Whooping cough 


Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis 

Pregnant women

All pregnant women are offered vaccination against whooping cough when they are 28-38 weeks pregnant.

Getting vaccinated while you’re pregnant could help to protect your baby from developing whooping cough in its first few weeks of life.

Read more about vaccination for pregnant women.

Does your child have a serious illness?

Symptoms to look out for if you're concerned your child may be seriously ill

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways.

The condition usually begins with a persistent dry and irritating cough that progresses to intense bouts of coughing. The gasping for breath after one of these coughing bouts causes a distinctive "whooping" noise, which is how the condition gets its name.

Other symptoms include a runny nose, raised temperature and vomiting after coughing.

The coughing can last for around three months (another name for whooping cough is the "hundred day cough").

Read more about the symptoms of whooping cough.

When to see your GP

See your GP as soon as possible if you think you or your child may have whooping cough.

Your GP can usually diagnose the condition by asking about your symptoms and listening to the cough (the whooping cough is very distinctive).

Whooping cough can also be confirmed with:

  • a blood test – to test for antibodies to Bordetella pertussis bacteria
  • a sample of mucus taken with a swab – to test for Bordetella pertussis bacteria

Whooping cough can be severe in young babies and, in some cases, they may need to be diagnosed and given immediate treatment in hospital.

What causes whooping cough?

Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis, which infects the lining of the airways, mainly the windpipe (trachea) and the two airways that branch off from it to the lungs (the bronchi).

If the bacteria make contact with your airways, this leads to:

  • a build-up of thick mucus – which causes the intense bouts of coughing as your body tries to expel it
  • swollen airways – which makes breathing more difficult and causing the "whoop" sound as you gasp for breath after coughing

People with whooping cough are infectious from six days after exposure to the bacteria to three weeks after the "whooping" cough begins.

The bacteria is passed from person to person by infected droplets in the air, spread by coughing and sneezing.

Treating whooping cough

If whooping cough is diagnosed during the first three weeks (21 days) of infection, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed. This is to prevent the infection being passed on to others.

It's important to take steps to avoid spreading the infection to others, particularly babies under six months of age.

Children with whooping cough should be kept away from school or nursery until either:

  • five days from the time they start taking antibiotics
  • they have had three weeks of intense coughing

The same advice applies to adults returning to work.

As a precaution, household members of someone with whooping cough may also be given antibiotics and a booster shot of the vaccine.

Antibiotics won't usually be prescribed if whooping cough is diagnosed in the later stages of infection (two to three weeks after the onset of symptoms). By this time, you will no longer be infectious. It's also very unlikely that antibiotics will improve your symptoms at this stage.

Your GP will be able to advise you about how to manage the infection at home using some simple self-care measures, such as resting and drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Read more about treating whooping cough.

Babies under a year old are likely to be admitted to hospital as they are most at risk of severe complications, such as serious breathing difficulties.

They will be treated in isolation to prevent the infection spreading and will be given antibiotics into a vein through a drip (intravenously).

Read more about the complications of whooping cough.

Whooping cough vaccination

In the UK, all pregnant women are offered vaccination against whooping cough when they are 28-38 weeks pregnant. Getting vaccinated while you’re pregnant could help to protect your baby from developing whooping cough in its first few weeks of life.

Read more about the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy.

Children are vaccinated against whooping cough with the 5-in-1 vaccine at two, three and four months of age, and again with the 4-in-1 pre-school booster before starting school at the age of about three years and four months.

Read more about preventing whooping cough.

Although the number of cases of whooping cough has fallen dramatically since vaccination began, it is still possible for children to get the infection, so having the vaccination is vital.

The more people are vaccinated against whooping cough, the less chance of passing on the infection to a young baby, which could cause serious, and possibly fatal, complications.

The effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccination may fade over time, meaning it's possible to develop the condition during adulthood, even if you were vaccinated as a child.

Who is affected?

Due to the success of the NHS vaccination scheme, whooping cough is now uncommon in young children.

Most cases occur in adults whose immunity has faded. In these cases symptoms tend to be less serious, although the persistent cough can be frustrating and unpleasant.

Whooping cough is a cyclical disease with the number of cases thought to peak every three to four years. An outbreak of whooping cough in 2012 meant 9,711 cases were confirmed in England and Wales compared to 4,835 confirmed cases in 2013.

The overall increase in the number of cases of whooping cough is thought to be related to heightened awareness of the disease and more cases being reported.

Page last reviewed: 01/07/2014

Next review due: 01/07/2016


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The 87 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Cougher said on 19 October 2014

I am 60 and started a dry irritating cough which took the voice out. The coughing got worse and quite distressing.

The GP I saw at my surgery said it was a viral infection and just take paracetamol and fluids.

A week later the cough was dreadful so bad I could only sleep sitting up downstairs.

The doctor then gave me a standard antibiotic (amoxicillin) as a precaution about a subsequent chest infection. This did not do much.

A week later I saw another GP in the practice who saw the cough and said whooping cough, sent me for a blood test which showed the pertussis anti bodies.

This time I got another antibiotic and straight away there was some improvement.

For a start the throat seemed a lot better and the voice came back.
The cough is lessening. The frequency of the violent cough is falling but no less violent. Eating and temperature changes seems to kick it off.

The GP who came up with the diagnosis had seen whooping cough before so recognised it but speaking to doctors and I know many have never seen it at all in their careers.
We are so good at vaccinating that the low frequency of these diseases means some doctors will go through their careers never having seen whooping cough measles and many other diseases. So when they do crop up, diagnosis will be delayed with possibly serious consequences.

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NCAM said on 26 July 2014

So glad to read other peoples comments. I'm positive I have whooping cough but have been diagnosed with different things. Lastly a viral (not bacterial) chest infection. I have listened to people with whooping cough actually coughing and my cough is identical. Started four weeks ago with a general cough and feeling rubbish. Got a course of antibiotics. Slight improvement but then got worse til I am coughing and gasping for air and making that whooping noise. I was terrified when it first happened. The cough now happens less often but now but more severe when I coughnow I gasp for air then throw up. I am exhausted and frustrated that Im now on a course of steroids after a second set of antibiotics did nothing plus I was prescribed an inhaler which seemed to make me cough more. These are going to be useless. I also have to go for a chest xray. Another waste of time. If I could only get it confirmed as whooping cough I could just tolerate (just) these horrendous symptoms. Good luck to all of you suffering this terrible illness

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lynnbin said on 17 July 2014

I received a letter yesterday stating i have Whooping Cough. Thank god i now know it wasn't a virus that 4 Dr's kept saying. The Dr. Who sent me for blood tests in the 1stplace should've told me to stay off work until the results came back. I work as a checkout operator in a very large supermarket and have coughed what seems like all of this year.
I was told two weeks ago that the bloods came back clear but the letter states otherwise. In fact the surgery haven't been informed as of yet.
Has anyone suffered with pain in the chest whilst coughing? I have to either bend over or press onto my chest whilst coughing to protect from pain. Dr. Told me i have town muscle through coughing. My cough is a lot milder now although i still cough a lot. I had plurecy in 2010 so maybe have a weakness and prone to chest problems.
I hope you are all on the mend and able to have a full nights sleep

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healthy1973 said on 15 July 2014

(day 25 of the cough) and I have successfully managed my whooping cough by taking high doses of Vitamin C. This has worked to reduce my symptoms down to a cough a few times a day - with overall less mucus being formed than before. I would read the research link I have posted below and trial it for a couple of days. The effects are almost immediate (within 24hours you should notice the difference) . I have taken a much lower dose than suggested in the research (I take 1,500 mgs a day)- but I also have a very healthy plant based diet - which gives me lots of nutrients. I would advise against alcohol, sugar and dairy products also. To be honest - despite the cough I feel very healthy!

The research is here: http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2012/09/07/vitamin-c-for-whooping-cough-updated-edition-suzanne-humphries-md/

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PLM123 said on 14 July 2014

Firstly I sympathise with anyone having whooping cough. I started coughing at the end of August 2013. Thought it was just a routine cough but had to stay off work as I could not speak without it triggering a severe coughing fit. I went to the doctors and saw a locum who straight away said she thought it was WC. She gave me prescription for antibiotics and said to stay away from work for five days. She also said the antibiotics would not do me any good but would stop me spreading it to others. She also sent me for blood tests. I had the bloods done and was told it would take a couple of week s for the results The coughing fits got worse, I could not sleep, I would have severe episodes where I was gasping for breath which was very frightening for me and for my children to see. I went back to work, (think I should have stayed off longer because even though I felt no actual illness, the severe coughing absolutely wore me out) I went back to the doctor who then prescribed codeine linctus which did help. My test results came back positive and I did enquire as to whether I could be vaccinated. I was then told that as I have had WC my immunity would now cover me. My coughing lasted well over the 100 days and anyone with this horrible illness has my full sympathies

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valeriamammamia said on 17 June 2014

I am now into my 8th week of what I strongly suspect is whooping cough. I was initially diagnosed with asthma and have been prescribed 3 antibiotics, inhalers and a week's course of prednisolone - none of which had any effect on the coughing/sleepless nights and general malaise. I suppose I am luckier than most in that it was my gp who suspected WC after other treatments were ineffective, and he ordered a blood test a week ago. I am awaiting the results with bated breath! The coughing fits, especially during the night, have tailed off now though I am still coughing a hard dry cough. I am fed up and worn out since this started and I think the effects of WC are very understated. Too late for any treatment but a positive diagnosis would put my mind at rest. I have found everyone's comments on this site very useful and reassuring. Hope you are all rid of it soon!

