This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
Whooping cough, sometimes called chin cough, when well established, cannot readily be mistaken. The force of the disease varies much, even in its simplest form. In some instances, it is so slight that it can scarcely be determined after recovery, whether the child has had Whooping cough or not. In others, again it is very severe, with frequent and violent paroxysms, which seem to threaten suffocation. By the pressure upon the brain, fatal convulsions are sometimes brought on, and death may also take place from asphyxia during the paroxysms. In protracted cases, great emaciation and debility sometimes ensue, and the patient may die of exhaustion. But these fatal terminations are comparatively rare; and most of those children said to die of Whooping cough generally die of a complication of Whooping cough with croup, or with bronchial inflammation or inflammation of some portion of the bowels. Whooping cough is of a spasmodic nature; it is one of those complaints that usually attack a person but once in a lifetime. It is very apt to prevail as an epidemic, and by some persons is thought to be contagious, but I am not by any means convinced of the correctness of this opinion. Persons advanced in life are sometimes attacked with it, and Dr. Watson mentions a case in which a child was born with it. There is no doubt the cause of the complaint must be sought in the condition of the atmosphere.
In the early stage, if the cough is moderate, we may commence by giving a mild purgative, as Castor Oil, Magnesia, Tartrate of Soda, or Epsom Salts, according to the age of the child. This may be followed by a dose of the following mixture:-
Ipecacuanha Wine.........................Two Drains.
Antimonial Wine..........................Two Drams.
Oxymel of Squills...........................Half an Ounce.
Ten drops of this may be given for each year of the child's age, three or four times a day; for instance, if the child is three years old, it may take 30 drops, and if six years old, 60 drops for a dose. If the child is feverish, a teaspoonful of the Fever Mixture, No. 9, may be added to each dose. Sometimes considerable relief will be derived from applying a warm plaister (Burgundy Pitch) to the chest or back; bathing the feet and legs in hot water night and morning will be beneficial; and the body, and feet and legs in particular, should be warmly clad. Where there is much restlessness at night, Hyoscyamus (Henbane) will be useful. A child of five years old might take one grain of Extract of Henbane, combined with one grain of powdered Squill. Sometimes a drink of cold water, or the sucking of a small piece of ice tied up in a piece of muslin, will give relief from the spasm. The diet should be light and nourishing, consisting of gruel, sago, arrow root, jelly, ground rice, with chicken broth, and, as the patient progresses towards recovery, a little chicken or boiled mutton will be beneficial. In many cases, where the cough seems to linger on long after all inflammatory symptoms have disappeared, and medicine seems to have no further effect, a removal to a higher and drier locality, and a purer air, will frequently work wonders, and cause a rapid recovery. In fact, a change of air seems sometimes absolutely necessary to obtain a cure.
Benzine, a substance contained in the purifying chambers of gas works, if placed in small quantities in the room or bed of a child suffering from Whooping cough, produces exactly the same smell as is observed in gas works, and has the effect of relieving the distressing symptoms, sometimes rapidly. Dr. Lochner tried the plan on his own child, and he states that the disease itself only lasted six days.