How to help: Call your doctor immediately if you suspect whooping cough. Babies under 6 months will need to be hospitalized. The infection is treated with antibiotics, and other adults and children in your household may need preventive antibiotics and a booster shot to avoid getting sick. (Whooping cough is highly contagious, and immunity begins to wane five years after immunization.) Antibiotics will clear up the infection after about five days if they're started early enough, but your child's cough may linger for months and also return when she gets subsequent respiratory infections.
There is also data showing that antibiotics are helpful during preterm labor for women who carry bacteria called group B streptococcus (GBS). About one in five women will carry GBS, and babies who get infected during labor and delivery can become very sick. Antibiotics can treat GBS and reduce complications of a subsequent infection in the newborn, but carry risks for the mother ( Ohlssen & Shah, 2009 ). Most care providers test women for the bacteria about a month before their due date. The test involves taking swab samples from the lower vagina and rectum. Because it can take two or three days for test results to be returned, the general practice is to go ahead and begin treating a woman for GBS before confirmation of infection if a woman is in preterm labor. Most doctors think that this presumptive treatment is justified because as many as one in four women test positive for GBS. Ampicillin and penicillin are the antibiotics most commonly used for treatment.
Naturopathic pediatricians typically recommend rubbing your child’s chest with essential oils in a base oil like coconut oil. Some recommended essential oils for croup include tea tree, thyme and lavender. I highly recommend making a homemade vapor rub to have on hand for situations like this. (Note: Eucalyptus should be avoided in children 2 and under.) You can swap out essential oils as desired. Just always make sure to perform a small skin patch test (for example, on your child’s forearm) to rule out any possible allergic reactions.