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Rodley7 said on 09 June 2014

Share your views and experiences with others. If you want a response from an NHS professional or the website team, please use the contact us link below.
These comments are really reassuring as they basically say how bad this disease is for us older ones!
I'm 58 and my first symptoms were on April 17th 2014.
I'm now in my 7th week. I've gone through all the usual stages and about 3 weeks ago lost my voice really badly was diagnosed with Laryngitis on top of it all and I now gargle with soluble paracetemol which does seem to help. My voice has pretty much returned but this last fews days I've felt grotty/ill and the coughing seems to have returned on a more regular basis although sleeping at night seems to be my best(least cough time).
I keep thinking I must have something much more serious as I am still ill so these comments do help!

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SLKIRK said on 14 May 2014

Just to say blood test came back positive I do indeed have whooping cough. I am now 11 weeks into it and the mucus has dried up a lot but still getting lumps of it being coughed up after every coughing fit. These fits are lessening and not nearly as frightening now but still unable to get more than a couple of hours sleep at a time. Have been put on more antibiotics to clear out any other lung infections I might have on top. The doctors are now falling over themselves to phone me and check how I am. When before I demanded the whooping cough they just keep sending me away saying it was just sinusitis.
You can't measure getting better in days it's so slowly that you have go week by week. Fingers crossed I am near the end all I want is a full night's sleep and to stop vomiting every time I cough. Again all the best to anyone that has this.

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Debsxx said on 10 May 2014

If you think you have it after reading this site info, take a video of your self coughing & insist on a blood test! After numerous visits to my gp & A&E . loads of antibiotics / inhalers / steroids I was fianlly sent for a blood test after showing the video of myself in the middle of a coughing fit & my test is positive for whooping cough it took 5 weeks before I was diagnosed. I dont have a whoop noise when I cough but it is very high pitched & it is very distressing as I can not breath & I gasp for air & can not speak for some time after. I usually retch & wet myself if I am not near a loo. It is like no other cough & I kept getting told it was a virus. So do take a video & show it to your gp. Public health wrote to me, called my Gp & phoned my work. They said it is more common now than we realise. Most people think they have a persistant cough! My partner & son both have it also but a lot milder so it is different for everyone & the symptoms are different for an adult than a child so GP's are not picking this up. I was given codeine linctus to surpress the cough, it works very well. I have a fever still so I take paracetamol for that. I hope this does not go on for much longer as it is very distressing.

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SLKIRK said on 22 April 2014

am 4 weeks into what I am certain is WC and at last getting a blood test to confirm but will take at least 3 weeks to get results. Will come back with the results I just wanted to post a link to a very good website by a retired Doctor. It is worth a read and even has a print out to take to your doctor and to video or record a coughing fit to take and show your GP.


It explains soooo much and very insightful also has clips for you to hear what WC sounds like and looks like to compare.

All I can say is it is not just a cough should not be called that it is more of a fit and it feels like your going to die because you cant get your breath. It is not frustrating and unpleasant it is scary as hell when you have it in full. There is so much mucus and the cough makes you expel all your air and cant breath in till you stop coughing, but cant stop coughing till you get air in your lungs to clear the mucus and on it goes.

Never say its just a cough!

The only up side is that once this is over I will then have antibodies for the next time so wont be so bad. But have read that getting even a small cold afterwards can bring back the symptoms not the WC. This seems to be happening to a few people here.

To all that have had this or think they may I wish you all the best and get them to do a blood test to be sure

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JayGTee said on 10 March 2014

I was diagnosed at the tender age of 53 with WC, it took 3 visits to the GP before he took bloods and gave out antibiotics, again - really surprised seeing WC at "my age". The HPA data says otherwise ...


That was 100 days ago and I still get the coughing fits, but much reduced, the first 30 days were the nightmare that many have previously described. Good luck to all those who are suffering.

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SLH99 said on 28 February 2014

Have all the symptoms listed above for the last three weeks, when to my GP today to be told adults can't get WC it only affects children. Made to feel foolish, they should read this site

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MDRU said on 29 December 2013

My husband contracted Whooping cough 6 weeks ago. After 3 weeks of severe coughing and numerous over the counter cough remedies, steaming with Vick and paracetamol and ibuprofen, home made lemon and honey mixtures we accessed our local out of hours GP service (on a Saturday) and were very lucky to be seen by a GP who diagnosed Whooping Cough very quickly after checking his chest and finding there was no chest infection. I was worried as he is a man who rarely gets a cough and if he does it lasts only a few days. He took the 7 day course of antibiotics to protect everyone around him and we isolated ourselves from family and friends to avoid people risking infection just before Christmas.The nasty coughing spasms have abated somewhat and he is able to sleep reasonably most nights now but the spasms he had in the beginning were very bad. He is still coughing quite a lot and complaining now of tightness in his chest but not all the time and aches and pains in most parts of his body. It is worse if he tries to converse with people for long and coming in from the cold. His appetite has been affected quite a lot and his sense of taste etc. He starts the day with ideas of what he will do but the energy level drops quickly. He is nodding off to sleep much more than usual when he sits down. He is almost 69 years old and most people cannot believe this can happen to people of our age but the GP said it is older folk who are getting the infection as we weren't vaccinated as it only came in in the 1970s.
I have found all the comments people submit very useful and it helps to read that the symptoms the patient is showing are being experienced by others with the infection. I am afraid it is going to be a few weeks yet before my husband is his old self but when you know what to expect you don't worry so much. Good luck to anyone who gets this awful infection.

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emilyplay said on 10 October 2013

I started whooping cough on 4th June 2013. Didn't get blood test til 27th June as my the GP I saw did not pick up on it when I explained that I couldn't help these awful fits of coughing with a whooping intake of breath between splutters! Anyway, the result took forever to come back as it was sent to public health, England and my 100th day was on 11th September. The cough was easing and fits were less frequent. However, 5 days ago I started some virus- sore throat & achy glands in my neck, and the cough seems to be reignited; is this generally the pattern or should I be contacting my not very alert GP surgery?

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LSDorset said on 04 October 2013

My daughter and husband both got whooping cough in July 2013 and it took 6 weeks to get a confirmed diagnosis from a blood test, by which time my mother in law and I caught it and we have all been poorly. But its been a battle to get the test done as it wasn't recognized as being whooping cough, it was only because I researched the symptoms on here that we went back to say it was whooping cough and on our 3rd visit the doctor agreed to do the test, which came back as positive. My husband had to have an ambulance twice because he stopped breathing whilst coughing, the A & E department sent him away saying he did not have whooping cough and to calm his cough down and stop panicking. Now if you have ever had whooping you will know it does make you panic when you cough so much you cannot take breath. Its amazing how an A&E doctor can tell without a test what you have!!!
Thankfully my husband and daughter are slowly improving at week 12 of the cough, but I am at week 6 and in the thick of it and its horrid! The thick phlegm produced is retching, the coughing embarrassing and I am totally exhausted. Constantly sucking cough sweets, drinking iced water and sleeping with the duvet over my nose and mouth to create warm air at night helps but as there is no treatment we just have to ride it out. Good luck to everyone else who has this and persist with getting the test so that the Health Agency have true figures.

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meganoscar1 said on 01 October 2013

Dear Binny99 firstly I want to say how sorry I am to hear both your husband and you have caught this dreadful disease. As you will see from my regular posts I am now almost 12 months on from original WC infection and the good news is on Saturday at my G.P Flu clinic I will be given Whooping Cough vaccine as unlikely I had it as a child, also to be given Flu and Pneumonia due to asthma that has reactivated from childhood following WC. It is now likely that I have developed ABPA which is an allergic asthma response to aspergillus mold spores that have colonised my sinuses and airways from my immune system being impared with WC. So please avoid raking fallen leaves, handling compost while you are both unwell with WC as massive amounts of spores are dispersed in the air.
Hope you both make a good recovery in time to enjoy Christmas. Take care

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binny999 said on 27 September 2013

I am 52 and my husband is 53. We both have Whooping Cough. Mine was diagnosed almost 2 weeks ago, my husband's a couple of weeks before that. Foolishly, I thought this disease only happened in children, but it can happen to anyone, anytime. I have been off work for 3 weeks now and reading some of your comments below, I realise both my husband and I are suffering similar things to all of you. Needing to be propped up in bed, not getting much sleep, itching in the abdomen that starts off the coughing fits and having no control over them or the gasping for breath, sometimes with tears rolling down the face - it is terribly unpleasant. I think the word "cough" trivialises the condition in people's minds, but once you have had "experience" you realise just how vile and horrible it is. The gasping for breath is frightening and there is a feeling you will never be well again. I cannot talk for long or eat much before the cough is brought on. My question is; does anyone know if a person can be vaccinated after having had Whooping Cough (once it is out of their system)? If the answer is "yes" you can be - I will be asking for it for me and my husband - but does anyone know?

