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Whooping cough


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The main symptom of whooping cough is coughing bouts that can make it hard to breathe. Some children may make a “whoop” sound between coughs.

Whooping cough can cause serious problems in babies under 6 months old, including dehydration, breathing difficulties, pneumonia and seizures (fits).

You or your child may be given antibiotics to stop whooping cough spreading to others. They’re not needed if you’ve had it for more than 3 weeks.

Things you can do to ease the symptoms of whooping cough include resting, drinking lots of fluids and taking painkillers to relieve discomfort.

Whooping cough can spread easily. Stay off work, school or nursery until 48 hours after starting antibiotics or 3 weeks after your symptoms started.

The whooping cough vaccine is given to babies and children as part of the NHS vaccination schedule. You should also have it if you’re pregnant.

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes.

Page last reviewed: 21/03/2023
Next review due: 21/03/2026