Based in Lake County, Illinois, Heidi Cardenas has been freelancing since 2000. She studied business administration at the College of Lake County and has a background in human resources administration. She has written for "Chicago Parent Magazine" and guest blogs for The Herb Companion, Natural Living and TribLocal. She enjoys writing on a wide range of topics, but especially gardening, natural living, and home and family eco topics.
Although pertussis, or whooping cough, is most common in unvaccinated babies and the elderly, a spasmodic cough lingering more than two weeks, especially accompanied by the telltale “whoop,” warrants attention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that pertussis, called whooping cough, is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, which is contracted through air-borne particles, commonly from sneezing and coughing but also from surface contact. Pertussis symptoms start out like the common cold, with congestion, runny nose, sneezing, mild fever or light cough, but turn into severe coughing after a week or so and persist with rapid, uncontrolled, spasmodic coughing with “whooping” sounds indicating difficulty breathing. Pertussis can develop into bronchitis or pneumonia, and quickly exhausts and dehydrates the sufferer without proper care and treatment. Preventative measures include vaccination, vitamin D and C supplementation, and hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing and not touching your mouth and nose.
Untreated whooping cough can so exhaust sufferers that they are prone to other infections and illnesses. Antibiotics, which kill the bacteria responsible for the infection, are the most common medical treatment for relief of active whooping cough. Effective home treatment for whooping cough includes bed rest (but avoid lying flat, which can aggravate whooping cough spasms), keeping warm and avoiding chills and drafts, drinking plenty of clear, sugar-free fluids including water, avoiding milk and milk-based foods like yogurt, eliminating sugar, and eating small meals every couple of hours to keep up energy and replenish nutrients.
Immune-boosting garlic has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties that make it useful for treating coughs. Photo By Galaiko Sergey/Courtesy Fotolia.
In addition to rest, hydration and nutrition, several natural home remedies help alleviate whooping cough symptoms (as well as cold and flu symptoms) and clear the pertussis infection. A teaspoon of fresh garlic juice taken 2 to 3 times a day is a potent, effective treatment. Press fresh garlic cloves with a citrus or garlic press or electric juice machine. Another natural treatment is drinking syrup made from boiling 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon of Fenugreek seeds, sweetened with honey. Or take a preparation of fresh organic ginger root juice, fresh white onion juice plus 1 teaspoon of pure almond oil 3 times a day. A pinch of the Indian curry spice turmeric, taken at least twice a day, relieves whooping cough symptoms and helps clear the bacterial infection. (Odorless garlic and turmeric capsules may not be as effective as fresh ingredients, whose odors can be minimized by chewing fresh mint).
Garlic is a strong antiseptic with antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antispasmodic, antiparasitic and expectorant properties. It’s a good source of vitamins B1 and B6, vitamin C and manganese, and also contains vitamin A and vitamin B2, all strengthening and energy-enhancing nutrients. It has more than 80 different sulfur compounds, which the National Institutes of Health reports are possible cancer-preventative agents. Garlic syrup, created from boiling cloves of garlic for half a day and sweetened with honey and ginger, is an effective natural cough syrup.
Ginger has antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. It boosts the immune system, warms and induces sweating (which helps push fever and toxins out of the body), and calms coughs and sore throats quickly. It also stimulates appetite, which is important to sick individuals weakened by infection.
Turmeric’s health benefits come from its active compound, curcumin, which has been found in a recent Michigan University study to improve cell health by “calming” cell activity so cellular processes such as infection fighting and material exchanges work better. It also contains proteins and minerals and is a good source of vitamin C and potassium. It is an appetite stimulant with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, restoring cellular order and health, making it a strong ally in fighting infections like whooping cough.