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meganoscar1 said on 08 August 2013

A further update 10 months after original WC infection. At the end of April I suffered a huge asthma attack at G.P's surgery which they were unable to get under control, into resus on blues & twos and adrenalin administered, in hospital for 3 days. The doctors discovered I had bronchitis straight after WC and of course with asthma and allergy this triple whammy knocked me for six. I have never had totally clear sinuses since catching WC last Autumn but did manage to clear the thick, clear glue like mucus I was coughing up with antibiotics for the bronchitis. However my breathing and asthma since have been very unstable and am now looked after by Lung team who are investigating whether I have aspergillus (mold spores that you can be allergic to when immune system compromised) What I found has given me some relief is to use a proper sinus rinse twice or three times a day as this clears out the gunk and helps reduce inflammation in your nose, but there is no cure for WC and as I have found to my cost it can have long term consequences. My best wishes to all fellow sufferers

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kat66 said on 05 July 2013

In reply to Caromason 29 June 2013, I sympathise with you entirely.

My illness has followed avery similar path. Symptoms started late March / early April. Coughed for 6 weeks alongside vomiting and urinary incontinence. Under pressure from family eventually went to GP and diagnosed with Pertussis on 9th April 2013. My GP was brilliant and recognised my symptoms immediately. Given Clarithromycin to protect the public, but warned that it would not help my cough. Continued to cough and feeling very tired due to lack of sleep but continued to go to work.

Started to improve mid June, but following a trip to Ireland for one week the cough came back worse than ever.

GP suggested Bronchitis and started on a course of Amoxicillin last week. Continued to cough lots of clear sticky mucus, feeling throat closing over, tight in chest and extreme breathlessness. GP unable to offer any solution. Known as the 100-day cough so should be improving soon.

This afternoon is the first time I have felt slightly better.

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Caromason said on 29 June 2013

I am desperate! I had classic symptoms and treatment for whooping cough In March 2013. I had six to seven weeks of coughing and then a brief but very welcome hiatus. It is now back as bad as before only now I am vomiting food back as well during a bad attack. I feel like my throat is closing over and I bring up copious amounts of sticky clear mucus! I wretch and go bright red in the face. Anything can set it off but food is The worse. Its embarrassing and I have just had surgery to remove my gall bladder so its very uncomfortable . My GP doesn't really understand. I am desperate to hear from anybody who may also be suffering.

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jeffware87 said on 08 June 2013

Just an update from an earlier post:

I was on the mend and getting better, but the cough lingers whether you want it to or not. I was back at work on March 7, 2013 after coming down with it on November 22, 2012. The first month or two was largely uneventful, but since then a person came into work with a bad, wet cough. I have since caught it and I've been coughing for over a week and a half and had a cold for two weeks and now and it's still getting progressively worse. My cough sometimes goes into fits but very very rarely (maybe twice a day) but I am coughing quite frequently. It's not WC this time around (it doesn't occur that frequently) but its still stubborn !

I am taking Advair and a steroid nasal decongestant which isn't doing much. I will ask the doc about antibiotics on Tuesday.

Hopefully you all are better able to shake the after effects than myself. Anyone out there dealing with an illness a few months after you recovered from WC and feel the same?

- Jeff

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tinkerbellrose said on 25 May 2013

My daughter is 11, she was diagnosed with bronchitus for 3 weeks beg of march, and then told she was having problems with her asthma, during this time she was coughing badly and throwing up, she was very unwell and at times couldn't breathe. she was seen at the doctors twice a week and i felt like a paraniod mum but i knew something wasn't right. she was too poorly to go to school and had 5 weeks off due to coughing fits in the night and exhaustion.
at 8 weeks into the symptoms we saw consultant who suspected whooping cough unfortunately nothing could be done, althought they did take blood test that took 2 weeks to confirm.
we are now at week 12 she has hardly been to school, she still having coughing bouts altho the sickness has stopped, night times are hard she still doesnt get much sleep and looks very tired in the morning and coughing always starts as she wakes. During this time she has had 4 asthma attacks and yet asthma was poreviously controlled, she's been very poorly it has really frightened me, to know how to deal with her....i really think there should be more info on the latter stages of whooping cough as diagnosis is often done after the infectious time. Hopefully i will get my daughter back to school after this half term.

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meganoscar1 said on 21 April 2013

An update, I caught this back in Oct 2012 and was severely ill until January 2013. Then the cough changed and became a choking mucus type cough so I was treated with 3 different antibiotics for sinus infection with no joy. By March I gave up & paid to see private ENT surgron as 4 month wait on NHS. I have not got sinus infection but a type of rhinitis causing post nasal drip which is making me cough and wheeze until I have an asthmas attack (I have not had asthma since childhood) At first it was thought to be allergic rhinitis but allergy RAST blood test all negative, now I'm thinking it's vasomotor rhinitis where the blood vessels in my nose are inflammed producing mucus due to previous infection....yes you guessed it WC! I have had to have ambulance 3 times in night as unable to breathe with asthma & once in resus with huge IV cortosteroids to get breathing better. All the steroid nasal strapys, antihistamines etc etc don't seem to help at all so not sure what next? This 6 months of hell is all due to catching whooping cough as previously fit & healthy, I' am so hoping I will be better by the Summer as I'm utterly exhausted!

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LittleJu said on 11 April 2013

Hi, I am now in my 10th week of whooping cough, it has now eased off a lot, having said that I have just had a wretching coughing moment. These are now only occasionally and the struggling to breath in sessions are only a fraction of what they were. My longs are clear and my cough spasms seem to be caused by my throat. I will be totally fine and then out of the blue the gunge in my throat will set me off. At least I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Just wish I could sing again. I live in Nottinghamshire, I wonder how many more of us there is out here suffering.

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MidlandsB said on 20 March 2013

I started with flu like symptoms in mid Oct. I felt dreadful and these symptoms were replaced by a cough which got worse every day. It was a strange dry tickly cough but it generated mucus between the nose and the back of the throat, clear sparkly mucus that choked me as it dropped down, but nothing on your chest. I saw the doctor who told me to go home and steam my head, suck sweets and get on with it. It continued to get worse, the choking and whooping happening 10–20 times a day, uncontrollable and very frightening. I went back to the doctor and suggested WC but she said it was ridiculous, but gave me the correct antibiotic. I took these for a week, but the coughing still got worse everyday. I was unable to breathe for 3-4 mins at a time, sometimes collapsing, it was very frightening and worsened for about 14 days. Gradually the symptoms then reduced as slowly as they had increased, but I was unable to drive or leave the house, because it was too embarrassing but also I felt so ill. I went back to the doctor for a sick note on and she wrote ‘cough’. I tried to explain it was so much more than a cough, she didn’t agree. She did relent and send me for a blood test which takes 4wks to come back. It really does last for 100 days, the worst symptoms lasting for about 6 weeks. I found steaming my head with menthol, before bedtime and sleeping upright helped the worst coughing in the morning. Talking still irritates my throat and I live on cough sweets since Oct, the sweets with local anaesthetic help. Milky things like ice cream and hot milk drinks helped too. Traditional cough remedies, honey and lemon will only irritate and cough medicine is pretty useless. I’ve also had to have a lump removed from my throat last week, which the consultant thinks was caused by the coughing. As someone else said, you feel so drained you think you will never be healthy again and that your confidence can be really damaged. I really haven’t been well enough to work for 4 months.

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Mafj said on 02 March 2013

It looks there is a new strain of the bacteria.

I think my 20 months old has WC as well as me.
We won't go to the doctor (unless it gets worse) because we know how little they can do and how to deal with the problem.

My little one of course has had all 3 jabs against WC, anyway in the nursery he attends there have been confirmed cases. Now he has got these cough feats + sometimes with vomiting.

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ginnyw said on 20 February 2013

I'm glad I'm not alone in trying to deal with this vile thing. Have had a chronic painful cough since before Xmas but it has got worse, to the point where I see stars when I cough, want to retch all the time and have even put my back out coughing. Dr this morning reckoned I have whooping cough which really surprised me. Also got sinus face pain, runny nose and feel generally horrible.

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Mary A said on 20 February 2013

I was vaccinated for whooping cough as a baby, then caught it at age 9 (around the time the vaccination starts to wear off). Now, at the age of 41, I have it again. It came as quite a shock when the doctor broke the news - I had no idea you could catch it after being both vaccinated and catching it, but apparently even an immunity to WC due to having the disease fades over time.

