Experiences recounted by visitors
If you seek stories from people who have had difficult experiences with whooping cough, you will find them all below.
The messages are in chronological order with the newest first.
Some years ago I helped a man in the USA to get diagnosed after he had spent thousands of dollars on specialists. He was so angered by the frustration of his experience that he created a website just to share his experience. I know thousands of people will identify with his story. It is informative, and reassuring, but frightening too. It is highly educational about whooping cough. I recommend a look by following this link, not just because I emerge smelling of roses, but because it is such a fascinating story with important lessons for doctors.
If there is some specific thing you want to know about you can use the search box below. It will list the pages on this site that match your search term. You then will need to read the page to find what you are looking for..
In mid-January 2020 I started to feel unwell, as though I was developing a cold. Over the next few days I developed bouts of a horrible coughing, which seized my whole body, made my eyes feel as though they were going to pop out, and during which my throat went into a spasm, such that for several seconds at a time, I couldn’t breathe in or out, producing a terrifying feeling that I might die. This was exacerbated by copious amounts of thick, sticky secretions blocking my nose.
I was woken up several times each night, already in the middle of a bout, gasping for breath, and could only get even a limited amount of sleep by sitting almost upright in bed. During one coughing bout I felt a sharp pain in my groin, and was afraid something might have happened where I had a hernia operation years ago. After this, I almost reflexly went down on my knees as soon as a bout started, to minimise pressure in my abdomen, and usually ended up on all fours, as this intuitively felt the best way to cope. Suffice to say, it was messy, so placed newspapers near the bed, to protect the floor. Simply bending my neck to look upwards or downwards and yawning immediately brought on a bout of coughing. In between a felt normal, apart from the fear of expecting the next one. During another bout it seems that I temporarily dislocate my jaw, which was very painful for some hours.
I entirely forgot to mention that my voice — normally a rich bass — was very badly affected, and still partly falsetto and fragile — can’t talk for long without it going.
We live in Massachusetts, USA and after three weeks, including one hospital
trip, four doctors visits, and many, many nights of constantly interrupted
sleep, we finally got a diagnosis of whooping cough for my 12 year old twin
What made this particularly frustrating was the fact that I had brought up
the idea of the disease to the doctors over a week ago, and my kids were not
immunized against it, and the dr’s knew that – but they just didn’t believe
me when I described the severity of the symptoms. The boys were not very
“sick” when we visited the doctors. In the last three weeks the boys were
tested for strep (negative) and diagnosed with allergies (dog and pollen),
sinus infections and “cough” (what the heck does that mean!). They were
given an Albuterol inhaler, a Flovent inhaler, Singulair pills, Robitussin
cough syrup, codeine cough syrup, over-the-counter Sudafed (decongestant),
Rhinocort nasal spray and a pill called Hydrocodone to knock them out at
night to help them sleep. We also tried homeopathic Phosphorus 30C pills.
And we went out and got an air-purifier! I am sure you are not surprised
that nothing worked – not even the Hydrocodone.
Then the school nurse called (for the umpteenth time) and really encouraged
me to look into whooping cough again. I found your site and got the courage
to go back to the dr’s. I told the nurse and dr that we were NOT GOING TO
LEAVE the office until they heard one of my kids have a “whooping session”.
Well, after about 35 minutes one of them launched into a particularly
dramatic spasm with the coughing, whooping, red face, loss of breath, sticky
foamy saliva, vomit and all. They almost couldn’t believe it, because
otherwise, my child just looked and sounded a bit under the weather. I said
“See, I told you! This is what has been keeping us up at night for weeks!
This is why I have been afraid to leave their side because I thought he
would choke and die!”
PLEASE MAKE SURE PEOPLE KNOW THAT THE KIDS CAN SEEM “WELL” IN-BETWEEN BOUTS!
I know you cover this on the site, but it cannot be reiterated too strongly.
This has been a truly amazing experience…with the irony that it took a
school nurse and a Mom to get the doctors to listen.
Dear Dr Jenkinson,
Thank you for your website which offers a helping hand to all of us who are sent home by our stressed-out GPs without diagnosis.
I want to add to my fellow sufferers’ experiences in case it helps anyone. I fractured 7 ribs during my whooping cough. Three on one side, four on the other. It took a long time to get this diagnosed. Didn’t really show up on Xray, had to be a CT scan.
I am a healthy woman in my fifties with good bone density. So I was just ‘unlucky’ according to the lung specialist I eventually paid to see. Not to scare everyone, my case is unusual. But be aware that it is possible to break one or two ribs and it’s worth knowing that you have, even though there is no treatment you do need to be careful about lifting etc.
I still feel fragile in the ribs and chest, 17 months later, and struggle with a tight chest and short breath especially in cold weather.
By the way I recommend using a humidifier by the bed at night during the paroxysm stage. It does relieve things a little.
Keep up the good work.
