Whooping cough - Symptoms 

Symptoms of whooping cough 

The symptoms of whooping cough usually take between six and 20 days to appear after infection with the Bordetella pertussis bacterium. This delay is known as the incubation period.

Whooping cough tends to develop in stages, with mild symptoms occurring first, followed by a period of more severe symptoms, before improvement begins.

Early symptoms

The early symptoms of whooping cough are often similar to those of a common cold and may include:

  • runny or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • watering eyes
  • dry, irritating cough
  • sore throat 
  • slightly raised temperature
  • feeling generally unwell

These early symptoms of whooping cough can last for one to two weeks, before becoming more severe.

Paroxysmal symptoms

The second stage of whooping cough is often called the paroxysmal stage and is characterised by intense bouts of coughing. The bouts are sometimes referred to as 'paroxysms' of coughing.

The paroxysmal symptoms of whooping cough may include:

  • intense bouts of coughing, which bring up thick phlegm
  • a 'whoop' sound with each sharp intake of breath after coughing (although this may not occur in infants and young children, see below)
  • vomiting after coughing, especially in infants and young children
  • tiredness and redness in the face from the effort of coughing

Each bout of coughing usually lasts between one and two minutes, but several bouts may occur in quick succession and last several minutes. The number of coughing bouts experienced each day varies, but is usually between 12 and 15.

The paroxysmal symptoms of whooping cough usually last at least two weeks, but can last longer, even after treatment. This is because the cough continues even after the Bordetella pertussis bacterium has been cleared from your body.

Infants and young children

Infants younger than six months may not make the 'whoop' sound after coughing, but they may start gagging or gasping, and may temporarily stop breathing.

Though very rare, it is possible for whooping cough to cause sudden unexpected death in infants (see complications of whooping cough for more information).

Young children may also seem to choke or become blue in the face (cyanosis) when they have a bout of coughing. This looks worse than it is, and breathing will quickly start again.

Adults and older children

In adults and older children, the paroxysmal symptoms of whooping cough are far less severe than in young children, and may appear more like symptoms of a milder respiratory infection, such as bronchitis.

Recovery stage

Eventually, the symptoms of whooping cough gradually start to improve, with fewer and less extreme bouts of coughing occurring. This period of recovery can last up to three months or more.

However, intense bouts of coughing may still occur during this period.

When to seek medical advice

You should always see your GP if you think you or your child may have developed whooping cough.

If this is the case you will need to be prescribed antibiotics.

When to seek immediate medical advice

You should seek immediate medical advice if:

  • you have a baby of six months or younger who appears to be very unwell – read more about spotting the signs of serious illness in young children
  • you (or your child) appears to be experiencing significant breathing difficulties such as extended periods of breathlessness
  • you (or your child) develops serious complications, such as seizures (fits) or pneumonia, an infection that causes inflammation of the tissues in your lungs

Call your GP immediately. If this is not possible then call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or your local out-of-hours service.

Page last reviewed: 26/06/2012

Next review due: 26/06/2014

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Comments

The 48 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Kitt Kat said on 01 April 2014

Reading the comments it is really frightening to see how many people have been struck down with this vicious illness.
More worrying is the fact people here have been told they have a chest infection.
In September 2011 I started having a dry cough and thought nothing of it ...within 5 days I was violently coughing in fits then almost non stop with anything setting it off ...yawning, talking, eating .
When I went to the doctors desperate for help they told me it was a chest infection ...6 weeks of trying to get help after being up till almost 4.00 in the morning I gave up with the doctors went to hospital where they just told me I wasn't trying hard enough to get an appointment they advised me to use and inhaler and steroids.
I went straight to a walk in centre and within 30 seconds of explaining my symptoms as well as my dad showing signs a week after me I was told it was whooping cough.
The cough went on for almost 3 months...coughing until I heaved most times ...coughing in my sleep and being woken up by almost heaving. Exhausted hardly eating and running mainly on adrenaline from coughing so much.
Wouldn't wish whooping cough on anyone.

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mjohnc1 said on 14 December 2013

I developed a cough some 8 weeks ago which initially had me spitting out small amounts of clear phlegm. After a week or so I was having serious coughing spasms which left me breathless. At night I would get up to have a cough to find that after one single cough I could not breathe in a again for several seconds producing panic as I was on my hands and knees gasping unsucessfully for air. I dreaded going to bed for several days and then paid a visit to the gp locum who tested for lungs (OK) and blood oxgen levels (OK) and then diagnosed nasal drip/ allergic rhinitis and put me onto cough medicine and a steroid nasal spray. Having looked up rhinitis symptoms on the nhs web site (sneezing /runny nose etc) which I did not have,. I now doubt the diagnosis. Severe coughing /spitting bouts , a physical presence in my upper chest and difficulty in breathing following coughing continued for the next 6 weeks. It does now appear to be abating at long last. I have tried going for a swim but this does appear to give me a bad coughing day afterwards. I believe I have had whooping cough and will be seeking a jab to protect me from this for the next decade as I don't think I would survive next time. I am a a very fit, active 67 year old.

