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  • Writer's pictureHealthwatch West Berkshire

Are you coughing at lot? It could be Whooping Cough

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial lung infection.

Vaccination is crucial for infants and children to prevent serious complications. Symptoms include cold-like signs initially, followed by prolonged coughing fits, potential breathing difficulties, and vomiting. Seek urgent medical advice if symptoms worsen, especially for infants under 6 months old or if you've been in contact with a confirmed case and are pregnant or have a weakened immune system.

Whooping cough can lead to severe issues like dehydration, pneumonia, or seizures in infants, while older individuals may experience complications such as sore ribs or urinary incontinence due to prolonged coughing. Immediate medical attention is necessary if breathing becomes difficult, chest pain occurs, or seizures develop.

Treatment varies based on age and duration of infection, often requiring hospitalization for severe cases or infants under 6 months old. Antibiotics may be prescribed within the first 3 weeks to reduce contagion but may not alleviate symptoms. Completing the antibiotic course is crucial to prevent relapse.

To alleviate symptoms, rest, hydration, and pain relievers like paracetamol or ibuprofen are recommended. Avoid giving aspirin to children and do not use cough medicines, especially for young children.

Whooping cough is contagious for about 6 days after cold-like symptoms begin, extending up to 3 weeks after coughing starts. Staying away from others until 48 hours after starting antibiotics or 3 weeks after symptom onset without antibiotics is essential.

Routine vaccination, including the 6-in-1 and 4-in-1 vaccines for children and the vaccine during pregnancy between 16 and 32 weeks, is crucial in preventing whooping cough.

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