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Posts tagged ‘cough’

BBC News – Lung cancer warning: ‘Don’t ignore persistent cough’


The campaign is aimed at the over-50s

Anyone with a cough that has lasted for three weeks or more should see a doctor, according to a campaign to reduce deaths from lung cancer.

England’s biggest cancer killer, it claims 28,000 lives a year, partly because it is often diagnosed too late.

The main symptom is a chronic cough – although most instances of this will not be due to cancer.

The Be Clear on Cancer lung cancer campaign is aimed at people over the age of 50, as they are most at risk.

Other symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • a cough that has got worse or changes
  • repeated chest infections
  • coughing up blood
  • breathlessness
  • feeling more tired than usual for some time
  • losing weight for no obvious reason
  • an ache or pain in your chest or shoulder that has lasted some time

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “More people die from lung cancer than any other cancer in England, but many people don’t know the signs and symptoms that could save their lives.

“The message from this campaign is clear – if you have a persistent cough, go and see your doctor. The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the more likely that treatment will be successful.”

via BBC News – Lung cancer warning: ‘Don’t ignore persistent cough’.

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Whooping cough: Three more babies die in outbreak

Baby being vaccinated
Pregnant mothers and their babies are now being immunised against whooping cough

Three babies died from whooping cough in October as one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in decades continues, Health Protection Agency figures for England and Wales show.

It brings the number of deaths in newborns, who are most at risk of fatal complications, to 13 this year.

There were 1,614 infections last month, bringing the total to 7,728 this year.

A UK-wide campaign to vaccinate pregnant women, to pass protection on to their children, is under way.

There are surges in whooping cough cases every three to four years. However, the current outbreak has affected nearly 10 times as many people as the previous outbreak in 2008.

There have been more than 1,600 cases reported in Scotland and around 200 cases in Northern Ireland, but no deaths.

Immune system

Whooping cough

  • It is also known as pertussis and is caused by a species of bacteria, Bordetella pertussis
  • It mostly affects infants, who are at highest risk of complications and even death
  • The earliest signs are similar to a common cold, which then develop into a cough and can even result in pneumonia
  • Babies may turn blue while coughing due to a lack of oxygen
  • The cough tends to come in short bursts followed by desperate gasps for air (the whooping noise)
  • Adults can be infected – but the infection often goes unrecognised

The infection can stop a baby breathing or lead to pneumonia, brain damage, weight loss and death.

Newborns are most vulnerable as they are too young to be vaccinated – doses are given at two, three and four months of age.

Pregnant women, between 28 and 38 weeks, are now being offered a whooping cough vaccine. It should prompt the mother’s immune system to create more antibodies to attack the whooping cough bacterium. The antibodies should pass from the mother to the child in the womb and offer protection when a baby is born.

In August, there were 72 infections in children under one. That fell to 67 when the vaccination programme started in September and fell again to 46 in October. However, it is too soon to tell if vaccination is making a difference.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant epidemiologist for immunisation at the HPA, said: “The October figures show a continuing rise in the overall number of whooping cough cases.

“While there has been a decline in the number of infant cases it’s important to emphasise that it’s too early to see any impact from the pregnancy vaccination programme.

“We strongly recommend all pregnant women take up the offer of vaccination.”

Graph showing cases of whooping cough

Routine vaccination was introduced in 1957. Before then cases could affect more than 100,000 people and kill 300 in a single year.

Health experts do not know why the outbreak is so large this year, especially as vaccination for whooping cough is at record levels.

One theory is that the bacterium that causes the infection, Bordetella pertussis, has mutated.

Another idea is that tight control of whooping cough is part of the problem. People’s immunity to whooping cough is boosted throughout life by being regularly exposed to it.

However, after years of low levels of whooping cough the whole population may have been left more vulnerable to the infection.

