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coughing spasms lead to passing out
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coughing spasms lead to passing out

my husband, 45, heavy smoker, has coughing spasms, which lead him to stop breathing and he passes out. he's been out for at least 2 minutes, maybe longer at times. on a visit to the local hospital for this condition, uninsured, they said they had no idea why he passes out, of course i told them its because he stops breathing, i want to know what the cough is about. they would do no tests, and didnt prescribe anything, just said its the winter season. that has been awhile. now in august of 04, he was hit in the head with a baseball bat, and his condition has worsened. again the same hospital, refused to do an mri, because of uninsured, yet said he needs one because something is wrong. of course the smoking can be causing this. he weighs about 280, 5'9".
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251132_tn?1198082422
This sounds like cough-syncope (fainting) and it can happen to anyone who coughs long and/or hard.  The blow with a baseball bat sounds awful.  It is unrelated to the cough and probably unrelated to the fainting.
The most important thing your husband can do is to stop smoking, now.
He should discuss all of this with his doctor who may do some testing to provide you both with peace of mind.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
smoke is the most irritable thing for a persons lungs.  if you cant afford to get any tests he should try to stop smoking, the cough will either go away or get partially better after a month or 2 of no smoking.  

how long has he been smoking?  its common for smoke to cause damage to a persons lungs.  sometimes it takes years before the person notices the damage its caused, and sometimes its too late at that point.

either way he needs a spirometry test to see what is going on.  he could have anything from asthma, to copd, or anything.
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Avatar_f_tn
Excessive coughing like what your husband is experiencing is causing a vaso-vagal response. There is a cranial nerve that runs the length of your neck and down. When rubbed due to muscle contraction in that area, like the straining from coughing, you can stimulate the vagus nerve. This then causes bradycardia, which is a slow heart rate, or can even cause his heart to slow enough to stop beating. This is where he would pass out. It is seen all the time in ICU patients that are manually suctioned with cathetors to make them cough. Your husband should rebound immediately from each episode. If he doesn't he could have brain damage from lack of oxygen while being passed out. This is why is is our protocol to hyperoxygenate and hyperventilate prior to suctioning just in case. (Give 100% Oxygen breaths and take very large breaths) Now... have we tried cough suppressants? :). This is dangerous for him to be doing it all the time. Don't stop until you get to the bottom of this.
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Avatar_n_tn
This happened to me!  I spent 2 days in the hopital after I passed out while having a coughing spasm while in an optomitrist's office!  The coughing had been plaguing me for weeks and no one knew what to do -- protocol after protocol and nothing worked.  While in Emergency, I was given an asthma nebulizer which seemed to help.  The consensus after 2 days of observation was the vaso-vagus nerve had been stimulated and "ordered my nervous system" to shut down.  It did...  I went down.  The continued consensus was to control my post-nasal drip which seemed to be causing my coughing.  I am neither a smoker nor a drinker.  I am 5'10" and weigh 270, similar to the gentleman above.  I have lost 30 pounds since this episode and the weight loss appears to have helped most of my "kvetches!"  Good luck!
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