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suziemc46 said on 04 December 2013

I have had a cold for the last 2-3 weeks. Last Wed my cough got really bad, so bad I had to leave a restaurant. I have been attending my work and going into a separate room when I have a coughing fit. Yesterday, I had a really bad one. My boss and another woman, who is a retired child’s nurse came into the room and said that they were convinced I had whooping cough. Due to this being a “notifiable disease” my boss felt I shouldn’t be in the work place, so insisted I attend my doctor. I just thought I had a cold with a stubborn cough, I didn’t know anything about whooping cough, thinking it was a child’s disease, so this hadn’t even entered my head. I called from her office and after a bit of a carry on, I attend my GP yesterday at 3pm. I explained my symptoms – coughing, gasping for breath, vomiting on occasion during a coughing fit – and told him what the woman in my work said. I had not saw this GP before and he checked my temperature, chest and throat – said he it was a cold and prescribed 500mg’s x 3 capsules per day of amoxicillin. At home, I checked whooping cough on the NHS website and all the symptoms are what I have, even down to the “whooping” noise during coughing (although I didn’t know that was what it was). I checked utube to sounds of adults with whooping cough and that is what my cough is like. I’m now concerned about attending work as I work in a jobcentre, so I am dealing with lone parents to young children, sick and elderly as well as working alongside others with young children and the person sitting next to me has a disabled child. I’ve taken today off to give the antibiotics a chance to kick in but I’m concerned that I’m still in the contagious stage. No tests were taken by my GP – no swabs of mucus or from my throat or blood taken. I’m not one to take time off “sick” in my work place, especially with a “cold” but this is certainly different. Apart from the coughing fits and feeling breathless and sometimes being sick, I feel fine. Advice?

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helly1971 said on 18 September 2013

I'm a healthy, fully immunised 42 yr old, who without doubt judging by my symptoms, developed Whooping Cough in June 2013. Despite me having classical symptoms of paroxysmal coughing with long bouts of NO coughing, vomiting after coughing, large quantities of clear stringy phlegm, apnoea and choking and occasional "whooping", my GP never confirmed the diagnosis with either a nasal swab or blood test. She gave me Erythromicin at a sub therapeutic level and it was too late to work. Another Whooping Cough case which PHE will never have been notified of!!
It is NOT a mild illness in all adults, a cough like no other I've ever experienced. Frightening and disabling. Three months later I'm still having bouts of paroxysmal coughing made worse by a recent cold. There is a constant tickle in my throat. My ribs and back hurt. More worryingly, I also managed to give the illness to my friend, a health visitor, who runs baby clinics. A huge contact tracing exercise had to be undertaken by the health authorities. I suspect only a tiny proportion of whooping cough is being reported hiding the true epidemiology and extent of this illness. I have been shocked by the lack of medical knowledge and blase attitude shown by health care professionals.

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kkatkatk said on 15 September 2013

My partner has had a hacking cough for about 3-4 months now. same symptoms as described below. he lives a healthy lifestlyle non drinker non smoker and only in his 30's. no history of any chest problems. docs have taken bloods, xrays and other breath tests all of which are fine. not once at the docs or the hosp has anyone ever mentioned it could be whooping cough!!!
i find this incredible as after reading this page it quite clearly is whooping cough.
we never consiered it before as the docs never mentioned it at all.
why are the medical professionals not diagnosing this and instead sending people away worried it might be something worse like lung cancer or something and sending them for all these tests which obviously cost the NHS money and then just leaving it as "your test show nothing."
why has no one said "dont worry, you dont need loads of tests, its unlikley to be something serious. with these symptoms it could be whooping cough. there is alot of it going around."
that seems to be the common sense thing to me!!!

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Anonymous said on 05 June 2013

Hello everyone, I too am having the same symptoms as many of you have described.

I started off with what I thought was a cold/cough at the beginning of May, was prescribed antibiotics which did not work as I did not feel any better after completing the course. Coughing had got worse.

Not sleeping, choking fits more so at night, loss off appetite, sore throat, headaches, frothy mucous etc., and generally feeling very weak.

Have had the Whooping Cough blood test this week and a chest X ray and am awaiting the results.

I seems to strike at all age groups as I am 74 but normally very active, overactive if anything.

I have never felt so ill as for as long back as I can remember.

I am hoping that I just have a viral infection as the thought of this horrible illness hanging around for weeks on end is a nightmare.

Good luck everyone, I hope you all make a good recovery.

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Maris Piper said on 31 May 2013

After suffering for 10 weeks baffled at what was making me so ill and being told it was very unlikely to be WC following a blood test, I had a call from my GP yesterday saying that as a result of the blood test she had been contacted by the Public Health Authority telling her that in fact my blood test showed 100% positive I had Whooping Cough!

I think the problem lies with many GPs never having experienced diagnosing Whooping Cough since the mass vaccinations took place and as it is a notifiable disease they are wary of diagnosing and reporting it and starting a massive panic! With the influx of immigrants from abroad in the thousands - if not millions - there must be so many children unvaccinated against all the illnesses that we had all but eradicated running around I think GPs should have a refresher course on diagnosing and treating things like Whooping Cough which is such a very distressing illness whether in children or, in my case, adults.

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Maris Piper said on 28 April 2013

From the comments on this site it would appear that WC is less severe in adults. If that's the case I must be extremely unlucky. I am awaiting blood test results to confirm WC later this week. Over the last six weeks I have had severe paroxysmal coughing which nothing relieves, my lungs feel full of congestion, I have no energy, am sweating profusely and this morning vomitting to boot. No antibiotics or a course of steroids have touched on helping the situation.
Only thing I can think of is that being 73 one can get it as severely as young children do. Would be interested to hear if anyone else my age has suffered like this with WC? Just feel I want to go to sleep and wake up one day with it gone. It is such a long drawn out frightening illness and I dont know where to turn for help.