I actually have a worse case now than I did as a child. I've coughed up blood, caught a secondary bacterial chest infection and I'm now on two types of antibiotics, and if I want to get any sleep at all, I have to dose myself with 30mg codeine tablets.

There really should be some kind of awareness program, telling people to get regular boosters, particularly if they have at tendency to get chest infections. I had pneumonia two years ago, and I've lived with asthma and annual cases of bronchitis most of my life - if I had had any idea the WC was a possibility, I'd have had a booster. And I'm not medically ignorant - I have a degree in microbiology and used to work in pharmaceutical research. The information just isn't getting out there.

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Lax runner said on 05 February 2013

I first went to the Drs on the 10/1/13 after a few days off with what I thought was flu, triaged and saw a nurse practitioner. At that point I was signed off with flu like symptoms. Back twice more, seeing a Dr the second time who immediately diagnosed WC and signing me off until the 8/2/13.
I thought the "flu" phase was bad, temperature, aching joints, loss of appetite and nights sweats. But that was nothing compared to coughing and little sleep for over two weeks. I am still waking most nights, get breathless if I talk more than briefly and I can go for a 15/20 minute shuffle down the road and then have to sit down, break out in sweat and have a nap.
The prospect of returning to computing for an hour each way and doing a days work seems beyond me. Although when I sit still doing next to nothing I feel a fraud and then get up move about and I am quickly reminded of my breathless limits.
Also I turned 50 the day of the WC diagnosis and had planned an April marathon and a July triathlon. These ambitions seem a long way off, 2014.
It's also interesting that so many people thing WC is a child only illness.
I have read up online and hope I'm not clutching at straws when I hope to be cough free and able to breath properly when moving slightly faster than a very slow walk.

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Kazzie162 said on 20 January 2013

Hi just been reading with interest the comments you are all making about WC. Does anyone know if you can have it twice? I had it 32 years ago at the age of 16 but am worried that I may have it again. I started with loss of voice 3 days ago which is still croaky now, and I have a sore throat . It's the coughing that is concerning me. I go from an odd little cough to clear my throat to a sudden fit of coughing where I can't stop it,take a breathe and find myself wretch ( although I haven't been sick yet) It may be too soon to be thinking of WC but my head hurts from coughing and my sleep is disturbed. Any thoughts any one? I wish you all a speedy recovery.

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jeffware87 said on 18 January 2013

Hello, I would like to give everyone a general update, and I think it would be helpful because you can see the changes in my symptoms since December.

So once again, I have had Whooping Cough since November 22. Finally about ten days ago the wheezing broke. I still have some chest congestion, tightness and irritation and my voice sounds weird due to the congestion but it is more of an annoyance now than a debilitation, but certain things irritate my lungs like cold water, cold air and my lungs are still very sensitive to laughing. I can keep it mostly under control but after laughing I have to cough.

My ribs are still in pain from the month of coughing spasms, but the spasms in which I cough until I can't breathe are gone. I have coughing fits where I will cough a few times in a row but I don't gasp for air.

For the last week I've also been able to sleep through the night entirely. I would be able to go back to work if I had paperwork, but I speak all day and it would irritate my lungs to do this as I can't speak for long periods without my lungs being irritated. I will be seeing a respirologist on Tuesday as a precaution.

At this point I am still taking Ventolin and Flovent but I am no longer on Prednisone, Atrovent or Symbicort, although I don't believe these have much effect.

Now that I am coming out of it, what has worked? Next to nothing! All I can say is stay hydrated to cough out any mucous buildup, take lots of Tylenol 3 or Advil for rib pain. Surprisingly the thing I found that worked best was a good, old fashioned hot water bottle, which helped relax my lungs and bronchi.

I feel like I've finally made a lot of progress but it almost felt like I would never even get this far. It takes so long and drains you to the point that you think you'll never be healthy again, but I'd just like to tell people who have it to hang in there and stay strong, as it can be just as damaging to your willpower and confidence as it is to your body.

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Am1802 said on 04 January 2013

In 36 wks pregnant and was getting treated for a chest infection for 3 wks with 3 different antibiotics which made no difference at all. When it started I felt like I'd been hut with a bus every part of me ached and I had flu type symptoms with an irritating cough an my chest felt really tight. After 3 different antibiotics I still don't feel any better and went back to my gp yesterday to be told its probably whooping cough I have because I'm wrenching when coughing. I don't understand how I got it because I had the whooping cough vaccine 3 wks before I took unwell. I've since heard of another person that has had the whooping cough vaccine and now has whooping cough like me. I'm now starting to wonder if the vaccine has given me the infection. And I'm also worried about my unborn baby and what effects this will have on him.

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Genie1000 said on 02 January 2013

Remedies that worked for me (victim since end of October, almost cured now)
Fishermen's Friend cough drops - the only ones that worked for me. They are strong.
Warm mist humidifier - kept by the bed at night and moved around the house as necessary
The only cough syryps that worked were either Nyquil at night or hydrocodone syrup prescibed by the physician (both are pretty powerful drugs and leave you feely dizzy the next morning, but at least I didn't cough) FYI - the codeine syrup (prescribed) did not work for me.
I did not find an over the counter cough medicine that worked. I spent a ton of money.
The Norwegian Healing Remedy that I took towards the end helps. I wish I had done this one sooner.
1 whole red onion chopped
4 - 6 cloves of garlic minced
Boil for 20 to 30 minutes
Strain for juice pressing solids
Add a shot of whiskey to the juice (optional)
Sea salt for better flavor and sip it like tea.
If you really like onions and garlic, sea salt and season the solids and eat those too.
I did this at night and felt better the next day.

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Genie1000 said on 02 January 2013

My update:
I had been sick with whooping cough since the end of the October (my first time at age 45). I had the coughing until last week - it really is the 100 day cough! It took two doctor's visits and my insistence on a test to confirm that I had it. It ruined my fall (literrally). I still have an occassionally cough now, but it was nightmarish to cough for almost three months. My appetite wained, I did not feel like doing much and felt like a totally different person. I feel for all you that are suffering - just remember it will pass. I am feeling back to normal. So Glad! Happy New Year! I will make sure I am up to date on that vaccine and flu shot from now on.

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jeffware87 said on 01 January 2013

Just updating everyone on my situation. I've been sick since November 22 and haven't had a formal diagnosis of WC (even though I asked for a blood test, the results haven't come back), but I am almost sure of it as the symptoms are consistent with myself, my sister and my mom. My mom is now sick with it and has had it for at least 3wks now, which is not normal for her which leads me to believe it's WC.

The uncontrollable coughing fits are gone and I don't vomit anymore. Previously when I woke up in the middle of the night and coughed my lungs/bronchi felt extremely itchy and it was very difficult to breathe properly without coughing insanely which would make things worse and worse. It was absolutely awful. That is gone now, but I am now wheezing quite a bit and ventalin, flovent, atrovent and symbicort aren't doing a whole lot and was later put on Prednisone. I went to the hospital on Dec 20th at recommendation of my doctor to see if they would admit me because the wheezing hasn't broken. They declined as my O2 levels were normal and recommended I see a respirologist, My wheezing and coughing became so bad that I spent most of Dec 24 (Christmas Eve!!) at the hospital receiving a Ventalin mask and Prednisone IV drip as the oral prednisone wasn't doing much.

I've been pretty stable since Dec 24 but I still dread going to bed and waking up wheezing and congested. The doc said that basically I'm no longer infected but have a complication of wheezing because the infection sent my bronchial tubes into hyper-sensitivity which could last another month.

It's been 6wks so far and all in all I would say at least small improvements that I'm not vomiting after coughing anymore, have very few coughing fits and I am able to bring up some mucus.

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mattyscough said on 19 December 2012

My son (age 12) has had a cough since early october. At first it was not too bad, he had 1 and 1/2 days off school then seemed better and carried on despite the cough. However it got worse and so we went to the doctors were it was first diagnosed as astma and inhaler prescribed but by the third visit and with a different doctor we were told it is whooping cough. Antibiotics were prescribed which seemed to help a little but probably too late due to the wrong diagnosis on the first two visits. I would strongly suggest that a definitive diagnostic test be developed so that dGPs can diagnose this as early as possible . We are now in a horrendus psoition of being awake til 3am or 4am with the coughing. It stops when he is so tired that he finally falls aslepp but then has to sleep well into the afternoon to recover, then we start all over again. There seems to be no effective treatment and he has missed 4 weeks of school.The NHS advice is virtually useless. I cannot understand why the vaccines have failed or why there is no effective treatment for this. Can anyone help ?

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Seeking said on 19 December 2012

A few of you commented that you've had the vaccine. I'm curious as to the rest of you. Have you all had the WC vaccine?

