This post focuses on the human side of the human-pet partnership. So far this year, more than 10,000 cases of whooping cough (pertussis) have been confirmed in the US. Whether or not you choose to vaccinate, you may still be confronted with caring for a child or adult with whooping cough. Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for whooping cough in conventional medicine, but have little effect on symptoms. There are numerous holistic approaches to managing cough and whooping cough that can be used alone or in conjunction with traditional therapies.
Whooping cough most commonly affects infants and young children but can affect adults too. Initial symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, and a mild cough. As the disease progresses, the cough becomes more severe and takes on the characteristic ‘whooping’ sound. The most severe cases may require hospitalization for assistance with breathing.
There are numerous holistic treatment options that may be helpful for cough and whooping cough. I’ve summarized a few below. It is always helpful to consult with a practitioner knowledgeable in holistic or integrative medicine before using some of these approaches.
o Avoid mucus-forming foods, such as milk, flour, and eggs. Avoid sugar too.
o Eat light foods such as vegetables, soups with garlic, and herbal teas
o Keep well hydrated
o Keep your living-space well ventilated and free of smoke
o Use a warm air humidifier
o Rest and avoid exertion
o Arrange pillows so the child or adult is more upright while sleeping
o Keep skin hydrated by massaging with coconut oil daily
o Use a foot bath. Boil fresh ginger in water for 20 minutes. Add the water to a foot bath and soak feet for up to 20 minutes. Make sure the water is not too hot before using, particularly in children and the infirm.
- Homeopathic remedies
o For treatment of pertussis use Coccus cacti and the nosode Pertussin
o Consider Drosera for coughing fits followed by gagging, retching, or vomiting. This can also be helpful for cough that is triggered by exertion or if symptoms worsen during the night.
o Consider Cuprum for coughing fits followed by gasping for air, difficulty breathing, or coughing fits that end in exhaustion.
o High dose vitamin C daily for 7 days
o Wild cherry bark lozenges to soothe the throat
- Essential oils
o Use a warm air humidifier with essential oils such as basil, Cyprus, marjoram, thyme, wintergreen, tea tree, camphor, lavender, chamomile, peppermint, or eucalyptus.
o Mix a few drops of essential oil in a carrier such as coconut oil and massage into the chest or back.
o Heat a pan of water to just boiling and add a few drops of oil of thyme. Create a tent with a towel and have the patient breathe in the steam, taking care to avoid burns. (This approach may not be appropriate for very young children.)
- Energy-based therapies
o Acupuncture – The benefits of acupuncture in whooping cough are recognized by the World Health Organization.