My 13 month old started what looked like a normal little cold but after about a week, her cough got worse to the point where she would stop breathing for a few seconds and have a hard time catching her breath. After a few days of doing research online and her cough not getting better, i consulted my doctor’s practitioner nurse who told me is was most likely a viral infection and that their was nothing to be done. I wasn’t happy with this answer but figured we’d wait and see. I tried recording her “fits” although i was running to try to help her everytime and only managed to record the last 20 seconds or so.. still you could tell that it wasnt a normal cough and after having 3 kids i had heard many types of cough. Never like this. Especially without any other signs of illness.. no fever no runny nose.. Coughing fits lasting about 1 min almost every hour. Loud noise when breathing in between coughs. Gasping for air…
Next day my doctor had seen the notes from the practitioner nurse and my doubts about pertussis so she called me back and sent me to another pediatrician to test her for this disease. This new doctor almost laughed at me even after hearing my recording and after i put my foot down, he finally agreed to test her although he also assured me it was viral . Later that day i called my doctor and told her about my doubts again and about how if i waited 1 week for the results it would be to late to treat her and told her about this website and how i was almost certain this is what this was.
Fast foward many phone calls later and she finally agreed to prescribe some antibiotics (azithromycin) in prevention.
2 days into the meds the cough got quite noticeably better and after the 5 days course the cough is now very occasional. Although i have heard that meds would probably not help very much, in our case it did.
I finally got the results from her nasopharyngeal swab today and it has come back positive for pertussis.
This website was very helpful in self diagnosing pertussis and dr Jenkinson has been very open minded, helpful and kind also.
Thank you so much.
I recently contracted whooping cough which I self diagnosed from this website. It was a textbook case that started with a mild cough but no other symptoms. I tend to have problems with post nasal drip so thought it was that though my usual nasal cleansing and steroidal nose spray didn’t help which made me suspicious. I then noticed about two weeks in that I suddenly felt terrible. I still didn’t bother going to the GP because the last time I had post nasal drip and I went to the GP to request a prescription nose spray, I was sent to the A&E and spent 9 hours there only to be told to get some nose spray!
Later that night, the paroxysmal coughing began. I started vomiting after coughing then found I couldn’t breathe. My initial google searches lead me to laryngospasm which is what was happening when mucus was covering my vocal cords. I found some useful advice on how to reopen the airways which anyone here might try. I suggest googling it for some advice.
I went to the GP and was prescribed amoxicillin and diagnosed with bronchitis. My lungs were clear. My cough continued to get worse so I continued my google searching until I found your site and realised I had whooping cough. I returned to the GP and told her what I thought I had. I am not sure she believed me but she gave me clarithromycin, ordered a blood tests and chest X-ray. The blood test was inconclusive and the chest X-ray showed a resolving infection. I never got a definitive diagnosis but was sure that is what I have. I am 7 weeks in now and it seems to be resolving with much less coughing but muscular chest pain is limiting my movement and I am still weak and tired. At least I am no longer terrified of sleeping but I still have to sleep upright, which I have been doing for at least 4 weeks now.
My daughter, who is in a boarding school, started exhibiting similar symptoms about 3 or 4 weeks after my symptoms first appeared. Given what I learned on this site, I explained to her school that I thought she might also have whooping cough and that it was imperative that she get prophylactic antibiotics asap to avoid her developing full blown Pertussis. I was chastised and told she was immune since she was vaccinated 9 years ago. Of course she continued to get worse and they continued to ignore my pleas so I picked her up from school and had her tested for Pertussis at a private GP. That guy also thought I was crazy but since I was paying, he tested her.
Needless to say, she came back positive and will now receive antibiotics though it is too late for it to prevent the worst of the disease. Given she is in boarding school, they may end up with an outbreak, though I doubt they will diagnose it. I expect her to have difficulty with her vocational training this term which we could have avoided if they would have listened to me. At least I can now say for sure that I had whooping cough since her test was positive. I had to rely on my history alone.
I found the whole episode frustrating. I understand that what’s rare is rare and that parents are sometimes overzealous but my history was textbook and given the circumstances and government guidelines, my daughter should have been treated prophylactically.
5 Sept 2019
Hi! I am 29 yrs old with an almost 4 year old son. He had a cough that started on August 6th that progressively got worse. After 10 days I brought him to the dr. I don’t normally bring my child to the dr for a cough, as I am a nurse, and know that most coughs are viral. We live in the southern United States.
After going to the Dr, she gave an Rx for azithromycin and let me know that would cover pneumonia as it had been going around. 5 days later the cough was worse with even more frequent vomiting.. the school was calling, etc. The cough wasn’t constant of course, but when he did cough, it was so hard that it took his breath and lead him to vomiting every time.
We tried a humidifier and mucinex. That did not help.
I took him back to the Dr after day 17, and a chest X-ray was ordered, which of course was normal. The doctors still had not heard him cough. He did a small cough, not a full on fit, and the dr said, “well let’s give him some albuterol”. We tried that, and it did not help. On day 24 I was doing my own research on UpToDate, and found YOUR video on there, which led me to your website! Your website is so helpful and spot on! When I heard the video of pertussis WITHOUT the whoop, it sounded JUST like my son’s cough.
