After a week with a dry cough, 16-year-old Ian McCracken started experiencing middle-of-the-night coughing fits so severe he couldn’t talk. He returned home from his first trip to the urgent care clinic in mid-July with an inhaler and a five-day course of steroids.
The coughing fits didn’t abate, and after a few days, Ian jumped out of bed and got his mom’s attention by clapping his hands, unable to get any words out. The Decatur, Ga., teenager gasped for air, tears running down his face.
His mother, Karen Andes, took her son to another doctor, who suggested Ian may have reflux.
But a combination of Andes’ medical background (she’s an assistant professor of global health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University) and a mother’s intuition told her something else was tormenting her son – pertussis, also known as whooping cough.