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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hmmm.......asthma or whooping cough (pertussis)?

(Shutterstock image)

Having young kids is REALLY hard!!!! It seems like my kids were ALWAYS sick when they were little. I used to think "Is this what parenthood is like??!! This stinks big time!!

I remember sitting in the Pediatrician's office with Son #1, and asking him "Is it just me? Or does it seem like my son is sick ALL THE TIME??!! If he's not coughing, then he has a fever/rash/is throwing up, etc. Just when he gets over one illness, he's sick again. Pediatrician said, "Well, you can let him get exposed to germs now, or keep him home and he'll miss his whole year of kindergarten."

Thanks, that is a comforting thought.....

Kids with asthma are always sicker than "normal" kids (aka kids without asthma) because it affects the lungs so much. Those of us with asthma have lungs that are 'hypersensitive and hyper-responsive' ie "the drama queen affect." When our lungs are exposed to a 'trigger' or an illness, our lungs go into overdrive. That means swelling, mucus production and broncho-constriction (the bands that surround the bronchial tubes tighten and shorten.) So all 3 of those things make it harder to breathe. 

What if your child is coughing, coughing, and coughing but never seems to get better? With asthma, a cough always lasts longer than for "normal" kids. But what if it doesn't seem to fit the pattern for asthma. Could it be something else? What about pertussis (aka Whooping Cough)? 

So, people still get Whooping Cough? Yep. Since many people don't vaccinate their children, the disease has started to spread. Some kids are too little to get all the doses of  Pertussis, and if they are around someone who has Pertussis, well......they're going to get really sick :(

I always thought that if you had Pertussis, you had to have that "whooping" sound when you cough. 

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Red, watery eyes
  • A mild fever
  • Dry cough
 Then, after a couple of weeks, the coughing can cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Result in a red or blue face
  • Cause extreme fatigue
  • End with a high-pitched "whoop" sound during the next breath of air
"However, many people don't develop the characteristic whoop. Sometimes, a persistent hacking cough is the only sign that an adolescent or adult has whooping cough." 

Wow! Who knew?

If you have child with asthma, and something "doesn't seem right" or they have any of the symptoms listed above. Check  with your doctor. It might just be a really bad asthma flare up, or it could be Whooping Cough. Let's hope it's not that.....but that's what we pay the doctor to figure out.


  1. Hi Andrea, my name is Gary Fitzgerald and I'm an editor with Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), a nonprofit patient education organization. We produce a magazine called "Allergy & Asthma Today."

    I am writing a story about managing stress and asthma/allergies during the holidays and I found your Nov. 16, 2012, blog entry "Stress Causes Asthma Attacks" via Google.

    I was wondering if you wouldn't mind contacting me -- I'd like to interview you, either by phone or email, about how you manage stress during holidays and any advice you would suggest. We're happy to promote your blog in our publications as well. (Congratulation on being named one of the Best Asthma Blogs of 2013!)

    You can email me at

    Thank you for any help you can provide!

    1. Hi Gary, thanks for stopping by! I subscribe to Allergy and Asthma Today and would be happy to help any way I can.

      I write the blog to help other parents, so if I can do anything to make life easier for others, I will!

      I will contact you via email

  2. Wow. Awesome post. Well thought and is very informative.
    Thanks. I really learned a lot from it. Keep it up.

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    1. Hi Sofia,

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad I can help others with what I have learned :)

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    1. Medecine alternative is very useful for energy negative to.

    2. Hi Mercedes,

      I'm glad you found something that works for you, everyone is different when it comes to treating asthma.

      I'm glad she also works with conventional medication as well. It can be dangerous to stop using a medication your doctor has recommended :(

  4. Hi Andrea,

    I wanted to reach out because I'm doing research for a start-up that's creating a new network of astma bloggers, with the goal of improving communications between the healthcare industry and patients on the web. To do this right, we want to get some real-world feedback and have put together a short questionnaire. Would you be open to helping out? It will take 8-10 minutes and can be either e-mail or phone, whichever is best for you.


    1. Hi Janet,

      Leave your contact information and I will contact you :)

  5. One of my friend using Flovent Generic for her asthma attack. Her doctor was recommended this Inhaler to her. It worked very well for her. I definitely recommend it, but not without consulting your doctor.

