- will get coughing bouts that last for a few minutes and are worse at night
- may make a “whoop” sound as you gasp for breath between coughs (young babies and some adults may not “whoop”)
- may bring up a thick mucus, which can make you sick
- may become very red in the face (this is more common in adults)
- sore ribs
- breathing difficulties
- fits (seizures)
Contact your GP urgently or call for medical help if:
- your baby is under 6 months old and has symptoms of whooping cough
- you or your child have a very bad cough that is getting worse
- you have been in contact with someone with whooping cough and you are pregnant
- you or your child has been in contact with someone with whooping cough and have a weakened immune system
Call for an ambulance or go to A&E if:
- your child has periods of stopping breathing and their face or lips go blue (cyanosis)
- you or your child are finding it hard to breathe properly
- you or your child have chest pain that is worse when breathing or coughing – this could be a sign of pneumonia
- your child is having fits (seizures)
How long is it contagious for?
What can I do to relieve the symptoms?
To relieve symptoms:
- get plenty of rest
- drink lots of fluids
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve discomfort
The whooping cough vaccine protects babies and children from getting whooping cough. The vaccine is routinely given as part of the child vaccine programme. If you are pregnant you should also have the whooping cough vaccine (ideally between 16 and 32 weeks).
Treatment depends on your age and how long you have had the infection. If your whooping cough is severe, or your baby is under 6 months old and has whooping cough, you will probably need treatment in hospital.
If diagnosed within 3 weeks of the infection, you will be given antibiotics to help prevent it spreading to others. Note that the antibiotics may not reduce symptoms.
If you have had whooping cough for more than 3 weeks, you are no longer contagious and do not need antibiotics.