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Maris Piper said on 08 April 2013

It would appear that in the last year the number of cases of adult Whooping Cough have multiplied dramatically and yet still GP's are missing this very distressing illness! Mine started about 4 weeks ago with a mild irritating cough and generally feeiing tired and washed out. Went to GP after about 10 days and given antibiotics which did absolutely nothing. After a week tried to get an appointment but not one available to see my doc for nearly a fortnight so was put down for triage call. When this GP called me I happened to say that my daughter had recently had a similar illness and worked in a local Children & Family Centre and I was wondering if she could have caught whooping cough from there and passed it on to me. At which point she said quite casually, "oh yes, there is actually quite an epidemic of WC going around!".
Try and make an apppointment at 8am to see me in surgery tomorrow. No luck with getting that appointment but got one for a different doc later in the day. Have now been for chest X-ray and blood tests and waiting for the results. Still in the paroxymal stage and whooping merrily with little signs of any improvement despite yet more antibiotics. Not funny getting this at the age of 73!

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chantellemnormam said on 19 March 2013

Hi I seem to have been slightly luckier than most on here. My symptoms started 3 weeks ago with a non productive cough but I felt terrible, my whole body ached and I had no energy and just wanted to sleep the whole time. I lost my appetite and basically could not eat anything. After 1 week I started coughing uncontrollably but with very little mucus coming up. The coughing sounded strange with a high pitched squealing hack, I had loss of breath and definitely felt that my oxygen levels were not as they should be. I used my Mums Ventolin inhaler that helped me cough up more. The mucus was a yellowish green. I decided to go to see my GP and after a 90 second consultation I was diagnosed with a chest infection and given a general antibiotic , needless to say they didn't work and my condition worsened. The mucus became thicker and a darker green and the cough was getting worse, good sleep became a distant memory. Yesterday I started to feel very sick and experienced pains in my right hand side of my chest as well as my lower abdomen and hips, I had had enough. My daughter called NHS direct after not being able to get an appt with the doctors and then subsequently called 999. The paramedics came and took me to A&E my Obs were not good and my oxygen levels were poor. I was given a chest xray and thankfully there were no clots and everything was clear. Whilst I was being examined by the consultant she listened to my symptoms that I had and I explained that it sounded like whooping cough. She instantly said that her diagnosis was suspected WC and stated that there has been a large increase of WC in adults, she said that our age group was vaccinated but now children are not vaccinated and this is causing the increase. She prescribed a strong antibiotic used for chest infections and pneumonia. 36 hours after taking the drugs I now feel better, more energy, a less hoarse voice and the sickness has stopped. Don't wait weeks, insist on good care....

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GL Jane said on 16 March 2013

I have suffered with nasty bouts of coughing for around 15 weeks now! Started with a hacking cough like no other I had experienced before, then felt run down with a cold which made me feel miserable. Went to my GP after 3 weeks and were given antibiotics which didn't work. Went back a week later and given more antibiotics. Blood tests were carried out but nothing conclusive other than a low white cell count. Saw the asthma nurse and lung capacity and asthma appear good although I had a bad coughing fit after doing different breathing techniques and vomited. Usually, I have one to two coughing fits a day which can result in vomiting. Afterwards I feel light headed and tired and my eyes are red from coughing. Sometimes the fear of choking makes me feel like I am going to have a panic attack. I also have blood in my nose. In between fits I can feel fine and don't cough. Getting very down and tearful after a fit and usually worse in the morning. I had a chest X-ray at around 4 weeks in and this was clear. Very fed up now as I usually exercise 5 times a week and haven't smoked for around 8 yrs and I'm 39. One doctor thinks it's whooping cough but nothing has been conclusive. It's been a rubbish winter and I just want my normal healthy life back. Feel like it will never end...

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Davy D said on 14 March 2013

I am 68 years old and have had all the symptoms of whooping cough for about 5 weeks, including the dreadful uncontrollable coughing stage.

Yesterday, I rang my local surgery to report that I had whooping cough and the reaction was, "At your age it's unlikely to be whooping cough, what makes you think that it is?"

I explained all the symptoms and the reaction was, "There are lots of things with symptoms like that, we can't register you as having whooping cough without laboratory tests and they are not always conclusive. We can only record you as having a chest infection."

I was surprised at this statement from a doctor, and if this is the general reaction across the country, one can only assume that the whooping cough epidemic is much bigger than official records suggest.

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LittleJu said on 13 March 2013

I am in my 5th week of whooping cough, it started with a slight cold and cough and then the cough got quite violent and I could not stop. Started choking and then could not take in any breath also vomiting but not food just white frothy stuff. Violent cough starting to decrease but feeling very tired. One night the spasms just kept coming for 20 mins I could not seem to breath in. Never been so scared in all my life. Hopefully things are easing now. No one believes you when you tell them. Blood test has now confirmed it. 1st test got lost. Sleeping a little better now

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maggie D said on 20 December 2012

I have been coughing for 2 and a half months now. each coughing fit comes with severe rib,back and general allover torso pain, trouble breathing and catching my breath at some points my air ways have closed over and I have not been able to inhale for at least 30/40 seconds which believe me feels like a life time (very scary) also whilst coughing I dribble (cant b helped) I vomit on some occasions iam now bringing up phlem but only in the last few weeks. The fits can come on at anytime for no reason but generally cold air or cold drinks laughing talking. I was sleeping sitting up then started to try control my breathing by taking short intakes of breath. after couching it takes me a while to get my breath back. In all this time my chest has been clear I have had 2 courses of antibiotics and 2 x rays which were clear ive been taking painkillers left right and center couch bottles muscle relaxents for my back and nothing really helps. I am getting very down with this as iam really tired my back is extreamly uncomfortable just had my bloods checked so waiting on results but reading this site I know its wc. Because I have a autoimmune disorder everything gets attached to that "oh u just have a cold but because ur immune system is crap its taking longer to leave ur system" now I am possative I have wc. I hope it goes away soon don't knowhow much more of this couching I can take.