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betternow said on 16 December 2012

i feel sorry for anyone who gets this i`ve had 5 lots of antibiotics been off work for 2.5 months and i`m still coughing and have a runny nose. tiredness short of breath if you do to much and general feeling unwell
which comes over in bouts also sickness had swabs which failed and bloods which i`m still waiting resaults. i am starting to feel better but i`m still not 100% and i will have to go back to my gp next wekk again as i should be going back to work but i just feel to ill to do so plenty of fluids and rest helps and hot baths hope this helps :)

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meganoscar1 said on 15 December 2012

I caught this nasty disease 10 weeks ago and I am still coughing. It started with a sore throat, very runny nose and tickly cough. After 10 days the cough got much worse to the point of coughing until I could not breathe and was vomiting white foam. My G.P quickly diagnosed whooping cough and gave me antibiotics BUT only so I did not infect others there is no cure for whooping cough. After nearly 3 months I have been at the end of my tether with lack of sleep, extreme exhaustion, burst blood vessel in my eye from coughing. Sadly it is a long drawn out illness that you just have to endure and beware if you feel you've turned the corner and then catch a cold bam the cough is back! My thoughts go out to all fellow sufferers. Take care!

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Queenofhearts said on 12 December 2012

I am in week 5 of this hellish illness. Took me 4 visits to get a blood test and a swab - swab was clear but showed up positive in a blood test. I have had problems with chest and throat all my life and told each doctor I seen that I had never ever experienced a cough like this in my life - I honestly thought I would die coughing till I had no breath then my throat closing. The first few weeks I never had a distinctive whoop either and I think that is a common misconception - just a horrendous,persistent, hacking, choking cough till I couldn't breath. This week I have caught a cold from my son and the cough is worse than ever and I now have quite a distinctive whoop. I am exhausted as I wake several times a night from coughing and I would not wish this on my worst enemy. I feel like I am going to stop breathing as sometimes I can't get a breath. I have sore muscles in my back front and sides from all the coughing and wretching, feel sick a lot of the time and keep bolking several times a day - which is pretty embarrassing in public. Going back to doctor tomorrow - heres hoping they can give me something to relieve my symptoms. To anyone else with this horrible illness get well soon - I feel your pain!

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openmind said on 12 December 2012

Never mind the comments, the information in the article itself has 'not been checked and may not be accurate'. It states that 'in the first 10 months of the year, there were 1,614 reported cases in the UK'. In fact, 1,614 is the number of cases in October alone. The total figure for the year so far is 7,728 - see HPA press release, 30 Nov 2012: http://www.hpa.org.uk/NewsCentre/NationalPressReleases/2012PressReleases/121130Whoopingcoughcasescontinuetoincrease/.

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sophiems said on 11 December 2012

Our doctor was good in diagnosing whooping cough perhaps because there are apparently so many cases in Yorkshire. Given that my husand and I and our two adult children were all vaccinated when babies, I was amazed when the children tested positive and I am puzzled as to why booster vaccines are not routinely given, as for tetanus. There needs to be greater awareness of the symptoms in adults given that the illness starts in a low key way. I was fortunate that I was given antibiotics a day or so after the cough started which meant that I largely avoided the horror of it.

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bev666 said on 09 December 2012

My 18 year old son, who had been vaccinated against Whooping Cough as a child, first started coughing around Sept 8th and then I started two weeks later. After around three weeks I finally told my son to see a doctor. He was given a puffer which had no affect at all. Then my cough became really bad to the point of exhaustion, being sick and completely exhausted. My son was still coughing and attending college but was unable to do any physical sports. The doctor gave me antibiotics which did nothing and finally suggested i have a blood test for Whooping Cough. 6 weeks had passed by this point and two and half weeks later it came back positive and then they tested my son which was my suggestion and again positive. God knows how many people we’ve infected....sorry. My point is that Whooping Cough is not at all prejudice, young, old, fit, unfit, it makes little difference.At the moment, it has skipped by other children and my husband.

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sandrajacks said on 30 November 2012

Surely it must be emphasised somewhere prominent that very small babies do not whoop. GPs are misdiagnosing in small babies as they do not hear the whoop.

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Lornes said on 21 November 2012

Have just been diagnosed today with whooping cough -wasn't too surprised as I've had all the symptoms. Started feeling really tired, sore joints then got the cough. Don't think i've ever felt so unwell before. Had decent nights sleep last night-didn't wake up choking just coughing!! Surrounded myself with cushions so I slept sitting up, smeared myself with VIC vapour rub and inhaled the jar before I went to sleep. When I started coughing during the night I took some glycerine pastilles -really took the soreness and itch from my throat. Hope this helps someone else. Have also found that cough gets worse when I'm stressed. Doctor now put husband on antibiotics as he hasn't been feeling too great - been told just to keep an eye on the children-fingers crossed they are ok. Best wishes to all.

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Springbok200 said on 17 November 2012

I am in the forth week of whooping cough. It started with a sore throat and feeling unwell with coughing a lot at night.
I was having horrible coughing attacks with wretching and being sick. It wasn't nice and at times I felt quite alarmed. After 2 weeks I went to the doctors. He took my temperature and listened to my chest and both were fine. I explained my symptoms and his reply was, it could be asthma so I was given an inhaler.

4 days came and went and nothing had changed, the inhaler provided no relief. I went back and asked for a different doctor and he too checked my temperature and chest and again both were clear. I also told him about the wretching and sickness and he prescribed antibiotics and said if I was no better to come back and he would run some tests.

I took the antibiotics, but at the end of week I was still having all the same problems and was getting increasingly exhausted and waking up in a night sweat coughing. I did a little research on the web and after reading various descriptions and symptoms it sounded just like WC and presented the same problems I was experiencing. I went back to the doctor again and he said I think you have WC. I went for a blood test and I am waiting for the results.

The doc said it is known as the 100 day cough. I can't have this for 100 days so I have started eat differently & combat this on my own:

1) Eat loads of garlic, it is a natural antibiotic and antibacterial. I was so desparate to stop coughing i placed a raw garlic clove in my mouth for a few mins to infuse! Within 12 hrs I expelled more phlegm than I had in 3 weeks.
2) I had drunk hot honey and lemon but after 2 weeks it started to aggravate my throat. I have now switched to honey and put some fresh thyme (take it out before you drink it!)
3) Breathe through your nose if a coughing fit starts. It can stop that vicious circle.
4) Prop yourself up at night in bed.
5) Limit your dairy intake, it helps make more phlegm!

Hope it helps

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kirsten09 said on 31 October 2012

I was diagnosed with WC after several prescriptions of antibiotics from the doc to treat a chest infection. On the last visit I seen a locum doctor who right away said he thought I had WC. I have suffered symtopms since approx 1st September but can honestly say iv never had the windpipe closing ( scary). What I have had is one almighty cough that does leave me struggling to catch my breath. This happens day and night ( although it is getting better) the most concerning thing for me is the constant lower backache I have and lower abdomen pain when I sit down not to mention the hemorrhoids ( horrendous) doc said pulled muscles. Im not so sure. Any advice on the back and abdomen pain??

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em1978 said on 29 October 2012

I have been hearing on the news about that there has been an increase in new babies have been getting whooping cough. I asked about the vacination for myself at my midwife appointment w(wen I was 35 weeks pregnant)as suggested on the internet only to be told that there was some disagreement who gives the injection either the midwifes or the practice nurse. I was told someone would ring me about this. This didn't happen. I've rung a few times since then-no body really telling me anything or knowing much more. I saw my midwife at my 38 week appointment and asked again about this and she told me they have been told that they can not do the injection as they are not trained and I need to make an appointment with nurse for this. Now it is sounding like I won't be able to have the vaccination as I'm now 39 weeks pregnant and therefore it won't have time to work before the baby comes. Having heard on news that another new born babyhas died from whooping cough and the push for pregnant mums to have the vaccination I'm really worried about it all.

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purplejennie said on 27 October 2012

My 4 year old obviously has it. She had pre school last year. It obviously is no longer working.

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abuzzybee said on 25 October 2012

I went to see a nurse over 2 weeks ago, and she said it was likely I'd fought off glandular fever, but if my glands were still up in a week, I should go back and have blood tests. She wasn't worried about my cough, which had been getting progressively worse. I had to go back to uni, and the 5 GPs near to me are either busy until December (totally ridiculous!) or aren't taking new patients, so I was advised to go to A&E. I've decided to go back home so I can [hopefully] get to see a doctor. I'm certain it's whooping cough, but whether they believe it or not will be another matter! I have a younger sibling, who could end up very poorly should it transpire that I do indeed have whooping cough.