BBC

Whooping cough outbreak spreads to very young babies

baby being vaccinated
Babies are offered a whooping cough vaccine at two, three and four months of age

The outbreak of whooping cough in England and Wales has spread to very young babies who are most at risk of severe complications and death, the Health Protection Agency has warned.

There were another 675 cases in June bringing the total to 2,466 for 2012 so far.

At this stage last year there had only been 311 cases.

Increased levels of whooping cough have also been reported in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The main symptoms are severe coughing fits which are accompanied by a “whoop” sound as children gasp for breath.

Surges in the number of whooping-cough cases are seen every three to four years. This latest outbreak began at the end of 2011.

Before routine vaccination in 1957, whooping cough outbreaks in the UK were on a huge scale. It could affect up to 150,000 people and kill 300 in one year.

‘Very concerned’

There have been 186 cases reported in infants under three months this year compared to 72 in the same period last year. Five babies have died from the infection.

Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at the Health Protection Agency, said she was “very concerned” with the increase in cases.

She said: “Whooping cough can be a very serious illness, especially in the very young. In older people it can be unpleasant but does not usually lead to serious complications.


Whooping cough

  • It is also known as pertussis and is caused by a species of bacteria, Bordetella pertussis
  • It mostly affects infants, who are at highest risk of complications and even death
  • The earliest signs are similar to a common cold, which then develop into a cough and can even result in pneumonia
  • Babies may turn blue while coughing due to a lack of oxygen
  • The cough tends to come in short bursts followed by desperate gasps for air (the whooping noise)

“Anyone showing signs and symptoms, which include severe coughing fits accompanied by the characteristic ‘whoop’ sound in young children, but as a prolonged cough in older children and adults, should visit their GP.”

In the UK, the whooping cough vaccine is given to babies after two, three and four months. A booster dose is given just before primary school.

Babies are not fully protected until the third jab. It is in the following years that protection is at its peak then it gradually fades. It means you can get whooping cough as an adult even if you had the infection or the jabs as a child.

The Department of Health’s Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation is considering ways to tackle the outbreak, such as giving teenagers or pregnant women a booster jab.

Vaccinations for medics working with young babies have already been recommended to protect them and prevent them from spreading the infection.

Figures for the end of March showed 27 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland, compared to 13 in the whole of 2011. At the end of March there had been 150 cases reported in Scotland compared to 22 in the first three months of 2011.

Prof Adam Finn, from University of Bristol, said: “The current vaccination programme has reduced whooping cough in children, but also pushed it back into older age groups.

“Immunity due to vaccine does not last as long as immunity due to infection so as the number of people who have had whooping cough in the past falls, population immunity falls and rates go up.

“This is happening everywhere, not just in the UK.”

BBC

Persistent cough ‘could be lung cancer warning’

Watch one of the Department of Health’s new TV advertisements as part of the lung cancer awareness campaign

 

The public should be vigilant about persistent coughs as they could be a sign of lung cancer, a new government advertising drive is warning.

The campaign, which is being run in TV, radio, print and online media, recommends people with coughs lasting three weeks visit their GP.

Research has shown the public are much more aware that lumps and bleeding are warning signs of cancer than a cough.

But the ads make clear persistent coughs should also raise alarm bells.

The push is being backed by celebrities including comedian and actor Ricky Gervais, TV star Linda Robson and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

‘Horrible disease’

Cancer tsar Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “It is vital that cancer patients get treated quickly so they have the best chance of surviving.”

It’s devastating when you see someone you love dying from lung cancer”

Ricky Gervais

Lung cancer affects 33,000 people in England every year, with the majority of cases occurring in people over the age of 55.

But when diagnosed at an early stage, as many as 80% are alive five years after diagnosis – compared with 7% if it is spotted late on.

Ricky Gervais, whose mother died of lung cancer at the age of 74, said: “It’s devastating when you see someone you love dying from lung cancer.

“It’s a horrible, horrible disease. My mother’s death was very sudden and you can’t help wondering if things would have been different had it been spotted earlier.”

BBC

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