I brought him to the doctor the next day with your print out for doctors. I explained to her that I am in the medical field and feel like this is pertussis. She responded with that she thought it was more related to asthma. I told her no one in my family has asthma or a history of allergies, nor does he, and that he does not wheeze.I then told her I had a video I’d like to play for her of the whooping cough without the whoop, and she got offended! She told me, “I know what whooping cough sounds like. You dont have to play that. If I want to listen to it I can go on UpToDate myself.” At that point, I didn’t dare hand her your print out…
However, she did test him for pertussis with PCR, but told me “I really just think this is asthmatic cough, let’s continue the albuterol and add some inhaled steroids.”. I on the other hand, was sure that he had pertussis.
Today I got the call that his results are positive. Thank you for your website and the video I found of the “less classic” or should I say “more classic” now, whooping cough without the whoop!
My son is up to date on all of his vaccinations including Tdap. However, him being almost 4 and due for the next dose next month, I guess his immunity waned off!
Thank you again.
Thank you for the information on your site. It’s good to know I’m not the only one experiencing these terrible symptoms.
I have had a cough for about three weeks and it is getting worse rather than better. About a week in, I first experienced a strong coughing attack which left me unable to breathe for an alarmingly long time afterwards. It felt like I had no lungs – there was nowhere for the air to go. I suspected a collapsed lung. I have had such attacks frequently since, terrifying my wife, daughter and myself.
I have been to two GP’s and they have both given me different anti-biotics cough suppressants, and allergy medicine but nothing has been effective. I told the doctor about my fear that it was whooping cough, but he made no effort to get it tested. .
By the way, I did find something that might be useful. The natural instinct when gasping for breath is to gulp in air through the mouth. This is impossible after a coughing fit – the lungs seem to be closed. However, if I breathe through my nose, the air seems to get in, and I can restore my breathing much quicker. I can’t promise it will work for everyone or all the time, but it’s worth a try if you find yourself unable to breathe.
Thank you for your website. It has been invaluable and kept me sane.
I am still suffering from the effects of suspected Whooping cough – five or six weeks in now. I struggled to remain at work having had little sleep due to the early hours coughing, retching, then constant vomiting. At this stage I had visited the GP twice; one Dr stated I had a common cold/upper respiratory virus, the other concurred but thought the symptoms matched Whooping cough – if I was 10 months old, not 47 years! The scariest thing was after coughing and vomiting I could not draw breath – not just for a couple of seconds, much longer – it was like someone had placed clingfilm over my face. My wife is a nurse and she was very concerned. After a third consecutive night of this level of suffocation, my wife insisted on driving me to the ED of my local hospital at 05:00 in the morning. Chest X-Rays were clear, blood oxygen normal. The ED Dr was very sympathetic and knew I was ‘not right’ but could only say the same as the GP – upper respiratory virus. He did refer me to the ENT registrar, who examined me with a nasendoscope and found some adenoid inflammation. He prescribed an antacid to prevent reflux burning my airway. I was forced to take a week and a half off work and visited the GP twice more; firstly to be prescribed Amoxycillin – then the final time after I returned to work (not that I was feeling much better, but sick leave is something I have rarely used) my GP decide to do blood tests and send them to London for Whooping cough analysis. Ironically she told me I may have been past the stage where it could be identified anyway! Enduring an awful time back at work and probably should have taken more time off. I have never experienced anything like this before and can sympathise with other comments regarding the viscus nature of the mucus and the alarming nature of the breathlessness following severe coughing bouts.
I had whooping cough in the summer and fall (Omaha, NE). This site was very helpful. It made me feel like I wasn’t going crazy. I’m still met with people that don’t believe me when I talk about it. I had a coughing/gasping attack at the Dr’s office with the Dr. standing right there. He still didn’t believe me. Or maybe he just didn’t care.
That was the worst part of the disease; everyone thought I was making it up (except my girlfriend that had to endure me waking up in the middle of the night unable to breath).
To anyone that reads this and is certain that they have pertussis, demand that they do a PCR or something to prove that you’re not full of crap. It will be worth whatever you have to pay for it just to put people in their place. That’s the only regret I had.
The biggest help was a little see-through prescription cough drop (I don’t remember the name) that prevented the cough and therefore the gasping attacks. Well, it didn’t prevent them all but helped. I had to take it every 4 hours so I had to schedule sleep around it. Apparently it’s a dangerous medicine so that added to my anxiety. I had to stop drinking soda and lost a ton of weight because eating would set off my gasping. The whole ordeal lasted around 3 months and slowly subsided. What a nightmare… My girlfriend still has flashbacks whenever I choke on something.
Hi Dr. Jenkinson,
Thank you very much for your website and your life’s work to informing the world about whooping cough.