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Nieri said on 23 October 2012

Currently having blood tests for wc. Had cough for three weeks or so, gp was quick to suggest blood test as she has had several cases of adults coming in with similar symptoms and they were positive for w.c. Started off with cold like symptoms, progressing to uncontrollable coughing with the inability to breath, desperation to breath often causes vomiting. GP gave me codeine. This is a god send, within a day my coughing was under control and I could finally sleep! I understand codeine is an opiate so possibly may not be prescribed for an extended period of time but its worth investigating for a peaceful nights sleep once in a while. A cough bottle for when your throat feels tickly is advisable - helps you fight the urge to start coughing. Also dont fight to regain breath during a coughing fit. Count to 2 after the cough, taking small breaths through your nose before inhaling through your mouth. Helps fight the impulse to vomit and staves off another coughing attack. Vaporub and menthol oil help me sleep - made my breathing feel easier, dont have to sleep sitting up this way. I just use an extra pillow to keep my head elevated slightly higher than usual. Hope this helps someone cope, only had a cough this scary once before and thats when i had swine flu.

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Susan_G said on 23 October 2012

After nearly 6 months, I have finally been diagoned as having Whooping Cough.
It started in May with partial loss of voice that soon turned husky.
I have Asthma & am also a Type 1 Diabetic.
A persistant hacking cough quickly developed.
In June I was prescribed Amoxicillin, then Doxycycline & then Clarithromycin. None of which appeared to help.
Stabbing pains developed in my back & side& I couldn't move without screaming with pain.
I had developed pneumonia which in turn led to Pleurisy.
I was referred to a Chest clinic after several chest x-rays.Tthey didn't find anything out of the ordinary, but my symptoms were getting worse by the day.
I had a rattling in my chest, difficulty breathing, headaches,fever, loss of appetite,body aches & of course the cough.
Strangely I didn't really cough at night nor did I have a sore throat.
I too thought I was at death's door, I had never experienced such pain.
In August I was put on Codine for the pain as well as Cetirizine & Fluticasone.
In September I was prescribed Cefalexin, & in October I was put on the steroid Prednisolone along with Omeprazole to protect the stomach.
I had a CT scan of chest & sinus's.
My GP sent me to a Private hospital c/o NHS choices.
They checked my sinus's & they were found to be normal.
He then did a blood test which showed I had Whooping Cough. Apparently childhood vaccines wear off in adulthood.
I am still having coughing fits at least 20 times a day, but the pain has gone.
My extreme symptons could have been down to my Asthma & Diabetes. That too could be why it has lasted for 6 months to date.
I wish everyone with Whooping Cough a full (albeit slow) recovery.

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mark3952 said on 16 October 2012

Was diagnosed finally with whooping cough yesterday after a blood test on the 1st october . From the 14th sept i was at the doctors 4 times and hospital a and e 3 times ,all i kept getting was that it was a chest infection , and was on three courses of antibiotics which did not do much help.this is the worst thing i have ever had in my entire life ,at my worst i honestly thought i was going to die ,,the worse was at night when after an hour or more of sleep i would wake up in a coughing state but then start choking and unable to get my breath and then try my best to suck air into my lungs ,, this is scary and and it feels like i was going to die , i am now into my seventh week of wc ,,im still have coughing bouts and some nights still wake up again choking ,but not as bad when i first started getting ill .this is one terrible ilness and looking foreward to getting well again and back to a normal life .

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janiecough said on 08 October 2012

In mid September I had a short but bad cold. After a few days the paroxysmal coughing started and happened about 15 times per day. I visited my doctor who was prepared to listen, She gave me clarythromycin for 7 days. This did calm things down but after 3 weeks I am still coughing. Nighttime is worse and I sleep every other night. One useful tip is to take Vitamin C every day, at least 1000mg. Vit C repairs cells. I would also recommend Nettle tea, which helps to calm lungs (good for asthma too). I had these exact same symptoms last summer and was ill for 8 weeks. I also had mouth ulcers, which is usual for WC. I fixed internal ulcers with salt mouthwash and external one with Aloe Vera. I would recommend alternative (original medicine!) for help as drugs are not the answer. I hope this helps.

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MrsAH said on 05 October 2012

I'm coming into my third month of WC and starting to learn to live with it. Night times are much easier but I still have spells of coughing and vomiting especially during activity. Today I've been exhausted from the choking cough but know I just have to rest to ease it. Any sneezing or laughing and eating and drinking can still cause a severe coughing fit and gasping for breath.. Friends and colleagues are starting to lose sympathy as I've been unwell for so long and think I'm playing on it. Nobody will ever understand how horrible this disease is until they get it themselves. This site has been invaluable.

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AlisonGS said on 02 October 2012

I am 3 1/2 weeks into whooping cough, I have had steroids and two diff sorts of antibiotics as I am asthmatic I initially thought it was related to the asthma and had 5 days of Sterroids: prednisolone tablets, then amoxicillin for Chest infection and then after two weeks Erythromycin once diagnosed with WH, which just stopped me being infectious, didn't really help me. The only way I could sleep at nigh for the first 2 1/2 weeks as by sitting up; I slept on the couch downstairs, this turned out to be a good move as it seems my husband has not caught it.
I can only drink water, I love tea but is just doesn't sit well in my throat so I am drinking only water.

My saving grace is olbas oil on a tissue and on my pillow at night, it sooths your airways a little and def reduces the frequency of coughing fits. I have tried all sorts cough sweets which seem to make me cough more. I also used night nurse when I was at my worst which wasn't 100% but it did help me get some sleep. Also it helps to sit quiet, and you feel so wrecked you need to, but activity makes me cough more. My throat is so sensitive even a yawn can set me into a coughing fit and then the gag reflex also joins in.
there is very little information on how to cope with the symptoms of WC, I hope this helps a little and if anyone has found anything else useful please let us know.

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daisyscott said on 25 September 2012

I am waiting on blood tests for WC, I have been ill with all the classic WC symptoms for 4 weeks now. My doctor gave me 5 different antibiotics and 2 lots of steriods. I am not taking anything now but I am really struggling, my tracchia feels severely irritated all the time so want to cough but this causes a major coughing fit. I can't lie down at all and am exhausted, I think it is worse now I am off the steriods and wonder if i should go back to my doctor for more steriods as at least I could breath without coughing continuously. Has anyone else been given sterioids for WC?
Don’t know how I am going to get through this if it lasts 3 months, I am unable to go to work as I am coughing so much during day and night, much more than the 15 bouts estimated with this, I am trying all sorts of things to relieve symptoms but nothing works. How have others managed to work with this – I feel lethargic and exhausted, have a massive headache and can’t focus.

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TheBreathingMan said on 04 September 2012

Wooping Cough... It knocks the stuffing out of you!!! you cough and cough somethimes till your are sick, then when you try to breath in, nothing happens! your struggle for breath (thinking your going to die) gulping for air but your swallowing it rather than breathing it, frightening!!! Then you get tested and they say you don't have it, madness!

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Beth1471 said on 31 August 2012

I have had a really nasty cough since the 4 April. I have visited my doctor on numerous occasions. She was treating me for bronchial asthma, being an asthmatic its the easiest assumption to make. The antibiotics did nothing to clear the infection, then she changed my inhaler to a stronger one, that did nothing again. This went on and on and on. Stronger antibiotics, I had oral thrush as a result of the new antibiotics and steroids. My days and nights rolled into one. Coughing persistently through this time but the worst was at night. My whole body was so tender and painful. My throat was on fire for at least six weeks and I was eating tub after tub of ice cream and sucking ice cubes to try to ease it. I was then prescribed Montelukast to see if that would ease the breathing, no it did not. This is now going into my fourth month and each month I have asked to be referred to a chest specialist clinic but my doctor told me it may be the start of COPD as I am an ex smoker, last cigarette I had was 18 years ago. Two weeks ago she relented and said she had done everything she could and nothing was working. She would refer me, as she was writing out the referal letter she stopped dead and said, I think we will do a blood test for whooping cough but I will still refer you anyway. I am still waiting for the results of that test. I have to say going into my fifth month my cough is no better maybe the added complication of me being asthmatic has not helped the situation but I am not sleeping, coughing most nights. This cough is like nothing I have ever had before and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

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AnotherWhooper said on 18 August 2012

It came as a big surprise to me to find that I had WC at the age of 59. Along with just everyone else, I assumed that WC was a childhood illness, so when I had a mild snuffly throat infection that broke out into a classic whooping cough 10 days or so later, it couldn't have been WC, could it?! By the time I realised that it was, I was four weeks away from the start, had probably liberally infected others around me, and was probably too late for the antibiotics that the doctor prescribed to actually do any good. No swob was taken to confirm the illness, again because it was probably too late, so I only have symptoms to confirm illness. Now confirmed by the doctor, I am probably part of the growing statistic of WC sufferers this year, but with lack of general knowledge about WC and slow response from doctors to confirm a diagnosis, many more cases will not be included in the statisitcs. If there is an 'epidemic', shouldn't there be a public information campaign? I feel so guilty that I went into work during the infectious stage, but I didn't know that I could be a risk. I am now at home letting this awful illness take it's course. I have all the classic symptoms of coughing bouts leading to spasms when I cannot breathe, strained ribs and diaphram, gastric reflux and vomiting of gatric fluids, and total body exhaustion. Accepting that it is an illness that wont get better by trying to battle through it, and learning to recognise the triggers that set of the coughing bouts, then taking control by relaxing and swallowing carefully instead of coughing, and by steadily keeping breathing through my nose. This sometimes works. I have been signed off work for a fortnight, and hope to see some improvement by the end of that time. I also intend to ask work to put out an alert to the rest of the staff, so that people will be able to recognise the onset of this nasty illness, as I am sure that EARLY diagnosis and use of antibiotics will benefit everyone.

