Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
Chronic Cough for months
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Chronic Cough for months

Hello,
For 4 months I have had chronic coughing and short of breath. It first started when I was exercising - but has progressed to all day. I am not able to exercise anymore. And I can't even laugh or walk a small distance without coughing.
The cough is worse during the day, and is deep, dry, and very painful.  My lungs ache constantly. I had a PFT, a Lung CT scan and Xray.(during and after these tests, I had the worst coughing attack - and was exhausted for days). All tests came back fine. About 2 or 3 weeks prior to the cough, I started having heart palpitations.  I wore a 24 hour holter monitor..and it was within normal range.  The heart palps have gotten worse also.
When I am not at work for a few days, the coughing and palpitations seem to ease up.
It seems that I am worse at work. I have a test next week to determine if I am allergic to penicillium -which was found to be the highest mold in July 2001 after the building had a flood in 2001. The bldg has been re-checked, and supposedly all molds are in an 'acceptable' range now.
My meds are: prevacid...nasonex..livosten(allergy eye drops)..and a inhaler -which is not helping.
I am a 36 year old Female.. never smoked.. and I am so weary and exhausted. Can the palps and coughing be related - it seems as though they occur simutaneously? Can a mold or bacteria live in the lungs? What are symptoms? How is it diagnosed? What else can I do?

Thank you so much for your help!!!!
pookie92
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The most common causes of chronic cough are asthma, post-nasal drip and gastro-esophageal reflux.  It is unlikely that the cough and the palpitations are related to each other or that there is a common cause.  It is more likely that the palpitations are due to anxiety and exhaustion from so much coughing.

Your description of the onset of cough and shortness of breath suggests exercise-induced asthma.  I recommend that you have a methacholine challenge, a test used to diagnose asthma.  If it is asthma your cough and shortness of breath should get better with routine use of asthma medicine.  Ask your doctor if he/she would be willing to give you a 3 to 4 week trial of intensive asthma therapy.  I would also consider requesting a 3 to 4 week leave of absence from your job.  This would test the hypothesis that the cough and shortness of breath might be related to your exposures at work.

If you do not get relief with these measures I suggest that you see a Board Certified Pulmonologist with a special interest in cough.

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP) is a reaction in the lungs to organic and inorganic materials like mold.  Usually the chest x-ray (CXR) is abnormal with HP.  In the early stages of the disease the chest x-ray may be normal, while the high resolution CT scan is not.
8 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Pookie, did a pulmonologist do a bronchoscopy on you? I also have the same symptoms.  They did do a Bronchoscope and the doctor took "washings" from the various parts of the lung and had them biopsied for various diseases.  I have been exposed to Aspergillius penicillius Mold in my home for at least 6 years.  Now, they are cleaning it up but the worst of my symptoms came during the clean up period even though we had moved out.  My hubby and i coughed for 4 months and brought up boo coos of mucous.  he is doing better but I have days when I seem not to catch my breath or cannot breathe out as much as i breathe in.

They wanted me to see an infectious disease doc about the aspergillius but this doc seemingly did not have any experience in diagnosing and or treating mold related illneses.

We were diagnosed with pneumonia that they think was secondary to adult onset whooping cough and or the mold.  Whooping cough can stay with a person for OVER 100 days and can linger on even after that but to a lesser degree.

God Bless.

P.S.  I will see an allergist soon.

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Avatar_n_tn
Thankyou for your reply, Addie -
No i have not had a bronchioscope.  I doubt that they will perform one since the CT and Xray are normal.  I have since seen my allergist - and I will be tested for penicillium allergy this thursday. My doc gave me another inhaler - and so far so good...but I have only been at work one day this week.  And I do feel my lungs starting to 'ache', and the cehst palps are coming back, but not much coughing right now. My allergist told me that I need to get out of the building. Easier said than done.

I just wonder if the penicillium (or some other mold) did enter my lungs..would it show on a CT or Xray - are there other tests needed to confirm allergy or breathing problem not identifiable on CT?