I was misdiagnosed by 4 doctors, who made me feel I was exaggerating the symptoms. After suffering terribly for 2 weeks and having reached the end of my tether, I found one doctor who just actually “listened” and diagnosed it straight away. The recovery is underway and improving daily. Doctor Jenkinson’s site is a Godsend.
ADVICE FOR SUFFERERS: Morning coughs are the absolute worst and truly debilitating. My advice is to suppress the cough when you awaken but rather IMMEDIATELY take a hot steam shower, the steamiest you can bear. Whilst steaming away, breathe in deeply through the mouth. Resist the temptation to cough too early until you feel the nasty mucus mist-like particles (the real cause of the cough) condense and loosen up. This may take up to 2 or 3 minutes but believe me, the advantages are worth it. You’ll be able to cough up the mucus in fewer attempts and with far less strain.. Speedy recovery to all..
I had pertussis last February, and like many people who’ve contracted it, I didn’t know what it was. Despite having consulted five doctors (two GPs, two ER physicians, and one lung specialist), I was left in the dark. Even lab results came back negative for anything other than the common cough. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon your website when I realized what I was dealing with. The symptoms and audio files found on your website matched my condition to a tee!
Like you’ve advised, I printed the information and gave it to my physicians. Two of them were open to what you had to say, but one felt insulted and put his ego first before my wellbeing. Luckily, I was already on azithromycin at this point which helped control the bacteria, but found that the corticosteroid inhalers only aggravated my condition. I was hopeful that the whooping cough would go away after three months. But alas, it would take five long months before I was rid of any traces of it. I had to turn down long-term job opportunities during this time because I simply couldn’t work. Life was no picnic.
I would like to share something that I’ve learned during this ordeal. It might help someone who’s undergoing this terrible disease.
In order to avoid getting the “whoop” in the midst of a paroxysm, I would first empty out any remaining air in my lungs (or diaphragm) before breathing in. I understand that a person’s tendency is to breathe right away since he or she has already been without air from all the coughing. But I discovered that blowing all the air out first significantly relaxed my throat and lungs. Only then was I able to breathe better without creating that whooping sound in the process. Ironically, this method allowed for more air to fill up my lungs much more quickly than by simply breathing in right away. This little trick helped me tremendously!
I should also say that the term “whooping cough” is a grave misnomer. This disease should really be called “gasping cough” since that’s what really happens. You’re literally gasping for air because it feels like there’s suddenly not enough of it around you. You’re drowning and you’re not even in water! Because if you think about it, what is a “whoop”??? No one knows what that means. And more importantly, no one knows what that sounds like. But with “gasping,” everyone knows how that feels.
Having survived this ordeal, I’ve noticed that my lungs have not been quite the same like they used to be. I’m now sensitive to sudden changes in temperature (ex. leaving an air-conditioned room) and sometimes, even to ice water. I would suddenly burst into a coughing fit and expel clear or light grey phlegm thereafter. My physiotherapist (who’s been more helpful than any of my health care providers) tells me that this is now my “new normal.” If you have any advice or suggestion on how I can restore my lungs, I would greatly appreciate it.
I’ve been encouraging everyone to talk to their health practitioner about getting booster shots since vaccines have an expiry date — no matter what their politics around vaccination may be. Forewarned is forearmed. My doctor has not even once mentioned DPT and I’ve been his client for over 25 years.
Again, thank you for your work and your website! It has been most helpful.
After four doctors, one chest X-ray, three lots of antibiotics, steroids (for a supposed allergic reaction to my first antibiotics and antacids to counteract the massive doses of steroids), my blood test finally came back this week confirming that I have (had) whooping cough. I found your website immensely useful and despite having classic symptoms (although I did not have a sore throat at the outset) and actually thinking I was going to die in the middle at the onset of the ‘whoop’ I am still ‘suffering’ some 7 weeks after coughing. All of this despite the fact that the first doctor I saw was pretty much ready to send me home with a ‘what are you wasting my time for’ until he realised I had had pneumonia five times!!! However, he still made it clear that he felt that I was exaggerating my symptoms.
Thank you Doctor Jenkinson for shedding light on this wretched illness & describing it’s evasive symptoms. I do hope other members of your profession take heed.
I am an elderly male, 71 yrs old, living alone here up on the moors in Southern Scotland, & was so distressed by the whooping & choking at night after the first week of the illness, that on a Sunday morning went to my local casualty in Ayr, 30 miles away! After an extensive examination I was told by a doctor there that it was only a mild throat infection & dismissed. This cough is camera shy. Thankfully the elderly charge nurse there advised me to see my family GP.
However it took two more persistent visits to my GP’s before it was duly diagnosed as W.C. …much too late for antibiotics (they said). If only Ayr Casualty had been more vigilant.
It is now in its 87th day with no silver lining in sight! What no one really appreciates is the long tedious nights, anxiously coughing, on & on, until the dawn! Cough medicines are totally useless.
After another secondary cold, my night coughing is now becoming chronic. Sleep is totally out, leaving one feeling totally abandoned by a seemingly uncaring medical profession.
