Whooping cough is doing the rounds in the UK as cases of pertussis have hit a 10-year high – here are the key symptoms to keep an eye out for in both yourself and your children
Parents whose kids are suffering from whooping cough should watch out for certain signs that their child should stay at home and when they should call 999.
Also known as the 100-day cough, cases of pertussis have hit a 10-year high in the UK. Those with the illness are warned to stay off work and school to limit the spread. The condition is tricky to identify until symptoms have really set in as it can often be confused with a more common illness like a cold or flu.
The Liverpool Echo reports the condition can be treated with antibiotics, however in more serious cases, especially where young children are concerned, things may need to escalate further. Knowing when the signs and symptoms get worse is vital to making sure you get the proper care.
Check if you or your child has whooping cough
The first signs of whooping cough are similar to a cold, such as a runny nose and sore throat (a high temperature is uncommon). After about a week, you or your child:
- Will get coughing bouts that last for a few minutes and are worse at night. The cough itself may last for several weeks or even months.
- May make a “whoop” sound – a gasp for breath between coughs (young babies and some adults may not “whoop”)
- May have difficulty breathing after a coughing bout and may turn blue or grey (young infants)
- May bring up a thick mucus, which can make you vomit
- May become very red in the face (more common in adults)
The NHS says people who have whooping cough are contagious from about six days after the start of cold-like symptoms to three weeks after the coughing starts. If you start antibiotics within three weeks of having a cough, it will reduce the length of the contagious period. Parents with youngsters at school should stay off school, work or nursery until 48 hours after starting antibiotics, or three weeks after symptoms started if you’ve not had antibiotics.
When it’s time to call 999 or go to A&E
- If you or your child’s lips, tongue, face or skin suddenly turn blue or grey (on black or brown skin this may be easier to see on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet)
- you or your child are finding it hard to breathe properly (shallow breathing)
- you or your child have chest pain that’s worse when breathing or coughing – this could be a sign of pneumonia
- your child is having seizures (fits)
The Mirror recently reported how officials in Wales recently issued a warning as cases of the “100-day-cough” had reached a decade high. Public Health Wales has urged those eligible to get vaccinated against whooping cough as cases have risen to levels that were seen in 2012 and 2015.
Whooping cough is highly contagious and can lead to serious health complications. According to PHW, babies under six months old are at most risk. It can be very serious and lead to pneumonia and permanent brain damage. Young babies with whooping cough are at risk of dying from the disease.
The vaccine for whooping cough (or pertussis) is routinely offered to pregnant women to give their unborn baby protection in the first few weeks following their birth.
The six-in-one vaccine is given to babies at eight, 12 and 16 weeks and then again to pre-school-aged children. PHW said in recent weeks, cases of whooping cough have shown a “rapid increase”.