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Whooping cough - not just a kid's illness


val douest

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I have just been diagnosed with whooping cough (aged 65 and having had it as a child).  I gather it is not that uncommon to get it again though it is usually not as severe on second or subsequent occasions, and is often under-diagnosed as adults frequently soldier on with the after-effects of 'a bad cold', so I thought it might be worth posting on the subject.

My experience was a heavy cold (suffered during a trip to the UK), a cough and catarrh, a few days feeling better and then a tight chest and dry cough.  As this was three weeks from the initial cold symptoms and as I felt totally exhausted all the time, I decided to see my doctor who after a thorough examination made his pronouncement.  I hadn't realised that whooping cough (coqueluce in French, and medical name pertussis) is a bacterial infection so antibiotics can help shorten the duration and prevent complications.  This being France, I am now equipped with enough prescribed medication to keep a small African nation in drugs for a year, but I am hopeful that in a week or two I will be able to hold a conversation without a dramatic coughing spasm and that I will have some energy to do anything rather than doze through daytime TV.

So if you have similar post-cold symptoms dragging on and especially if you have no energy at all, it may be worth visiting your GP.  If you are diagnosed with coqueluce then antibiotics may help, and you might be able to cast your mind back to when you were at your most infectious and check that anyone you were in contact with and who may be vulnerable goes to see their doctor.  The incubation period is usually 5-14 days.

So a merry Chris .......cough cough cough...mas to you all and a happy and healthy 2008,

Val

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Hi Val,

My GP gave me a vaccine against whooping cough last year - I asked for my tetanus to be updated and she checked my other vaccines, then gave me a 5 in one vaccine that included whooping cough.  I did query this but she said that all 'jeune mamans' were now being advised to have the jab to protect their children - it did make sense and I do love being called a 'jeune maman' at the age of 40!

Hope you feel better soon

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Yes, I'm very grateful for the excellent care and attention all round, though knowing how the healthcare system here is struggling to make ends meet I think it's a pity when, say, two boxes of 24 tablets are supplied when the actual prescription requirement is 16. It would be quite easy to split a box containing two bubble packs of pills. Talking to my French neighbours, most of them seem to have a hoard of unused prescription medicines well past their sell-by date and with their original purpose long since forgotten.  I think we are supposed to take unwanted medicines back to the pharmacy but I guess at that stage they are just disposed of; better surely to have a less lavish supply in the first place.

Thanks for the good wishes Susie and Busy Bee - I'm feeling much better now and will be officially out of quarantine (after a course of erythromycin) on Sunday.

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Sorry, I meant to say two boxes of 12, making 24 tablets when the prescription was for 16 tablets - hence the need to split a box.  But I guess I could have given back the extras in the pharmacy if I'd been there and realised I had too many; as it was someone else collected the prescription.  No big deal really, but it just seems a shame to waste resources.

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You are right val, it does end up being wasted. Up till fairly recently, if you took back unused medication to the chemist, they would pass it on to CYCLAMED, an organisation which then distributed those medicines in third world countries. But due to some abuse (like the re-selling of those medication by unscrupulous inviduals), all medication that you take back to the chemist is now destroyed, whether opened or unopened. And when you think of all the sick people in the world who have no access either to medication or to medical care, it does seem a big deal - unfortunately, nothing much that we, the patients, can do. The ones who do very well out of that system, are the pharmacies.

Best wishes for a prompt and full recovery. Having had mumps later on in life myself, I know that those children's illnesses are not much fun for adults.

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