Experts have revealed the symptoms to watch out for as a "100-day cough" spreads across the UK.
Health boffins at NowPatient have discovered the most common symptoms of whooping cough, which has seen a 200% increase in cases compared to last year. The disease affects the lungs and breathing tubes and can cause patients to suffer unpleasant effects such as difficulty breathing, coughing bouts and a runny nose.
The disease is highly contagious and can cause serious health problems. It can even be fatal in some cases, particularly among young children.
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Initial symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat and nasal congestion and the illness can often be confused for a cold at first. As the illness worsens, usually around seven days after infection, sufferers may notice: coughing bouts that last a few minutes and are worse at night; difficulty breathing after a coughing bout; thick mucus during a coughing bout; and a "whoop" sound or a gasp for breath between coughs.
Patients will usually be prescribed antibiotics but symptoms can last for weeks or months, giving the disease its nickname. Navin Khosla, a pharmacist at NowPatient, said: "For many years, whooping cough has been known as an infection which mainly affects children who haven’t been vaccinated and although cases are still mostly amongst children, whooping cough can infect adults who have been vaccinated, but the protection from the vaccine has started to fade.
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"In most cases, whooping cough will present symptoms very similar to a common cold, such as a runny nose and a sore throat, but these symptoms will intensify over the course of a week. Around seven days after being infected with whooping cough, longer coughing bouts will take hold and are most common during the night.
"As well as this, the intensity of the coughing bouts can cause breathing difficulties and produce thick mucus. The best protection against whooping cough is to have children vaccinated and for adults to accept booster vaccines where applicable.
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"However, if you do become infected and experience symptoms including vomiting, difficulty breathing and you notice your face turning red or blue, seek medical attention. In most cases, a course of antibiotics will be prescribed by your GP, but the symptoms could last several weeks or months."
Some 716 cases of whooping cough were reported between July and November of this year. That's three times higher than the same period in 2022.
Most cases have been reported in England and Wales but that doesn't mean other parts of the country aren't at risk.
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