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dileston said on 18 December 2012

I have been suffering with the symptoms for 6 weeks now. I have had 2 lots of antibiotics and a course of steroids. I also have asthma and my inhalers have been changed to stronger ones. Nothing at all has eased my symptoms. At first i had 'dry wretching' with the coughing fits, then bile, but now I am vomiting. I have not had a full nights sleep and have to sit propped up in bed. I have also been to A & E for a chest x-ray which was clear. My GP was quite rude and asked me what I thought it was and sent me home to think about it. Yesterday I saw a 2nd GP who sent me for a spirometer test and a blood test. After reading this site I am convinced that I have Whooping cough and I feel better knowing that it is not just me! I now await the blood test results.

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jeffware87 said on 10 December 2012

I am not sure if I have Whooping Cough as I have not been formally diagnosed but I think it could be.

I jave had this cough since November 22. First week I had a bad cough that would be u productive but wasn't a big deal. By week 2 I had coughing fits so hard I would vomit. I wake up from sleeping and feel like I am breathing through a straw and get a lot of night sweats. I cant sleep for more than an hour at a time because of it, I can barely keep my eyes open. Doc thought it was bronchitis and was prescribed ventalin and flovent. These have done very little. Went to the hospital a few days ago and gave me prednisone and sent me on my way. This has also done very little. Went back to my gp on Friday and he gave me a Symbicort inhaler, which also did very little so far. Got so bad that I was back at the hospital yesterday and the doc there said virus is not as.likely if its not clearing by now and your current meds aren't working. He prescribed some antibiotics if the meds don't work by the morning.

My lungs feel so inflamed right now. Its hard to clear the phlehm without feeling like I'm damaging my lungs. I don't think its bronchitis as I've had it before and its usually controlled by now.

Thanks for your support. This is a great WC resource!

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MargMary said on 08 December 2012

I have had a cough for 10 weeks, similar to the one described by you all. I think I caught it from a friend who has had it since July!! She is still coughing after 2 lots of antibiotics.
The coughing and vomiting are exhausting, I feel worn out with it. I'm also worried I might pass it on to my grandchildren.
I feel relieved to know what is wrong, I was beginning to think I had something even worse wrong with me. The comments have helped and I will go back to my GP this week.

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maxim said on 06 December 2012

Really interesting reading about other people's adult experiences of whooping cough. I'm now on about week 9 and starting to come through the other side. I've been back to the Dr 5 -6 times as I couldn't understand why I kept being sick, was finding the cough so hard to deal with as I stopped breathing a couple of times and fainted twice. As I didn't have an infection, they said each time that I had a virus and sent me home. On the first occasion, I was coughing in bed, fainted and fell out of bed, damaging my hand, knee and giving myself whiplash. And the second time, I was heading to the bathroom to be sick, fainted as I came out of the bedroom and came crashing down onto the landing, and cracked my head against the door jamb, giving myself a black eye, damaging the other knee, my shoulder - again and my breast.

I didn't have a clue that 1) adults could get whopping cough 2) the problems associated with it from the coughing 3) that you can cause more damage by stopping breathing and fainting on top of feeling dreadful anyway.

I was given strong paracetemol/codeine for the whiplash and found it relaxed me so helped to control the cough, but I felt so drowsy, I found it hard to continue with it.

I've stopped fainting now and the cough is reducing. Just a few bouts a day and now sickness.

What a damn awful condition. I hope the rest of you get well soon. I sympathise in bucket loads.

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davina southgate said on 05 December 2012

I suffered this a few years back as did my teenage daughter and although fairly hard to buy nowadays, we used something called j collis browne.An old fashioned medicine used for the stomache and lungs....the reason it is hard to purchase is because it contains a very low amount of morphine but this is what helps to relax your muscles inside and is a great help at night as it reduces coughing a lot and allows for some sleep.Obviously this is not suitable for children and can i know still be purchased from boots and some of the smaller independent chemists. It was a common medication when i was young used for stomache upsetts and severe coughing....you just mix a little drop with a small amount of warm water and it works well.

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Springbok200 said on 04 December 2012

Dear Anne Y

I have just read your symptoms and I am on my 7th wk of WC confirmed with a blood test 3 weeks ago. I had a very non productive cough and was up 3 -4 times a night wretching and being sick with night sweats. Although I am not a doctor it sounds very similar, although I didn't have as many problems eating as you are experiencing. I didn't whoop and it was only after going back to the doctors on the third visit they suspected WC. The breathing through the nose and breathing slowly really helps regain control of your breathing. I ate loads of garlic, (natural antibiotic) which helped to shift the phlegm even though it made me cough a bit more for 24 hours I at least felt like I was expelling it. I am feeling a lot better now so it does ease and sleeping becomes easier. I hope you start to feel better soon. I can sympathise with you totally as WC is not pleasant. Good luck and get well soon. :)

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Anne Y said on 01 December 2012

LIke many of you I also wonder whether I am experiencing Whooping Cough though don't want to jump on the band wagon as it's now well and truly in the news. But I have similar symptoms to all of you, including the horrible aching waist/rib pain due to too much coughing. I went to the docs a week ago who prescribed antibiotics for 5 days for a generic chest infection but they didn't help. When I went back another doctors said he could prescribe another antibiotic but I didn't go with it as he he said it might not be a good combination with my antidepressants. So, like many of you all I am sitting it out and trying to lessen the discomfort by sleeping in a certain way such as on my front but find this difficult after a relatively short period of time. At the moment I am sitting with a hot water bottle on my sore waist muscle and trying to keep calm and breath through my nose when I feel the urge to cough. I have no appetitie and am existing on porridge and syrup which is all I can actually eat. I produce so little phlegm after a bout of severe coughing that I wonder how it will ever be expelled from my body.

