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Chronic Cough with Clear Mucus
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Chronic Cough with Clear Mucus

I have a chronic cough for the last 5 months.  I am a non-smoker and healthy.  My cough began last November with an episode of acute bronchitis.  Antibiotic worked and the cough stopped for 2 weeks during my winter vacation.  But the cough returned when I went back to work on January, when 2 cubic mates had acute sinus infection.  Now they are healthy and I am the one with constant violent cough.

So far I have visited doctors including a lung specialist 5 times and went through chest X-ray, sinus CT scan, food and pollen allergy test, and asthma test.  All the tests turn out normal.  Many of the OTC and prescription cough suppressants such as benzonatate, codeine, Robitussin-DM and Mucinex did not work.   I also take anti-acid medication every day for the last two months at the request of doctor but still no relief.  

My biggest problem is lack of sleep, since I would wake up with violent cough and long process of clearing the mucus at least 6 times each night.  It seems laying down and feeling of cold breeze on my skin are the main triggers of the cough.  I find only two things to reduce the cough to some level - drinking lots of water and sucking a cough drop during sleep.  

My doctors are puzzled by my problem.  I now use sleeping pill to get some sleep but have the side effect of headache.  I wonder if any one have encountered such problem and what is the best solution.  
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The statement that most impresses me is, “Antibiotic worked and the cough stopped for 2 weeks during my winter vacation.  But the cough returned when I went back to work in January, when 2 cubic mates had acute sinus infection This strongly suggests that your cough may be secondary to exposure to a home or work related irritant or allergen.  Also, that it began last November  suggests that the irritant/allergen might originate in your workplace heating ducts, November often being close to the time when it gets cold and heating systems are turned-on.

You could test this hypothesis by absenting yourself from home and work for a couple weeks, if that is feasible.  If the cough diminished that would give credence to the above suggestion.  If the cough persisted, unabated, that would not rule out the possibility, the cough having become well ingrained after 6 months.

You should also try to find out if any other workers in your work building or persons in your dwelling complex have experienced a similar cough.  You should also have another chest X-ray done as you might have developed signs of chronic pneumonia in the interim.  

If there is reason to believe that you are responding to some material in your workplace, you may want to contact OSHA and/or visit their website. http://www.osha.gov/    

The following is directly from that website:

DO YOU HAVE WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH RELATED QUESTIONS?:

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IF YOU HAVE WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH RELATED QUESTIONS:

[By Phone]:
1-800-321-OSHA (6742) {Toll Free U.S.}

[Write To: (required for an Official Agency Response*)]

[DOMESTIC ONLY]
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
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Occupational Safety & Health Administration - Room N3641
200 Constitution Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20210

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