Pertussis is a violent cough, sometimes called whooping cough. A vaccine for pertussis was developed in 1948. Before then, children in the United States often died from it. The disease is rising again because fewer people are getting vaccinated.

Signs and Symptoms

The three phases of the disease are listed below.

Catarrhal phase (lasts one to two weeks): Paroxysmal phase (lasts one to four weeks): Convalescent phase (lasts two weeks to several months):

What Causes It?

A type of bacteria causes pertussis, and it is spread through droplets coughed into the air. It is a highly contagious disease.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Your health care provider will prescribe an antibiotic, which helps prevent the disease from spreading. Patients with complications, severe coughing bouts, or who are under one year of age are hospitalized.

Treatment Options

Treatment is largely to control symptoms and prevent spread. Quarantine, parenteral fluid and nutrition, oxygen supplementation, and mechanical ventilation may be required.

Drug Therapies

Surgical and Other Procedures

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Pertussis can be treated with nutrition, herbs, and homeopathy.


Note: Doses given are for children. Adults should double the amounts.


Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots.

Catarrhal stage: Choose two herbs from each of the first three categories. Combine in equal parts in a tea (½ cup every three to four hours), a tincture or glycerite (30 drops every three to four hours).

Paroxysmal stage: In addition to the above formula, combine 2 parts of catnip with two to four of the other antispasmodic herbs in a tincture or glycerite (20 drops every one to two hours).

Immune-stimulating herbs: Expectorants: Antiseptics: Antispasmodics:


Although very few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths may consider the following remedies as a supplemental treatment for the symptoms of pertussis as long as the underlying infection has been appropriately treated. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type. A constitutional type is defined as a person's physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for each individual.

Physical Medicine


May enhance immunity and decrease duration and severity of infection.


Foot massage has a relaxing effect and can help induce sleep.

Following Up

Complete recovery is expected unless there are complications.

Special Considerations

Vaccinations are 80 to 90 percent effective. They last about 12 years.


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