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, Dr. Jenkinson. Your recommendations marched with my conclusions and have reassured me that I was making the right decisions. Fortunately there aren’t any young children in the family. I’m keeping her home from school a couple more days; hopefully between that and being careful to cough in a handkerchief, away from people, she won’t be infectious.
Unfortunately the CDC has no real authority over state/local health decisions. The US is rather full of foolish people who are afraid of a strong federal govt and fight like cornered badgers at any expansion of federal authority. Shortsighted and stupid in the modern world, but…. All I can say is the British are exceedingly lucky to have the NHS.
Thank you for your site giving me the confidence to be assertive with my GP who categorically stated that I didn’t have whooping cough!
I initially presented in the phase prior to the paroxysmal phase, as the cough had been so severe that I was pulling muscles in my abdomen and ribs and I had never experienced anything like it. I went back to see another doctor when the paroxysmal phase started and I was struggling to breathe and vomiting clear fluid at times- he was not very helpful.
I then did some of my own research and came across your site after googling my symptoms and coming up with possible whooping cough- I took your advice and got my husband to video an episode, lasting ten minutes- a second GP watched 8 seconds of it and agreed that it looked like whooping cough. Have just had confirmation of whooping cough from Public Health England who were notified by the lab- the GP had not notified them. Thanks to your site, I had been able to get a young GP to prescribe the correct antibiotic during the infectious stage and after a dreadful night persuaded a third doctor to check for current infection as well as antibodies- they had wanted only to prove to me that I had been immunised and to demonstrate that I had antibodies! The senior partner (2nd doctor who had seen me) had also over ruled the young doctor from contacting PHE as he was convinced he was the one who was right.
My background. 62 year old Male Londoner, semi-retired, overweight but not obese, normally a reasonably fit gym user, walker & occasional golfer. Only regular medication I take is Allopurinol for gout.
From an unknown contagion, I started coughing the ‘cough like no other’ 3 weeks ago, nothing serious at the time, but what was unusual was that no phlegm rose to my nose which has remained unblocked throughout. This was the first year I have had a flu jab, thus I very mistakenly decided, lucky me, the flu jab had changed the nature of what would otherwise have been the usual cough / cold / flu splutter.
Some days on, progressively things went from bad to very much worse. During coughing I was now suffering intense pain in what I was subsequently told were my sinuses. 11 days ago after passing out in the early hours I went to see my, thankfully infrequently visited, GP of many decades. In great detail I described the nature of the ‘cough like no other’. Every time I have seen a doctor, I have described it so at length (reinforced by my wife) that within a few seconds of being OK(ish) about 12 times a day, I would succumb to the violent coughing like no other & often the TOTAL blockage of my airways, unable to force air in or out of my lungs, the very strange noises & light headedness that accomplished each attack. Another major feature is that during the coughing I ingest huge amounts of air into my stomach (and beyond…); this leaves insufficient room for my lungs to inflate. The GP’s stethoscope showed my chest to be clear, pulse, BP & blood oxygen levels good. Sinusitis was diagnosed & the concept of Asthma was dismissed. 250mg Clarithramycin along with inhaling Olbas Oil in hot water and/or steam plus warm drinks were prescribed. Since this began I have not managed to sleep more than 2 hours any night; often less. (I am now quite raggedly & I suppose what I am writing probably lacks eloquence or flow). Religiously I followed the GPs instructions. The 250mg Clarithramycin seemed to improve things for the first few hours after each twice daily tablet, but then waned. By now things were so bad, I was even conceiving I might die during one of the attacks. I am certainly not a wimp, but I WAS REALLY FRIGHTENED.
5 days ago (Sunday) unbelievably I was getting worse; I went to my local Hospital minor treatment clinic (or whatever it is my General Hospital has now been downgraded to). I coughed continuously (the cold air whist getting there?) for an hour in the waiting room potentially infecting a 100 or so other ill people. (This was the day after my Grandson’s 3rd birthday party at the local sports / swimming pool / soft play complex; another potential few hundred infections). Again chest was clear. I was given Salamol Reliever inhalant (useless) & refused a stronger 500mg dose of Clarithramycin. Despite repeatedly protesting that I and my wife were being ignored as to the seriousness of my condition, I was being sent on my way without having had sufficient diagnosis or treatment, I left. A day or 2 later the phlegm had gone from heavy yellow to near clear, but, as it still is today, with the properties of industrial adhesive. It looks like raw egg white with a little air whipped into it. (nothing close to looking like uncooked meringue). 3 days ago at 1 AM I woke having another coughing attack. This time productive. I headed to the toilet to spit it out. My next recollection was ‘why am I head first face down in the bath with my legs pointing skywards?’ (not a pretty sight…) In the process I have twisted my neck & 3 days on it still hurts. I had passed out without any prior sensation that I was going to. My belief is this instant faint is not from the throat blockage as the faintness also happens during attacks without throat blockage. However separately I also feel lightheaded after what I guess is 30 seconds after my throat blocking. My guess is the instant faint is brought on by the actual violence of the coughing disrupting the blood flow to the brain. But at least someone up there must be looking after me. If the bath taps were at the other end of the bath, you would not be reading this now or possibly ever…
Despite much retching I have not been sick once.