I haven't heard anyone else mention this but I wake up from the short periods of sleep that I do get to terrible hot sweats where the sheets become very damp. Sometimes I feel so weary I can't even be bothered getting up to dry myself and get a new sheet! Not sure if this is a symptom of WC or not?

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jupiterandmoon said on 21 November 2012

Well, I'm a doctor and caught it from a patient coughing in my face. i'm lucky in that I had a paroxysm in front of my doctor, whoops vomits and all. i'm into my third week now, coughing and whooping bouts a provoked by talking, eating, drinking and yawning. The worst and most exhausting are the nights, trying to sleep sitting up but naturally sliding down and at least 4 times in the night waking with sudden coughing to the point of vomiting.i found it impossible to drive as a coughing bout whilst driving is very dangerous.

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JCS312 said on 21 November 2012

My 2 year old son started with a cough a week ago. When the cough started his voice was very hoarse for a few days to the point where it didn't even sound like him. It has progressively gotten worse (although no longer hoarse) over the last week and he is having coughing fits during the night aswell as the day, his last one lasted over 10 minutes. I can't hear a whooping noise. It is getting to the point where he is almost sick when he coughs. How long should you leave a child's cough before getting it checked out? He also has a runny nose but seems ok in himself. He is eating and drinking, just less than normal. Any ideas??

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mr jameson said on 15 November 2012

I have already left comments but i didnt have enough space for everything I wanted to say. With WC you can feel normal between the coughs and the attacks are sudden and unexpected. I was uncertain I had WC in the beginning whilst I was waiting the 2 weeks for the blood test results to come back, because I wasnt getting the high number of sudden coughing attacks I had read about (10-15 a day). In all the 10 weeks I only had about 5 really major attacks, 3 being at night. My husband said I sounded like I was having a heart attack. The rest of the time I was having mini ones. I think 1-3 whooping type coughing rallies can be the norm, even if they aren't such big ones. You get to tell when it is ok to clear your chest of the mucus. Basically don't start coughing up stuff if your voice is hoarse or has that tickly frog in your throat that seems to be very close to your voice box. That will set you whooping and cause damage that will take longer to heal. Remember you can limit the amount of coughing you do if you try you dont have to cough with every tickle.The mucus has a definite sour taste to it that seemed to be stronger as the illness subsided. At one point my larynx felt like I had inhaled some kind of industrial chemical and I was wondering if the toxins released in this illness are indeed acidic. The hoarseness is like when you have shouted at a loud disco all night. Weirdly, I think my throat has never felt actually painful or sore it has just been a matter of extreme sensitivity. Even now at 10 weeks I have to stop mid sentence because I know the next word will make me cough or it just wont come out without a whoop.

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mr jameson said on 14 November 2012

I started with dry tickly cough making me want to cough just talking and breating and slight runny nose and this developed into tight chesty cough esp in the mornings and it would make me want to be sick and my stomach muscles ache. The mucus is clear. I was diagnosed WC after blood test at 3 weeks. Impossible for GP diagnose til whoops start at 2 weeks unless there is a reason to be suspicious like someone else in family has WC. How do you manage it? For myself in first 3 weeks I found a little rum/brandy in milk was a great help but not between wks 3-10. Be aware that the sensitivity of your larynx and throat gets much worse by 4 weeks and what and how fasr you eat and drink will sett you coughing . Dont have fizzy drinks. The more you cough the more sensitise and damage your tissues and the longer you get locked into the WC. So with the big spasms try to breathe thro your nose and hold breath a little before you inhale again and start with the next cough. It will slow things down and have fewer coughs before u stop..The night ones are harder to control as they wake u choking from deep sleep and r more severe/damaging. I slept sitting up for 6 days and I healed my larynx enough to stop the night coughs. Keep soft dry bread and milk and water at your bedside to move mucus from trigger areas. I was getting thro 2 glasses a night. Try not to talk, rest rest rest and dont clear those "frogs" in sensitive areas or you'll whoop

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4wales said on 07 November 2012

I am 66 years old, I have just been confirmed by my GP as having Whooping Cough, I also have asthma and get bronchitis almost every winter. I started having problems toward the end of September. Diagnosed then with Asthma/bronchitis/chest infection, treated with Anti-biotics, much worse 2 weeks later, more anti-biotics and steroids, still bad, hardly sleeping, feel very weak, have lost over half a stone in weight, 10 weeks is a VERY long time when you feel ill.
Because of the late diagnosis I have probably infected others ? children ? babies ? I hope not.

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Gezza0204 said on 04 November 2012

I had been suffering all of the symptoms of whooping cough for the last 5 weeks. At first I started off with a dry tickly throat. Which developed in to coughing fits after about a week. The coughing fits were terrible, wretching at the end of coughing. Then eventually I could hear myself weasing. I went to the doctors twice but unfortunately sore a locum doctor and he did not know what he was talking about saying it was an allergy because i had no chest infection. i knew it was something more as the coughing was horrendous. Eventually I went to see my own doctor and straight away he said he thought I had whooping cough and arranged for me to have a blood test which will take 3 weeks to come back.

The coughing is not as bad as it was. However I am worried about the possibility of passing it on to my dad who is 82 years he has not symptoms at the moment but he does have asthma.

At times when I lay down to go to bed I did feel scared that I couldn't breath.

My doctor prescribed an inhaler with seretide and it it definitely working.