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BeAware said on 07 August 2012

Be aware, there is currently an epidemic of Whooping Cough (prob worldwide). Over 2400 UK cases were reported in the 1st 6mths of 2012 vs just over 1100 in all of 2011. There will be many unreported. 1000s of people will catch this an some will inevitably die I'm afraid. The HPA has raised this to a level 3 situation (on 1-5 scale).
Getting through it
These are my tips for those of you who now realise what you have contrcated.
You will likely be dreading bedtimes now and have a constant feeling that your life is in danger and will be short on sleep. Don't panic. Try the following, I hope it helps.
1. Take a small glass of milk to bed each night. Sip it before sleeping and each time you wake up. It soothes the throat walls and relieves the sticking/gummed up feeling
2. Take a slice of dry bread to bed. When you wake and feel a lump in your throat or have that scratchy feeling, eat a little bread to help move any mucus downward, then sip milk.
3. Learn to recognise the blocked airway attacks and not to panic. All you need to do is sit upright, resist trying to gasp in air for a couple of seconds, then try to swallow to "unstick" your airways/throat. Again sip milk to help do this. Trying to constantly gasp air in will make things worse so you must relax, take your time, swallow, breathe slow and you will regain control.
4. Rest rest rest for weeks. Try not to talk to anyone if possible and just rest up. For the 1st 2 weeks you are contagious to others. See you GP and get antibiotics to stop yourself infecting othes.
5. Eat only bland foods and preferbaly liquid foods like soups. The wounds in your throat need to heal and eating rough stuff like toast will scrape off the healing surface. Avoid salt it will irritate your throat.
6. If yourthroat keeps starting to get better but then keeps relapsing, try not eating any solids for 24-48hrs to let your wounds heal (fasting).
Good luck. Hope this helps some.

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marksgirl said on 06 August 2012

just like to ask ricarddc about his experience of windpipe closing at night and how disstressing that was . Like i said earlier i have experienced this on a few occassions and i found it very scary..Is this definatly connected to the whooping cough virus and how long did it last.

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Lexiloo said on 03 August 2012

I was diagnosed with WC 8 weeks after I began with symptoms - and after antibiotics - with a blood test. It took some persuading of the medical profession to make them believe it is what had. It is the most awful illness ever. Just like all the other comments here, it's the gasping for breath that is the worst. It takes about 100 days to get over, and I am now on day 80. There is nothing to cure it and nothing to relieve your symptoms. There is a great website that is full of information created by a Dr Jenkinson - www.whoopingcough.net Full of help too. I found out recently the reason there is no cure or treatment is because the bacteria damage the lining cells of the respiratory tract and these are replaced over time with new, healthy, cilia-bearing cells. I still cough when I laugh or yawn ... but the paroxysmal stage is over and I am well on the way to recovery. It is exhausting though!

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GeraldineC said on 01 August 2012

I visited the doctor a month ago and came with antibiotics for a chest infection. These have done nothing. I since visited my GP another 3 times and was in total given 4 differs lot of antibiotics to treat this so called chest infection. Today and for the last 3 weeks I have found myself with a cough which very much sounds like a whooping cough and includes violent vomiting. I suffer from an underlying condition whereby any untreated condition could lead to a relapse and thus leaving me further down on my chronic condition. I today contacted the people helping with this underlying condition and the advice given was very good. It is not right that the GP is just giving me out different set of antibiotics each week hoping to find what's wrong and therefore using me as some kind of dartboard. After much insistence on my part, he's finally referring for testing for potential whooping cough! I have been off work for 3 weeks with this. So hopefully the testing will reveal something so at least I stop thinking I'm going to stop breathing as soon as I cough. It is a very very unstable cough always coming out of nowhere which more times than not includes some form of vomiting. Hopefully the results of the test will show something. Good luck to anyone suffering with cough, I know they can't do much other than wait till it passes but it would be good to be taken seriously. In my case I feel the GP prefers to damage my liver by issuing me all sorts of antibiotics rather than spend money on doing the right test and then treating me accordingly.

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marksgirl said on 01 August 2012

I think i have whooping cough docs not sure but the most distressing part for me is the closed windpipe which occurs during the night and you have to relax to let it open again .is this usual with hooping cough its very scary

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shaaan1329 said on 30 July 2012

I have had a cough for about 2 and a half to three months now. I visited the doctor three times in the time period and they all told me that it was viral. I then went and visited my personal asthma nurse who told me that I had severe rhinitis topped with what is most likely whooping cough. he told me that whooping cough is going about a lot at the minute as they have discovered that the vaccine we are given as children is not effective all throughout life as they thought, it does in fact run out. The only time I was taken seriously was when I went to see a doctor and told them that I actually vomited violently because of my cough and am left gasping to get my breath back. I went for a blood test today so am waiting for my results. I have already been on a 12 day course of sterioids and a 10 day course of anti-biotics so I don't know what they will do or give me if it comes back positive.

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Kelly mc blyth said on 29 July 2012

I almost feel relief reading the comments on here.... I have been having coughing bouts for 4 weeks now, they can start from absolutely anything last around 2-5 minutes, I cannot breathe and make a 'whoop' sound and am almost always violently sick with every bout!

I have been to the doctors 3 times and all they do is listen to my chest tell me it's clear and it must be viral! Advice has been rest and steam inhalation, I have even asked the question 'could I have whooping cough?' they looked at me like I was stupid and made me feel like a hypochondriac! I even got a lecture about why a person coughs and advised to eat smaller portions so when I'm sick there won't be as much to come up!!

It concerns me that as long as there are GP's refusing to take this seriously the numbers will continue to rapidly rise. I work in a busy office and I have young children and socialise with other mothers with young babies etc, it really upsets me that I could have infected vulnerable children and adults. As a normally healthy 30 year old I have really struggled to fight this and it has physically and emotionally drained me!

Good luck to anyone else who has has similar symptoms I hope your GPs are more helpful than mine.

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Simon KyteTW said on 27 July 2012

ASJ79 - surely she can't catch it over and over again. she must surely be immune after one inflection with it?

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Simon KyteTW said on 27 July 2012

The NHS is now facing a massive outbreak of whooping cough. my cough has long since gone but when i yawn or laugh (even 7 months on) I still feel i am going to choke. still i don't laugh much ... yawning is a different matter....


and yet my doctor in T Wells told me it was 20 years since there had been a case of WCough in TW and that it was almost effectively extinct in the UK - what rubbish!

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9LG said on 25 July 2012

Right now I'm recovering from a bout of whooping cough. I suffered for about four weeks before taking any action, then my wife got scared by the recent TV campaign for lung cancer - advising anyone who has been coughing for more than two weeks to visit their GP - and packed me off down the surgery for a proper check-up. This was about three weeks back.

My GP did the normal visual checks for lung cancer and assured me there was nothing to worry about there. He booked me in for a blood test, and I got the results yesterday which confirmed whooping cough.

My GP's advice at the first consultation was: try to manage the coughing fits by resisting the natural urge to take a deep breath to refill my lungs after each cough. This deep inhalation was simply sparking off another cough, thus prolonging the coughing fit until I finally halted it by choking. By replacing the deep inhalation with a much gentler one, I was able to stall the coughing fit. This in turn was reducing the amount of damage I was doing to the surface of my throat as a consequence of all the constant hacking and choking.

It took some time for me to perfect the technique, but it seems to be working for me: I'm fighting the impulse to cough my way through the slightest throat-tickle, and I'm slowly getting better. It's been about seven or eight weeks now since I originally started coughing, and I'm at the stage now where I have a little cough maybe once or twice a day, but I'm done with all the violent whooping and choking.

In the interests of balance: I have no complaints about the service I got from my GP, or the advice given.

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JosieCt said on 28 June 2012

I have had symptoms similar to Richard. Started off with a dry cough for a few days, then productive with yellow mucus and then for the last 4 weeks I have been coughing up white thick or frothy mucus. I have regular coughing fits and after 2 weeks of having the cough, I started to have the coughing fits where my windpipe would seem to close and I was unable to breath for a minute. This happened during the day and night. I am no longer suffering the loss of breath but have regular coughing fits which make me red and my eyes stream with tears, I even urge or come close to vomiting. I constantly can feel mucus on my chest and regularly lose my voice. I have had a course of antibiotics and an inhaler but neither have helped. It was recently that I started wondering if I have whooping cough.