I spent the rest of the night self diagnosing on the internet. When I played the Male with whooping cough making loud whooping sound track my wife rushed in convinced I was having another attack. As ill as I was we were both relieved to KNOW what I was suffering from.
Next morning I was again back at the GP. I managed to get the words out ‘I have Whooping Cough’. He remained sceptical for 5 seconds until another fully blocked attack happened to start. One frightened looking GP leapt out his chair. He needed no other evidence to confirm my diagnosis. The 10 minute slot became 2 hours (remember this next time your kept waiting). My wife & I were both prescribed 500mg of Clarithramycin. After the attack my BP, pulse & oxygen levels were checked (good) & lung capacity was first checked at 3.5 litres but then a healthy 6 litres after some serious burping & hence deflating of my stomach, thus confirming it wasn’t Asthma. Blood & urine samples have been sent away for analysis. (Legionnaires was considered as a very remote possibility).
Today I am feeling a little better, but far from well. My voice has become deeper & quite gravelly. (My singing is awful, but it always was). I have experimented with numerous remedies to treat my untreatable condition. Obviously for each sufferer different things may work, but I am listing what, by experiment, works for me & may for others too.
Get it diagnosed. The consequent lessening of the stress brought on by the unknown illness works wonders. Do not allow yourself to be fobbed off by Doctors who’s only thought is > NEXT.
Don’t get excited or flustered, talk at an even tone. Keep your mouth shut as much as possible. Stay indoors in an even temperature. Leave the heating on overnight.
Sleep and sit at 45 degrees. Do not slouch / bend the torso which would restrict the ability to breathe deeply & naturally.
Focus on something else. I have coughed a lot less whilst writing this.
Immediate partial relief at the start of an attack. With the mouth closed, MAXIMUM fast inhalation through the nose. This seems to dislodge the irritant phlegm and lessen or forestall an attack.
Inhaling steam with a few drops of Olbas oil in it.
A nasal inhaler that I have dripped a few drops of Olbas Oil into.
Vick on the chest
¼ teaspoon Pholcodine when my throat starts to burble. (Observing maximum daily dosage)
Warm water with a little honey in it. I use Manuka honey a natural antibiotic which seems to ease the local irritation & rawness at the back of my throat.)
Infra-Red deep heat lamp on the chest.
The best bit, only many hours after taking the antibiotic. Purely for medicinal purposes, a teaspoon of neat whiskey, again to dissipate /dislodge the phlegm (and kill germs in the throat?).
Probably not of any relevance here, but I use a sonic tooth brush, a WaterPik with a little dilute mouthwash in the water to keep my mouth & teeth as clean & germ free as possible.
The purpose of my above regime is to stop small amounts of un-expellable phlegm promoting fruitless coughing but to allow the WEAKENED phlegm to gently build up until it is of sufficient volume that is more easily, rapidly & less violently expelled. By not coughing as much or so deeply, my throat is beginning to feel less raw.
Rest, rest & more rest. Don’t pass up any opportunity to sleep, especially soon after expelling phlegm when the throat is clearest.
Help others – Give your GP the Whooping Cough printout for Doctors.
DON’T be a martyr & soldier on.
DO NOT DRIVE if you experience any light-headedness or faintness. (or drink too much whisky)
THANK YOU Dr Jenkinson.
PS the recording of the little girl with the whooping sounded just like my 6 year old, and it really helped me to hear it . Thank you for adding it to your website
I live in England. I’ve just turned 50 at end May and my husband is 55. I’m a big health nut/gym bunny and – having had a harelip/cleft and 20 solid years of seeing you wonderful guys, I now try to enjoy my ‘freedom’ and not visit my GP. I’d not had antibiotics for over ten years, and even getting me to go for serious things like smear tests was like trapping rabbits for my Practice! But I’m now becoming desperate. I started with what I think is whooping cough in December 2011; throughout Dec/Jan I was in A&E 3 times (Christmas Day will always be remembered as A&E day). My husband comes from a family of asthmatics and said what I have is not asthma. He also said it was a noise I make when I breathe in that would be the point at which he would calmly say “we’re going to the hospital now”.
I’ve had formal asthma tests also confirming its not asthma. Up to now oxygen/nebuliser and asthma sprays stabilise things, until today. Nothing had any effect today – it even took the hospital oxygen/nebuliser a long time to kick in; although I’m a gym-bunny (thank god) my pulse rate (not BP) was frequently at 220 and they were constantly asking if I had pain in my chest which I didn’t (they said it was just my heart trying to get oxygen into my system). The coughing was always at night until this last week and I’d wake immediately coughing violently (there’s no gradual build up, you’re just immediately into a violent episode).
