Whooping Cough

Herbs That Heal

Whooping Cough:


Whooping cough, sometimes referred to as pertussis, is an infection of the lining of the airways. It mainly affects the windpipe (trachea) and the two airways that branch off from it to the lungs (the bronchi).

Whooping cough is highly infectious. The condition is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis, which can be passed from person to person through droplets in the air from coughing and sneezing.

The condition is known as whooping cough because the main symptom is a hacking cough, which is often followed by a sharp intake of breath that sounds like a 'whoop'.


The symptoms of whooping cough usually follow a cycle that lasts for a number of weeks. There are three distinct stages:

First stage (Catarrhal stage): lasting 1-2 weeks:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Slight fever
  • Watery, running nose and eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • Irritating cough (particularly at night)
Symptoms experienced during this stage often resemble those of a common cold or mild bronchitis.

Second stage (Paroxysmal stage): usually lasting 1-6 weeks, but can continue for up to 10 weeks:

  • Severe coughing spasms
  • A high-pitched "whooping" sound when inhaling after a coughing spasm (the "whoop" sound may not occur with young infants)
  • Vomiting or turning blue due to severe coughing or choking on mucous
The coughing spasms characteristic of this stage may be triggered by such things as crying, feeding, overactivity or tobacco smoke. Where possible it is important to avoid exposure to potential triggers in order to reduce the frequency of coughing spasms.

Third stage (Convalescent stage): may last for months:

During this stage symptoms subside, though subsequent respiratory infections, even months after the initial whooping cough infection, can cause a recurrence of the coughing spasms.

How can I know if I have Whooping Cough?

At first, a person with whooping cough will typically have cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose and low-grade fever. About one to two weeks later, infected individuals can experience severe and prolonged coughing, which is so extreme that it can even cause vomiting.

The disease gets its name from the "whoop" sound that a person (typically a child) makes when he or she gasps for air after a coughing fit. However, not everyone with whooping cough will make this sound — teens and adults typically don't.

The coughing fits can last a long time, up to 10 weeks or more.

Ayurvedic Cure

Ayurvedic doctors prescribe slightly different kinds of medicines depending on which type of cough is observed.

  • If the cough is of vataja type, then kanakasava or kantakaryavaleha are prescribed.
  • If the cough is of pittaja type, then sitopaladi choorna is preferred in conjunction with chandansava or vasarishta. Vasavaleha and matulungadi avaleha may also be prescribed.
  • If the cough is of kaphaja type, then trikatu, triphala, guggulu and shilajit are the drugs of choice.

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