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richarddc said on 13 June 2012

I have had a cough for 8 weeks now. Started after cold/flu symptoms for a few days. Began as a very loud dry cough low down in my throat (sounded like a walrus!) And very frequent. Started off unproductive but then a few days coughing up yellow mucus (around the time I got 2ndary chest infection. Then mucus became throthy white, when cough not unproductiven. Given two different antibiotics, but no noticeable impact on trachea, though chest largely cleared. My cough changed about 4 weeks ago, becoming less frequent, but increasingly leading to difficulty breathing in afterwards. Sometimes my aware seemed to close for up to a minute. For last 3 wks I've had the whooping intake of breath with about half my coughing fits. No down to about 8-10 fits a day, plus those at night. Biggest problem is lack of sleep and damaged intercostal muscles on right side (very painful indeed on the two occasions they went into spasm - resulting in A&E trips and more pain killers). Asked GP for blood test last week and awaiting results. Other distressing feature that lasted a few weeks was waking in night with my windpipe closed and taking up to a minute or two to breath again. This had eased off now, but finding it harder to sleep at all though. Fingers crossed my recovery is beginning...

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alexandertabershaw said on 28 April 2012

What a pain this cough is! I was diagnosed with whooping cough last month after a chest X-ray and blood-test. I'd been suffering from (what I at first thought was a tickly cough) that came into prominence at night keeping me awake and generally causing me discomfort. This carried on for a week or so, and then developed into a cough where I had episodes of not being able to catch my breath afterwards. I was put onto a dose of antibiotics for a week. The cough now occurs 5 or 6 times a day, occasionally leaving me gagging and making strange noises as I inhale afterwards, but believe me its manageable! I've had it for almost 3 months now, and have grown almost acustomed to it, and strangely see it as normal.

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Simon KyteTW said on 10 April 2012

ASJ - yes they do all seem to say that.
But I would have thought that having it once would have given your mother many years of immunity? My immunoglobin count was crazy. I can't clear that cough though - it's the yawn that starts it off. Or a laugh. But in the office it is mainly the yawn. I would like to know if other people get rid of it more quickly or just how long it might actually drag on. 'Care' has been useless - an email every few weeks from Colindale where I just have to write yes or no as to whether I still have effects and no follow up by the looks of it. Terrible!

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phia said on 10 April 2012

after 7 weeks of suffering whooping cough, countless visits to the doctor 2 chest x rays a course of antibiotics I am my wits end. My doctor has given me atrovent inhaler plus phenergan to try to supress the cough but nothing really works. Mr cough is worse at night,at first I was coughing persistently for up to eight hours with only enough time inbetween to catch my breath,I also cough up stick white mucus.Now despite the inhaler and th phenergan I am still coughing up to four hours at night . It starts almost as soon as I lie down with a wheeze in my throat then a rattle and I cough three or four times then the white mucus comes up , I have a couple of seconds and the next bout starts. As soon as I get out of bed and sit up it stops. I am completely exausted and am at rock bottom. I dread going to bed and cant see when I will be able to return to work

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ASJ79 said on 20 March 2012

My Mother suffers this every year for 5 - 9 weeks at a time. It is awful as I feel there is nothing I can do for her. She had been going back and forth to the Doctor and getting nowhere so I turned to the internet.
I can up with WC to which she took to the Doctor and he said 'ah yes I think your daughter is correct'. She was given antibiotics but they done little.
This year when I called for a script and tried to explain to the receptionist she actually laughed at me and told me 'don;t be silly there is no such thing anymore' I just could not believe my ears. This resulted in my Mother having to wait for an appointment to get a prescription from the Doctor, taking up a valuable space and being infectious she really should not have even been in the surgery!

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Simon KyteTW said on 13 February 2012

I don t know why I thought my whooping cough test migt be a bit borderline because I had left the test a bit late. NHS test guidelines say "in the absence of a vaccination in the past 12 months an anti-pertussis toxin IgG reading of over 70 IU/mL is consistent with recent infection". Interesting... I aksed for my test result to be copied to me. Bearing in mind that this was the beginning of Week 7 and I had already had a course of antibios...
Bordetella pertussis anti-PT IgG: 337 IU/mL
Errm - that's not really borderline, especially since I have never been vaccinated, is it?

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Simon KyteTW said on 10 February 2012

I don't think folks quite understand what you mean when you can't breathe - they don't get that it is a physical impossibility, that all you can do is gasp air into your stomach and then wretch it out. It won't be too late to go to get a blood test. Took a trainee doc to persuade them to do one for me and the result was 2 weeks (thereby making it nearly 2 months since it started). Since the snow it has been worse again though because I commute by train.

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Simon KyteTW said on 10 February 2012

If you are being told it is too late for a swab test tell them the results from a bloodtest show up much later

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Simon KyteTW said on 10 February 2012

Finally a result after suffering since 23 Dec. Whooping Cough Pertussis. surprise surprise!
HPA will be in contact with more shortly.

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frensham said on 06 February 2012

My son 14 years old has had a cough for over a week then sleepless nights started with "episodes" so doctor said probably whooping cough!He was immunised and she said they "wear out" after a while!Now a week on and not much better am going back to get him tested ,but then what? The phrase there is a lot of coughs going round does not help.This is not a cough ,he can not breathe and has been sick various times now, this is his GCSE years so am aware he has been away from school over a week now . There must be something to ease this.As for being rare, my eldest son reported back that a couple of friends of his have had this in the last year ! Lucky for the school i looked this up and kept him away to ensure no one else came into contact.More should be posted at schools when some one has this.

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Smallroom said on 01 February 2012

I'm in the fourth week of a horrible cough with whooping. I had antibiotics, inhailer and a Chest x-ray in week two but it's not really changed. In the past couple of days I've woken up with a coughing and whooping attack which has left me fighting for breath for 2-3 minutes - really scary. Today I saw the doctor after a phone consultation where I actually had a coughing/whooping attack on the phone. He gave me a blood test for WC and antibiotics for it too but won't know for sure until results in three days. I am in agony from pulled muscles in every part of my rib cage and have a sharp stabbing pain in the right hand side of my throat despite my glands not being up. So fed up!

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clairissa said on 31 January 2012

There is a problem with whooping cough in my area and with adults. I am in the 3rd month of problems with a throat that keeps closing up and coughing whenever I yawn or laugh or talk for a long period. My doctors have just referred me to E.N.T so I don't know how long that is going to take! I have had 2 lots of antibiotics and asked for a blood test for WC but was just brushed over despite knowing I have been in close proximity to at least 5 people who have it. I wish I could just talk to another adult who has got it to swop notes as its a real worry ..Is it WP or not!!! I just want to know.

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Simon KyteTW said on 26 January 2012

This is exactly what happened to me. Is it too late for a blood test - I am in week 5 and have already had antibiotics.

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Simon KyteTW said on 26 January 2012

I am having exactly the same rubbish. As I understand it, it is to late to get a swab test. I have been looking into it with a private clinic but they want to charge £65+VAT just for answering that question. I spoke to one doctor and told him that i had been in contact with someone who had had whooping cough in the office (actually only her partner tested positive on the swab) and that i had never been immunised. He was helpful enough but the one I actually went to see wasn't convinced at all (and didn't seem to believe the fact that my mother had objected to all immunisations) but then he doesn't have to wake up going bright purple gasping for air every night! so a blood test could still work? i have had one wek of antibiotic treatment (and i am at least getting some rest at night). BTW tonight i heard someone else who sounds like they are going down with it on the train back from london.

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Lucibee said on 14 December 2011

There are currently pertussis epidemics in the US, Australia and NZ. I suspect there is also one in the UK, as many of my friends currently have persistent coughs that their GPs are refusing to diagnose as whooping cough. Lots of inappropriate antibiotics being given out and still the entrenched belief that this disease is rare in adults persists. It isn't, and we really need to get over that.

Me and my partner had it 5 years ago. We failed to get a diagnosis from our GP, so suffered for 3 months with retching cough and little sleep. One of the reasons that notifications are so low is that once a patient realises that it is whooping cough, they also find out that there is nothing they can do about it, so don't bother going back to their GP. Treatment is only beneficial in within the first 2-3 weeks, and as far as I know, there is no vaccine available in the UK for adults.

This is a public health issue, not least because of the productivity loss among working adults, but because of the risk of it being passed on to newborns and those with other conditions that put them at increased risk of severe/life-threatening sequelae.

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martybear said on 31 October 2011

after 6 visits to our GP, 3 visits to A & E and 3 visits to private hospitals over the span of 2 months,along with 2 chest xrays, steroid and antibiotic prescriptions, my husband was finally diagnosed with Whooping Cough. This was only after we demanded a blood test. Everyone we suggested Whooping Cough to said, "no way...too rare, not possible" etc. Imagine our surprise and disappointment when the test came back positive. Think of all the people he may have contaminated because medical professionals did not want to look at this as so. I can only thank the last GP we saw for having the insight to do a simple blood test to determine the cause of this debilitating cough. For him, we are grateful.

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