I’ve had X-rays (nothing), several Drs examine my chest (nothing) yet I constantly cough up what I can only describe as yellow rubber-spiderwebs. Its like nothing Ive seen before in my life – my lungs flood with clear fluid but I can now only describe the effect as like a washing machine: the clear fluid is trying to wash out the fine yellow spiderweb strands. They are like Copydex, but separate like a mesh of silk threads – I think this is why nothing shows on xray. The coughing seems to come when my lungs want to dislodge these – the nebuliser/asthma spray seems to open my airways so I can do this. And you don’t just gently cough this stuff up it is violently ejected – you could kill someone if you didn’t cover your mouth! And your body wants it gone – there is NO way you could swallow it; even though it is so fine your subconscious makes you spit it. When Im in a bad bout and there is a lot of this stuff, it has bad impact on any soft tissues – my gums go sensitive and I get terrible plaque on my teeth despite having a sonic toothbrush. And it almost almost killed me with the negative effect on my breathing when it impacted my sinus cavities – in the end I had to do do-it-yourself nasal irrigation learnt during a harelip op to calm things down. I’ve also coughed/vomited, but again it’s NOT that you cough so much/hard you make yourself sick, you cough and vomit just follows. Very distressingly, this even happened to me while I was driving our car on a motorway!
In Feb/Mar 2012, things seemed to stabilise and I could head off coughing attacks with the asthma sprays; all seemed to be looking good for stability until I took the 30min asthma test where I felt the violent breathing/blowing distributed this spiderweb stuff into my lungs again – the tests came back negative for asthma but the following day the coughing attacks returned to frightening levels again. In May I again felt things had started to stabilise and I even had the odd day without Salbutamol. But in the last few days it has come back SO bad nothing was working, which has been scary and is now starting to cause me to breakdown and get upset. In A&E things were so bad I could even see the staff were scared. In desperation, I’d used almost all a Salbutamol spray before eventually going to A&E with no effect. I told them about whooping cough and they just ran bloods, X-ray, checked my chest – all came back negative, and they just won’t acknowledge anything to do with whooping cough, neither confirming or dismissing my queries.
They’ve taken a sample of the ‘rubber spiderwebs’ to test at the path-lab. It’s now been 7months; plus in Oct/Nov 2011 I was attending my GP with a streaming nose – so much so I had to give up tissues and sat with a roll of kitchen towel and a plastic carrier bag. They would only eventually stop talking about allergies/hay fever when one A&E Dr realised antihistamines were doing nothing – the one occasion they’d had an effect was the hospital prescription which had a sedative; the Dr realised it was the sedative not the antihistamine that had an effect. My husband was ill about six weeks after I started – he had 6-8wks of coughing and coughing horrendous yellow phlegm. He is now pretty much recovered.
My mum’s neighbour has the same symptoms – she’s 83 and has just come out of hospital now looking like a skeleton; they are treating her for bronchitis but she says it’s not that. She is a chronic asthmatic and has said its not that either; like me she cannot STAND to go into a warm or steamy environment (something recommended for asthma). The hospitals were stunned when I told them the most comforting thing was to go outside in the snow and breathe in freezing cold air – my mum’s neighbour is the same. I’m now desperate; my GPs are starting to look at me like I’m some hyperchondriac whilst the hospital Dr’s are getting annoyed my GPs don’t seem to be seeing the severity of my condition and doing anything (it’s very scary when you walk into a packed A&E and everyone just drops everything and attends to you immediately without even asking your name … and they look scared and have that whole ‘we’re trying to be calm’ face on). No-one will acknowledge anything to do with whooping cough they just say there’s nothing wrong … “but I’ve just nearly died in front of you – ?” leaves blank looks. I’m very scared because this is now WAY past 100 days, although I do feel I’ve now had two occasions where I feel I’m getting better only to ‘crash’ hard again. I just have to desperately keep clinging to the fact if it is whooping cough there is nothing more that can be given in the way of medical help anyway and it will eventually get better – but that belief is getting so hard now after 7months. I haven’t read anything so far that it can last that long. Because of this, the more the attacks happen the more scared I get that maybe they’re right and it’s something else – but absolutely everything I read points to whooping cough symptoms
. I hope this helps you in what you’re trying to do – it would feel so much better if the medical arena were even just ‘with me’ to get through this even if they cant do anything. But I now leave it sometimes until its nearly too late before going to hospital because I can’t go through anyone else looking at me thinking “but there’s nothing wrong”. If you think this is whooping cough and using this on your site would help people please use it – my only strength has been reading/listening to your pages and thinking “I’m sure that’s what I’ve got”.
