Whooping Cough, an affection characterized by paroxysms of convulsive cough, accompanied by short and sudden acts of noisy expiration, followed by a long and whooping inspiration; it is the chincough of the English, the pertussis of Sydenham, and the coqueluche of the French. It generally occurs but once in the life of an individual, and most frequently during infancy or childhood. It does not appear to have been distinguished from catarrhal affections until about the 18th century, and it is almost exclusively confined to temperate and cold regions. It begins with the symptoms of ordinary catarrh, which continue five or ten days, after which the convulsive character of the cough becomes manifest, at intervals of from half an hour to four hours; the paroxysm is attended with the signs of threatened suffocation, lividity and swelling of the face and neck, fulness of the eyes, quick pulse, and extreme agitation; at the end of a few minutes the coughing ceases on the vomiting of food or tough mucus; in severe cases there may be discharges of blood from the nose and mouth, and even fits of faintness.
When the whoop is established, the catarrhal symptoms diminish or disappear, the fever is very slight, and the child may be lively, with good appetite, and apparently well in the intervals of the paroxysms; after three or four weeks, in the most favorable cases, the cough becomes looser and milder, with longer intervals, and finally ceases in two or three months, though recovery may be much delayed by unpleasant weather or exposure to cold. - Simple whooping cough runs its limited time, not amenable to medical treatment, and is rarely if ever fatal; but its complications of pulmonary and cerebral disease may destroy life, or leave various marks of irritation and inflammation in the lungs and brain, while the simple disease leaves no trace which throws light upon its nature. It may occur at all seasons, sometimes epidemically, and is unquestionably often communicated by infection. The whoop and the paroxysmal character of the cough prevent this disease from being confounded with any other. In simple cases the prognosis is favorable, but its complications in teething, unhealthy, or recently weaned children are dangerous and frequently fatal.
In uncomplicated whooping cough the treatment consists, in the first stage, of that proper for ordinary catarrh, with gentle laxatives and emetics, low diet, simple expectorants, and confinement in a well ventilated, moderately warm room; careful watch must be kept for pulmonary inflammation, which must be met at once by appropriate remedies. When the second or paroxysmal stage has been fairly established, with diminution of fever, return of appetite, and an approach to health during the intervals, a change of air from the city to the country, and vice versa, with antispasmodics and expectorants, will complete the cure.