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juebb said on 28 October 2012

Im just going into my 4th week of this so called chest infection /astma but reading all ur comments its clear i have wc im had 2 lots of antibiotics and 2 lots of steroids using my inhalers all day n night and im no where near any better my dr actually asked me what did i think it was! !! My daughter has said for 2 weeks the high pitch noise i make when im having a coughing fit isnt normal followed by being really sick im almost passing out as i cough for so long without being able to take a breath. Its so bad at night i just wish id go to sleep and never wake up. I will be going back monday morning the tell the dr who is about 12 that you lovely people made more sence than the 2 qaulified drs did. So a big thanks. I feel i might get somewhere now x

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juebb said on 28 October 2012

Im just going into my 4th week of this so called chest infection /astma but reading all ur comments its clear i have wc im had 2 lots of antibiotics and 2 lots of steroids using my inhalers all day n night and im no where near any better my dr actually asked me what did i think it was! !! My daughter has said for 2 weeks the high pitch noise i make when im having a coughing fit isnt normal followed by being really sick im almost passing out as i cough for so long without being able to take a breath. Its so bad at night i just wish id go to sleep and never wake up. I will be going back monday morning the tell the dr who is about 12 that you lovely people made more sence than the 2 qaulified drs did. So a big thanks. I feel i might get somewhere now x

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Pistolpetes said on 17 October 2012

After seeing 2GP's and a Chest Consultant, being prescribed with Amoxicillin and Prednisilone Steriod (i suffer from Asthma) and 4 weeks of suffering I someone referred me to this website and realised I had most of the symptoms of WC so I called my Consultant and made him give me a second Blood Test to check for WC which he said he would totally surprised if I had it! Well guess what I tested positive. I'm appalled that none of the medical professionals would have questioned whether it could have been WC....I think that they think at 60 you came from an inoculated generation therefore you couldn't get it, however I'm now given to understand that the vaccine wears off over time! I now know that i caught from my daughter and her mother-in-law also caught it from her. How many people have we infected as a result of is failure to properly consider diagnosis. This is how an epidemic can occur! It's a shocking lingering illness. 4 weeks and still coughing my guts up, sleepless nights and for the last 3 weeks I've virtually lost my voice, possibly as a result of the coughing so I'm now of to see a Consultant ENT Specialist to get it checked out! What a nightmare! Why haven't the NHS brought this to the public's attention and instructed GP's to get Patients seen with such symptoms to have a Blood and Swab Test???

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rlmjam said on 17 October 2012

Fortunately some GP's are on the ball. My wife has had the symptoms for the last 2 weeks. She went to see the GP today who straight away diagnosed Whooping cough. She has had a number of chest infections over the last few years so it would have been understandable if he had diagnosed the same again.

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smeeta0984 said on 16 October 2012

last year i had whooping cough. i was 6 months pregnant at the time and the illness continued until a week before i gave birth. im sorry to say that the gp's were not very helpful in diagnosing the illness and WC seems to be ruled out as many GP's are under the assumption that once you have had the vaccination, you will be immune for life..... this is not the case.
My heart goes out to all of you suffering with this, it is nasty. it makes you feel sick, headache, intercostal muscles ache and i actually fractured a rib due to the coughing, it was agony. however, be sure that once your cough is becoming more "productive" it is a sign that the end is near.
Here are my tips for easing the 100 day cough:
1. Hot baths/ sauna
2.No milk products-increases mucus
3.Lemon,honey,hot water. Really eases the cough, especially before bed- i would add a capsule of paracetamol.
4.Saliva- try to clear the backlog of saliva by being sick a few times a day during coughing
5. Sleeping- try to sleep on your side, propped up on a pillow with your head facing at a 45 degree angle to the floor. it seemed to stop me coughing as frequent.

Once you have recovered from the cough please be aware if you get a cold/respiratory infection soon after, the symptoms of WC will present themselves again,but please do not worry, it will only last for the normal duration of the cold.

I hope that you all make a speedy recovery......God bless x

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SuzieLyn said on 08 October 2012

Been ill since beginning of August but symptoms put down to my emphysema. Ambulance trip to hospital end August, diagnosed with laringitis and given antibiotics. Continued to get worse, several doctors called out and gave me different medication and antibiotics. Eventually taken by ambulance to A&E and spent 12 days in hospital where was diagnosied with upper respiratory track infection and laringytis as I had no voice whatsover for 4 weeks.As I have a nebulizer at home I found that this helped a lot during nights when I would wake up choking. During hospital stay I had several blood tests and swab tests and none of them showed whooping cough I wonder whether the hospital even tested for it! On discharge from hospital my COPD nurse suggested sending in a sputum sample for testing. A week later my doctor phoned to tell me this test had shown that I have whooping cough. Now October and still suffering with the cough and vomiting, feel sick all the time and having to force myself to eat. Does anyone else with WC have this sickness feeling.

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Soreeyes said on 26 September 2012

My 20 year old had coughing bouts for about2 weeks and then she went to the doctors and was told her childhood asthma had returned after 8 years. The cough continued to get worse and she ran out of her inhaler so we went to the walk in centre. after another week her cough didn't improve and she had a pain in the left side of her chest so we went to A&E. They confirmed that she had a minor chest infection and had pulled a muscle in her chest.
He cough still didn't improve and one saturday night she was having a lot of trouble breathing in between coughing bouts so we went to A&E again and she was put on a nebuliser for a couple of hours. She went back to the doctors the following week to chech her medication and the doctor finally said she could possibly have whooping cough but the blood test would take 2 weeks to confirm this. My younger daughter, myself and my elderly mother are now infected along with all the people we have been in contact with in A&E and the walk in centre and 3 visits to the doctor, along with my work colleagues and my daughters school friends.
Why does it take so long to get a correct diagnosis ?