I hope and pray the best for you, Addie, and your husband.
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Avatar_n_tn
Have you had an echocardiogram? I am a 39 yr old woman. 3 yrs ago
I started coughing and wheezing alot. I also felt drained and very weak. Eventually I was diagnosed with a myxoma- a nonmalignant tumor in my heart. It was the size of an orange and was affecting the blood flow to my lungs and the rest of my body.
Myxomas are very rare and probably not likely but then again I never thought it would happen to me. I went to the dr. several times over a 2 yr period with cough and tiredness my only complaints before i was diagnosed. Any number of heart problems can also affect your lungs. To close, after emergency open heart surgery I'm as good as new and feel like a million bucks--I'm even jogging!  Get your heart checked out to rule out anything weird or CHF.  Terry
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Avatar_n_tn
Are you on any Beta blockers (for high blood pressure) or taking anything for migraines, glaucoma? The medication can cause a chronic cough in some people. You can get a list of medication that causes cough for over-the-counter and prescription from your local pharmacist.

Chronic cough is also a sign of heart failure. The palpitations you are experiencing correlate with that theory. Heart failure also gives you shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness.. difficulty walking without a cough, and so on.

Postnasal drip is another cause. PD is mucus that runs down your throat from the back of your nose. If you are told you have PD, avoid dust, molds, smoke, pollen, certain chemicals and anything you are allergic to.

Other causes for chronic cough include the asthma and heartburn. Taking some asthma medication might help.. if it still persists, consider the heartburn. Sounds crazy, but heartburn can do it too. Acid from your stomach may back up into your throat. This is called "acid reflux." It can cause heartburn or cough. Acid reflux is more common when you're lying down. If you have this problem, try raising the head of your bed about 3-4 inches.

It might help to avoid eating or drinking for two hours before going to bed or laying down. You should not drink alcoholic beverages or drinks with caffeine in them, or eat chocolate or spicy or greasy foods right before resting. An antacid (Tums is good) or an acid-blocking medicine (such as Pepcid or Zantax) may also be helpful.

Make sure the air ducts in your home are clean. Have someone come in to clean them and check for mold in your basement.

Get allergy tests done. There is a serum test now that can examine your blood against certain substances to determine if you have allergies you weren't aware of. The older method included "cuts" in the skin, with the substance added to individual scratches to provoke a reaction.

Also, you might want to look into a Strep (throat) test. Strep is notorious for staying dormant and re-surfacing.

I hope by the time you read this, your cough has been long gone. If your doctor has diagnosed you, please tell us your results so that it might help others too.

Best,

Anai Rhoads
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Avatar_n_tn
I was browsing through the internet looking for information on lung disorders when I ran across your entry.  You may have already been diagnosed but I wanted to tell you about my diagnosis just in case you are still suffering.  I had the same symptoms as you describe for your self. I could not walk from the parking lot to my job, nor could I climb 10 steps without being without breath and exhausted. I was ill for years before diagnosis. But I was finally diagnosed and treated for a disease called Sarcoidosis.  I went to a pulmonary doctor in Houston and he did a biopsy of my lungs and that is when he found it.  I really hope and pray that you find a solution and a treatment. It took 5 years before I was finally healthy, but I am now completely healed, even the scars in my lungs are gone, Praise God.
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Avatar_n_tn
I was browsing through the internet looking for information on lung disorders when I ran across your entry.  You may have already been diagnosed but I wanted to tell you about my diagnosis just in case you are still suffering.  I had the same symptoms as you describe for your self. I could not walk from the parking lot to my job, nor could I climb 10 steps without being without breath and exhausted. I was ill for years before diagnosis. But I was finally diagnosed and treated for a disease called Sarcoidosis.  I went to a pulmonary doctor in Houston and he did a biopsy of my lungs and that is when he found it.  I really hope and pray that you find a solution and a treatment. It took 5 years before I was finally healthy, but I am now completely healed, even the scars in my lungs are gone, Praise God.
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Avatar_n_tn
I was browsing through the internet looking for information on lung disorders when I ran across your entry.  You may have already been diagnosed but I wanted to tell you about my diagnosis just in case you are still suffering.  I had the same symptoms as you describe for your self. I could not walk from the parking lot to my job, nor could I climb 10 steps without being without breath and exhausted. I was ill for years before diagnosis. But I was finally diagnosed and treated for a disease called Sarcoidosis.  I went to a pulmonary doctor in Houston and he did a biopsy of my lungs and that is when he found it.  I really hope and pray that you find a solution and a treatment. It took 5 years before I was finally healthy, but I am now completely healed, even the scars in my lungs are gone, Praise God.
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