Just a note to let you know how accurate and helpful this site was to me. I could not believe the story written by the mother of the two boys and how it resembled my experience. Although my doctor asked early on (my second trip in, week 3) if I had been exposed to Whooping cough, he never really came and said this is what you have. My coughing spells were brutal for weeks and climaxed in the fainting spells, fits and gasping for air. When I played your recorded audio file of the male adult, my son asked if I had recorded my cough on the computer and was playing it back…. it sounded exactly the same. Now as you stated, I am now seven weeks along and am finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel with my coughing attacks down to only a couple a day and no more of the fainting/fits and drooling on myself (thank god) as I am a pretty fit 47 year old man. I understand the need to charge to run your site, but that was the piece that really took any question out of my mind as to what I have. the amount of piece of mind that you gave me was priceless, as it put my mind at ease that this would not become a permanent condition. Thanks for your dead accurate diagnosis and investing your own personal time and money to keep up this site!
Dr. J-I found your website last Tuesday night after my aunt said there was a whooping cough outbreak in my area. We live in Kansas City, MO. I’m not sure where she heard that. All of a sudden, as I listened to my son cough, I thought that could be a “whoop” I was hearing at the end. Your website gave me the sinking feeling that we were in for a long haul! As I listened to the recordings I felt sure that C***** had whooping cough.Let me tell you about C*****& then I will go into the medical detail.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
After studying your website, I am convinced that my husband has had whooping cough. Your thorough explanation of the symptoms and progression of the illness describes his experience exactly; and the sound file of the adult coughing sounds just like his cough. In fact, my son heard it and asked, “Is that Daddy on the internet?”
I read your site and it has helped me very much. You are right about people not coming there until they get the really bad symptoms. My father had whooping cough when he was a baby, he now has it at the age of 56. He had a whooping attack and he looked it up on the internet and your audio sounds helped us know that it was whooping cough. Then I caught it from him. I am 13 and I am in 8th grade. I was in school with it for 2 weeks and I went to the doctor before I started coughing up phlegm. I stayed home from school and took antibiotics. When I wasn’t contagious anymore I went back to school, horrified to find about 6 people in my class coughing.
Thank you for your very informative web site. The sound bites are what helped us know that that was what we were dealing with. Later, our 4 year old had tested positive via nasal swab. We all had a 5 day course of zithromax and were quarantined also. The children were given the codeine cough syrup and it seemed to give some relief, perhaps also peace of mind to us parents that there was something we were doing!
comment=I have just been diagnosed with Whooping cough (age 40) after several visits to the doctor. Of course she never heard me coughing as I only have 3 or 4 attacks a day. Your web page is excellent and it was reassuring to hear the bad whooping as this is exactly the sound my cough makes and indeed is quite frightening when you cant get breath. It would be good to have a section on your page about who to notify once diagnosed.
Thank You Dr. J!!!! You have solved the mystery of my illness and illness my husband shares with me. We live in Central California geographically speaking. My doctor has tried everything and NOTHING has worked. When we listened to the adult coughing… my husband thought it was me!! I’ve had this for almost a month now, and for the first time since getting sick, now have hope of recovery!!! God Bless you Dr. J!!
Dear Dr Jenkinson,
Thank you so much for providing such an informative website.
I have been coughing now for 4 weeks with no respite in site. I started out with a sore throat, runny nose and mild fever for about 2 days and then a clear, productive cough.
Initially it was a very ‘chesty’ cough for a number of days however for the last 2 weeks my symptoms are EXACTLY as you describe. I can have long periods of not coughing but when I do it can go on for ages. I have a very distinct inspiratory stridor just like the audio on this site, often leading to vomiting, I feel dizzy after each episode, and often cannot talk properly following and episode of coughing and have not slept properly in weeks (lying flat exacerbates coughing). I have lost 4kg in this time because swallowing is sometimes difficult and vomiting always likely.
I live in Melbourne , Australia and last week an alert was issued by the Department of Human Services about the incidence of Whooping Cough being on the rise with a 48% increase between December 2007 and December 2008.
I saw my GP 3 times before I asked her to consider whooping cough and only after she and I had been made aware of this alert (I am a registered nurse).
My chest Xray is normal, nasopharyngeal swab negative and blood test only shows “past exposure” however I am convinced by listening to the audio and reading your site that I do in fact have whooping cough.
I described it to my GP as being exactly the like the coughing fit you have when you have eaten something and it has gone down the wrong way. You cough and cough and cough and then you have laryngospasm and that spectacular inspiratory stridor and once resolved you can’t talk properly and when you do that can start the coughing again.
I am going to email the Department of Human Services to suggest he adds a link to your website on their fact sheets.
Congratulations on brilliant work.
My wife and I were on a Caribbean island 4 weeks ago when I started a mild cough. You know the rest. I have been to two very good doctors, neither of which thought of Whooping Cough. It was not until I found your site that I discovered what this nasty illness is. Fortunately, I am much better and my wife is improving a little each day. There have been 3 distinct occasions where I thought I was dying. I took antibiotics and two rounds of steroids – they helped alot. Your recording nailed it for me as it sounds quite familiar.
This is an excellent, informative, and easy-to-understand bit of information. Thank you very much.
Reviewed 20 March 2023