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Daytimetvviewer said on 12 September 2012

Just back from 30 second consultation at docs, diagnosed with laryngitis and pharyngitis, despite the symptoms for both being a sore throat and hoarse voice yet my main complaint is the coughing fits, which she didn't really focus on. It's almost like they decide what is wrong straight away without listening to what you have to say. It was only when I mentioned whooping cough that she decided to give me antibiotics, although no concern shown about contact with other people, children, babies etc. My symptoms do sound a lot more like the whooping cough symptoms, unable to sleep at night due to feeling throat closed, coughing for bouts of a minute or two and straining to breathe. Not really a whooping noise though. Guess time will tell if doctor is right or not.....

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rk22lh said on 10 September 2012

I had these classic symptons - dry cough in the throat for 10 days, moving into the chest.
Severe coughing bouts, hard to breathe, went to A and E twice!
Nightime worse, waking up 2, 3, 4 or5 times in the night, it gets better when sitting up (not great for sleeping) On one night, had 1 hour sleep.
Maybe a problem with asthma too - which IO sometimes get, so really severe cough and breathing problems.
Saw 2 x GP's and 2 x A and E Doctors!
Whooping cough - no mention, no blood test.....but seems these are just classic symptoms of it!!
Very annoyed - why is this not being picked up?

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RW1 said on 07 September 2012

Just been to see an ENT specialist who was sceptical to say the least about my possibilty of having WC. Been coughing now for 4 weeks and it finally seems to be getting better after 10 days of antibiotics and another 4 to go. Reading some of the comments really struck a nerve especially the one about being afraid to go asleep as I always have coughing fit at some point on waking. Two Gp's have so far diagnosed an upper respiratory tract infection and sinusitus for both which I was given the antibiotics. So I have had the correct treatment but as far as I can see the wrong diagnosis.

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Princesslazuli said on 05 September 2012

My 14 months old daughter has been diagnosed with WC she is now in the recovery phase after 7 weeks of coughing, wrenching and feeling unwell.
My daughter started with a dry cough which I treated with pain relief and lots of fluids. She then progressed into bouts of coughing with thick phlegm which she mostly swallowed due to her age we where unable to get her to spit it out and then vomiting and wrenching after the coughing bout. I used various branded medicines and she managed a few hours sleep. She is now on Antibiotics as the last few coughing bouts where more prolonged and included her upper lip turning blue and gasping for breath decided us that she needed a bit of help to shake the infection. She has been on 2 different antibiotics and thankfully is now back on the mend even if the baby monitor will be staying under her mattress for a while longer ( I like the reassurance at the minute) until we are confident she is completely well :0)
To any other parents who have a baby/ infant and you are worried about the cough please don't delay in getting a GP to look at your child.

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Greenygrassy said on 08 August 2012

ok. i was ill for most of june. a relative mentioned WC and I didn't take much notice. then i heard that there is a hefty increase in cases of WC so i checked on the symptoms and i think i probably did have WC. Because I definitely experienced 2 phases - the first a cold phase and the second with intense bouts of coughing - and i've never had coughing like it! i wasn't sick but on several occasions i ran to be sick as i was retching after bouts of coughing. but i didn't have a 'whoop' sound. and when i saw my GP she didn't find congestion in my chest - perhaps when i saw her this had eased off or is it worse at night? my symptoms were definitely worse at night. She thought I had had one virus and then got struck down by a second. she prescribed antibiotics but said to see how i was over the next 24 hours as seemed like all had eased off. however, what kept happening was whenever the symptoms eased up and I thought 'oh i am on the mend' after a day, they would return as bad as ever... happily, i took the antibiotics and am feeling much better (I still have a cough 1.5 months on). I now think I probably did have WC. I really wish I had explained about the retching as that may have alerted her... however, i just assumed it was because i was coughing and didn't realize this is a symptom of WC! I am a bit concerned though to hear of the increase in cases.... I have no idea who I may have inadvertently infected during the run up to, and duration of, June.... Had I known I would have been particularly careful especially since I visited my elderly parent just before the 2nd phase.....

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davet1 said on 08 August 2012

I have been suffering with WC syptoms now for nearly 7 weeks, i had the WC confirmed by a bloodtest after intially being diagnosed as having a chest infection on top of bad hay fever! I have had two lots of erytomycin anti bs and the coughing is less aggressive. However during the worst bouts i have torn rib muscles twice!! dislocated my ribs etc had bruising from this covering my right side torso. although i am 47 I am a martial artist and i feel like everyone has had their turn to kick me :lol! anyhow i still get days of bad coughing, lack of sleep etc, i have mild flushed feelings and general lethargy!! Its a really awful illness. My doctor apologised for not picking this up sooner & i have been contacted by herts medical health to discuss the WC outbreaks. My advice is push your doc, WC is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Greenygrassy said on 07 August 2012

I was ill for most of June. I was never diagnosed with WC - my GP diagnosed a 'chest infection' but all I can say is I've never had a cough like it before! I was choking so much I nearly vomited on several occasions. I had a first phase of illness at the start of the month - sort of flu-like. Then when this appeared to lift and I went back to work, the coughing to start *with a vengeance*. I do not believe that I had sleep for a number of nights which prompted my visit to the GP who prescribed anti-biotics. She thought I had had one virus and then caught another. The thing was, at this point, I did feel a bit better but then the whole cycle started up again so I took the antibiotics which seemed to do the trick - thankfully - although it is now August and I still have a cough. I had no idea about WC until my father mentioned it and then my brother-in-law (who works in a hospital) said they were getting quite a lot of WC cases. I mentioned my symptoms and he said this sounded like the sort of thing they were seeing.... I think it is unfortunate that probably cases are being missed as I had no idea there had been such a rise in cases until then. I was quite concerned as the point at which the coughing started I was with my 80+ father - I would hate for him to have caught it.... He doesn't seem to have done... I hope it stays that way....

