Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
Whooping Cough
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Whooping Cough

I am convinced my 12 year old daughter has whooping cough (although I could have scared myself with Google), 4 weeks ago she came down with an awful cold, and a mild cough, the second week the cold cleared up and the cough got worse, to the point she was bringing up huge amounts of phlegm. I took her to the doctors and he said he couldn't hear anything on her chest, but give her some antibiotics, then after the third week of coughing so much she was being sick and waking up during the night, I started to Google her symptoms, that is when I started to suspect whooping cough. These coughing fits go on for quite some time and she makes a whoop sound usually in the middle of a coughing fit, like she's trying to catch her breath and then carry's on coughing, we got another appointment with the dr and mentioned that I thought it may be whooping cough, the dr looked at me as though I was mad, and dismissed what I had told him, I said to him that she was whooping but on his report he wrote wheezing, and asked if there was any history of asthma.  Later that night after listening to her coughing and gasping for breath, I took her to the emergency doctors for a second opinion, the doctor checked her over and again said she couldn't hear anything on her chest and everything was ok, with her. I am so angry and scared that I can't get anyone to even consider the possibility, as she has been around my grandson who is only 5 weeks old, and although it was before she had any symptoms I would like the reassurance, as he hasn't been vaccinated. I feel totally helpless and just wondered if she does have whooping cough would the doctor be able to hear it in her chest? or would anything be wrong with her oxygen levels? as these are the only things they have checked on her and said that they are fine, but something isn't right with her, as her cough has lasted a month now and is making her sick.

242587_tn?1355427710
What you describe, in excellent detail, is quite consistent with the diagnosis of whooping cough (pertussis), in past times primarily a disease of children but in the past 30 years or so, also a disease of adults, especially young adults.  Initial symptoms, that usually last from a few days to a week, are similar to those of the common cold and only then does the severe cough begin and this can remain severe for a month or so, followed by the recovery phase during which cough can still be severe but less so and last for 3-6 months.  During much of this time physical findings of lung involvement may be absent.

Treatment with antibiotic therapy is effective, more so during the early and middle stages of the disease; less so during convalescence.  Preventive therapy for those definitely exposed to others with the disease, especially exposure to those who are in the early and middle stages of their disease is also effective and this might be a consideration for your grandson.

I suggest that you request (of your daughter’s doctors) consultation with an infectious disease specialist, an internal medicine doctor or a pediatrician who will give serious consideration to the diagnosis of pertussis,  consider diagnostic studies to confirm the diagnosis and decide if antibiotic therapy might still be therapeutic.

As for your grandson, he should definitely be taken to his pediatrician based on your strong suspicion that he has been exposed to pertussis, during the infectious stage of your daughter’s disease.

Finally, I suggest that you contact you contact your State Department of Public Health to report the probability that your daughter has pertussis to get information regarding confirmation of the diagnosis and to enable the Public Health people to take measures to identify and prophylactically treat anyone who might have been exposed to your daughter during the active phase of her disease.  If this proves to be pertussis, you and all members of your family may be at risk of contracting the disease.

I urge you to take action now and not accept the conclusion, of the doctors who have seen your daughter, that she does not or “cannot” have whooping cough.

Good luck
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Thank you so much for your reply, she has had two lots of antibiotics, she was put on amoxicillin first then clarythromicin (sp?) as they said she probably has some infection but it won't be whooping cough, her cough has calmed down a lot now although she is still having long couging fits, she's not being sick anymore and isn't making the whooping sound,  my grandson was taken to his doctor to mention that he could have been in contact with the disease, but they said that they don't like to give babies antibiotics unless it's really necessary, but they did say if he shows any signs of a cold/cough to bring him straight in, it was over five weeks ago when we saw him now, is this long enough for us to be certain he hasn't contracted it? Also with regards to getting my daughter tested would she still be show positive for pertussis after so long? Thank you again for you time
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