  6. You say that whooping cough still exists because some people don't vaccinate their children. I'm assuming that you are one of those people that do not vaccinate your children, because if you did vaccinate them, why did they still get whooping cough?

    1. Shaniqua, you need to read the blog post more carefully :)

      I DO vaccinate all of my children and myself (did you know that you need a booster shot as an adult to protect yourself against whooping cough?!)

      My children have NEVER had whooping cough. Some people may have whooping cough and confuse it with asthma.

      They may assume that is why they can't seem to get rid of their cough - that is asthma.

      That's what the blog post was trying to explain :)

  7. Infants get their first pertussis vaccine at 2 months old. So by the time they are old enough to be considered "kids", they would have been fully vaccinated, correct?

    The way you wrote the above paragraphs it makes it sound as if people's fully vaccinated asthmatic kids could have whooping cough on top of asthma. Or they are getting WC even though they are vaccinated.

    I would expect a person who is not vaccinating their children should expect said child to eventually show up with whooping cough, so it's unlikely that WC would surprise them.

    Was the point of the article to remind parents to keep up with their boosters for themselves? For their children? Both?

    Is it very common for people to confuse asthma with WC?

    I do know they both involve repetitive spasmodic deep lung coughing and gasping.
    Whereas WC can appear with or without a whoop, and a whoop or deep breath after the coughing jag would mean that they are actually breathing. From the asthma attacks that I have heard, asthma involves more gasping and attempts to breathe than actual coughing since asthmatics have a hard time actually getting in air.

    1. Yes, fully vaccinated kids can get whopping cough on top of asthma. No vaccine is 100% effective at preventing illness.

      This article was written because I have a friend whose son does have asthma, was up to date on all of his immunizations, and STILL contracted whooping cough.

      Yes - it is also common for people to confuse asthma and whooping cough. My friend's doctor didn't properly diagnose her son with whooping cough for over a week! The doctor thought it was the child's asthma flaring up.


      I'm not sure what asthma attacks you "have heard," but I can assure you that coughing is VERY MUCH a part of asthma attacks. It may help you to read this Mayo Clinic article about symptoms of asthma attacks. Coughing is listed several times in the symptom section.

      Everyone with asthma is different, but I personally have never gasped for air when I have an asthma attack. Ever.

      I have had asthma all my life - nearly 50 years. And I can tell you from personal experience, that when I have an attack, I cough uncontrollably, as do all three of my teenagers.

      There are many people who have Cough Variant asthma, meaning the main symptom of their asthma attack is a dry, productive cough. This article from WebMd explains it

      This is probably hard for you to understand, because it sound like you don't have asthma. You can read about asthma, be around someone who has an asthma attack, but unless you live with it day in and day out, you can't possibly know what it's like.

      It sounds like you are just trying to learn more about asthma, hopefully those articles can help you.


  8. I have a three year old and a six year old and they both have whooping cough! It was misdiagnosed for approx 6 weeks �� My daughter who is 6 first had a cold, kind of went away then came back with a cough so she got antibiotics, it didn't get better so she then was put on antibiotics with steroids, just as she was finishing her medicine my three year old got a cold, same scenario as my daughter, antibiotics then a steroid and nothing cleared up! This went on the whole of the Xmas the time school had started it was just a cough that wouldn't go away (both my children tend to have long lasting coughs so this wasn't unusual for me) if only I knew ! ��
    My daughter went to school and a couple days later a note was sent home saying whooping cough had been detected! Ok straight to the doctor to be tested please!!! We all stayed home till we found out results and yep it was whooping cough (and yes my children are immunised) my daughter is getting better after three days on the medication but my son is still coughing/choking quite a bit, it's just so terrible to watch but I'm hoping in next couple days he will get on top of this!!!

    1. I'm so sorry. What a horrible experience. My kids have never had it, but my friend's daughter did and she told me how scary it was!

      Sometimes it takes getting the first kid in school diagnosed, then they notify the other parents who say "Ah ha!" And head to the doctor!

      Fingers crossed that your little guy will recover quickly! :)

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