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falkirkbairn said on 20 April 2012

My husband, my daughter and I have all had WC. My husband started with it aorund 10th December, I got it around 10 days later and my daughter ended up with it a week or so later.
At first we thought we had a really bad flu and told our parents to stay away from us as they are in their 70s and we really didn't want them catching it.
It dragged on and on, we had chest x-rays, anti-biotics, umpteen visits to GPs, also A+E during Xmas and New Year. My symptoms were very severe and I was terrified to go to bed at night because of waking up choking several times a night.
Finally at the end of Feb my GP agreed we'd most likely had WC and that is could take up to 3 months for the coughing to stop. Well we are heading towards the end of April and I am still coughing and my husband and I are still suffering with the thick mucus and coughing. Laughing, yawning etc can all set it off. Our voices are very husky and sometimes go all together, this is now 14 weeks later.
Most of the information given on NHS sites is concerned with children. My experience is that it can be very severe for adults and I would hate to have seen my mother suffering with what we have had this last few months.
My mother tells me today that it is in the papers that WC has been recorded more times in Scotland this year so far than the whole of 2011.
It is awful that the health service is not taking this seriously. One of the common names for WC is the Choking Cough and that was exactly the phrase I used when I went to the GP and A+E. No-one picked it up. I had no idea at the time what might be wrong and it was a friend who wondered if we might have WC that started me looking for info on it. When I did I was stunned. I could tick every box for symptoms and most of the complications too. I was only off work around the holiday period and then for another week or so. I hate to think how many people we may have infected because we were not diagnosed.

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Rehlein said on 19 April 2012

I was diagnosed with whooping cough after weeks. Have been about 5 times at the GP (different once) and once in A&E in Hospital. I told them I am pretty sure that I have the whooping cough because I had all the symptoms you can find on the NHS web site. Nobody believed me - I suffered so badly and could not sleep for weeks that I said I would not leave the hospital before I am checked on pertussis. They discharged me saying it is an ordinary Virus - they said they can´t do more for me and I would block the bed - so made me to go home. I stressed out that i can´t breathe in after each fit for minutes they suggested it might be anxiety. I was pregnant in the third trimester so I was sent from A&E to the delivery suit! to spent a day there and to spread the the infection?! More than a week later I was finally diagnosed! 20th Feb 2012 the symptoms had started - after about 5-6 weeks it improved but I still get the coughing fits 2month since it started and it is not improving any more. Was too late for treatment when diagnosed.
It is devastating and my baby will be born in June.
Will my baby be safe in the same hospital where they have been acting like this?

I think I should have rang the NHS helpline they might take it more serious and check the symptoms better than the GP. It might make a difference when you go with their advice to the GP.

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ellie73 said on 16 April 2012

I just wanted to see if anyone had any advice, I believe reading through this column that i have whooping cough. I ave felt unwell for a bout 2 weeks now and i have all the symptoms.
Now i am worried that when i go and see my doctor tomorrow he will not pick up on this, My doctor doesn't always seem to listen to me (sadly) i am atm feeling really ill on my settee. waiting for tomorrow to arrive.
Is there anything that i can say to my doctor to make him listen to me and diagnose me properly?
please help.
i feel inadequate whenever i go to see him. :O(

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TalfieB said on 06 April 2012

Gp's do not seem to want to admit that patients have whooping cough. They seem to expect complete classic symptoms, ie whooping and vomiting with a bout of coughing. Often, it seems, today, that symptoms are discounted if a patient has been immunised as a child. In four recent cases, I have found that doctors only consider whooping cough as a possibility after several weeks when a blood test is likely to give negative results. This also means many more people are infected than is necessary. Amongst doctors who know there seems great concern that a world wide epidemic may be on the way.
See website http://whoopingcough.net for further information.
Tom

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shannonkate said on 21 March 2012

my 13 year old daughter is now in her 3rd week off school and on her 3rd lot of antibiotics. she was rushed into hospital for breathing probs andhad x rays and blood tests,WC wasnt mentioned. my dr mentioned it when i demonstrated the whoop at the end of her coughing fit and she has just had a blood test for it. It is very scary seeing your child fight for breath yet i feel that we are left alone to cope. the nebulizer she had helped, but obviously havnt got one at home. reading comments it looks like recovery is a long job.waiting for me to get it now.

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Liz84 said on 05 March 2012

Dear NHS, I believe you missed a vital symptom for whooping cough which is that the coughing is often more severe at night. It was this symptom which eventually clued my doctors into the fact that my cough might be more than your run of the mill flu. Thank you for updating your pages if you feel this information is useful.

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magstar01 said on 10 December 2011

I believe i have whooping cough as i have these coughing bouts (about 15 a day) where i cough uncontrollably, dribble a lot (when coughing), retch and sometimes vomit, then nothing in between. The cough can just creep up on me, or if i laugh, or if i shout (which my children love the fact i can't raise my voice...!!).

I feel fine apart from the coughing.

When i went to see my doctor he said that the coughing is due to my asthma, although my chest is clear and i don't feel wheezie at all. He suggested i up my Seretide dosage and i will be fine. It is not getting any better (after a week). Should i go back?

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Kids: coughs, colds and ear infections

What to do when your child has a minor illness such as a cough, cold, sore throat or ear infection