts for 1-2 weeks) is often mistaken for an exceedingly heavy cold. The patient has teary eyes, sneezing, fatigue, poor appetite, low grade fever and an extremely runny nose (rhinorrhea). This stage lasts about 10 to 14 days.

The paroxysmal stage, lasting two to four weeks, begins with the development of the characteristic whooping cough. Spasms of uncontrollable coughing, the whooping sound of the sharp inspiration of air and vomiting are all hallmarks of this stage. Coughing often ends with a "whoop" noise. The whoop is rare in patients under 6 months of age. The paroxysms (spasms) can be triggered by yawning, stretching, laughing, yelling, by over activity, feeding, crying or even overhearing someone else cough.

The mucus that is produced during the paroxysmal stage is thicker and more difficult to clear than the more watery mucus of the catarrhal stage, and the patient becomes increasingly exhausted attempting to clear the respiratory tract through coughing.

If the patient survives the paroxysmal stage, recovery occurs gradually during the convalescent stage, usually taking about three to four weeks. However, spasms of coughing may continue to occur over a period of months, especially when a patient contracts a cold, or other respiratory infection. Coughing fits gradually diminish.
Adults and adolescents with whooping cough may have milder or atypical symptoms.

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