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1477811 tn?1321386453

Treatment induced cough?

Hello friends,

I have a question about a cough I've had now for about 6 weeks. I've been on tx for (Ribavirin/Interferon) since Dec. 3rd 2010. My cough just keeps getting worse as the weeks go by. At first I thought I must have caught something, but I don't think so now. It would have been gone by now. I told my doc about it 3 weeks ago and he said it probably wasn't tx related and that I should talk to my general practitioner. I did and my gp did a chest xray. Lungs are clear. They don't feel that way though, or more to the point, my bronchial tubes. My chest is tight, when I breathe in it's cold, and I can't get enough air. I'm anemic (hgb currently at 9.9) but my doc says to wait two more weeks for a blood test to see if my hgb drops, then he's considering a "booster shot." I'm very short of breath which I assume is the anemia. But what about the horrible cough and feeling as though I'm going to drown in bronchial fluids? Has anyone experienced this? It's even hard to talk these days because I go into coughing spasms and my voice is different from not enough air. Any input/sharing of your experience and what you have done to alleviate symptoms would be most welcome.

Cheers,
June
13 Responses
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446474 tn?1446347682
Hi June.

There is a flu going around here in SF with the symptoms of coughing and thick mucus. If you go on MUNI or even in store here I hear people coughing a lot. If you ever cough up the mucus make sure it is clear or white, not any other color which would indicate a bacterial infection. I have had it twice now. Just when it goes it comes on back! Ugh. I had na x-ray also looking for pneumonia. Luckily I had none. Everyone I know who has gotten this flu has had the coughing continuing for weeks after the worse part of the flu is over.

Best suggestion? I found that taking a warm to hot shower got the mucus flowing so I could keep it from building up as much. Also I have found a Neti Pot to clear my head sinuses too. But these are just symptoms. I hope your immune symptom gets rid of the flu virus soon.

It must be worse with anemia for sure. If you still worried contact your primary. May they'll give you an anti-biotic just in case there might be some bacterial there.

Good luck with your treatment. Hang in there!

Glad to see a local doing treatment.

HectorSF
Helpful - 0
548668 tn?1394187222
I had 'the cough'.    I went to the hospital because I was sure it was a chest infection but I was completely cleared and had no infection and no problems on the chest x-ray.  

Keep up a high fluid intake.   Strangely the best thing that enabled the phlegm to come up for me was laughing (not easy to do on demand).    I'm sure the anemia would make the cough so much more symptomatic and scarey.   I used a neti-pot for sinuses also - I think the mucus linings can get irritated (nose, lungs) - I had hay-fever for the first time during tx.  Good luck - I hope your hbg rises and stabilises.
Helpful - 0
1225178 tn?1318980604
Riba cough is rather common. My doctor said he hadn't heard of that side effect too, but if you read the package insert you will see that it is an expected sx.

I have been coughing since last June and am really looking forward to that ending when I get done with tx. Like stated above, keeping well hydrated helps keep the phlegm moister and easier to get up... sounds gross I know, but it is true.

Yes, for some reason laughing does make me cough my head off. I record all of the America's Funniest Videos on my DVR to help me keep a positive attitude during tx, and it never fails to get me coughing.

Hang in there,
Diane
Helpful - 0
1414174 tn?1304680526
I cough on treatment for sure.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I did not have that side effect from treatment but a friend of mine did for sure when she was on treatment.  She had to take mucinex because she was so full of mucus during treatment - along with the cough.  She had to sit in a recliner many nights in order to sleep.  I'm glad you got checked out by your doctor to make sure it wasn't an infection.
Helpful - 0
1477811 tn?1321386453
Thanks Hector, and yes, nice to "meet" a fellow San Franciscan on this forum. I'm a Social Worker so I'm with kids a lot; wondering if I caught something from one of them. Around Xmas I felt as though I had a flu but couldn't tell because I had flu sx from the Interferon. Anyway, hasn't gone away, in fact, cough and short of breath feeling is just getting worse. Don't know if my low white blood cell count has anything to do with all of this. Guess I'll just wait it out. Never heard of a Neti Pot; will look into that.

June
Helpful - 0
1477811 tn?1321386453
Thanks all for the recommendations.  I will give them a go.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
coughed entire tx, hated it
Helpful - 0
1280753 tn?1367757932
i started with a dry cough a few days after starting SOC. it's been 4 weeks now. my HGB is 11.4 and i am starting procrit in a week. it feels like i have bronchitis, but i know i don't. the shortness of breath is sometimes extreme. i have trouble walking up a flight of stairs.

as stated, a dry cough is a definite side...good luck
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I have been complaining about shortness of breath and cough as well. Had a chest xray and it came back fine. I've had it for 4 months now. What's really bad is I'm on vacation in Utah right now and cause of the high altitude the shortness of breath is way worse. Nothing worse than feeling you can't get a good breath and there is nothing you can do about it.
Helpful - 0
233616 tn?1312787196
if you are having trouble breathing and are below 10 HGB you are suppose to have Epogin (procrit offered to you.  Even on medicare that's low enough to warrant intervention.

You need to tell your doctor you want the shots, were you treating for cancer they would already have given you them, but for some reason they drag their feet offering them to hep C people. The cost is high, and we are second class I guess....cause we "did it to ourselves?"
Who knows why, but you need to insist you have a legal right to not suffocate when there are meds to allieviat that suffering.

I'd not worry to much about the cough, it's annoying but common. Were you further in tx it could be sarcodosis which also happens as a result of the riba, but this is usually something that happens later in tx and usually clears up after tx.  Since you are early in the tx, it's not likely that, and you had an xray that was clear so I wouldn't worry too much.
Get another check if it's still there in a couple months.  

A lot of us had a lot of bad symptoms as the riba built up...skin, eyes, throat, coughs, no sleep, the list if pretty long, and scary.  
Just take it easy, and get on the procrit, that would be my advise, and if you can't sleep due to the cough, then get a RX to help you sleep, not resting will make all the symptoms worse, but while treating you need an RX, don't just take OTC stuff, it could be dangerous to your liver especially while treating.
Hope you feel better soon.

mb
Helpful - 0
1477811 tn?1321386453
Hi Mb,

Yes, I'm a little confused as to why I'm not on procrit. I emailed my doctor again a couple of days ago and told him that I'm really having a hard time with the breathing, I can't walk more than a block now, standing is even hard, and my I now have dizzy spells. He told me that he will consider a "booster shot" but we should wait to see if my HGB continues to drop. I feel weaker. He wants me to get labs on February 15th. He said he'll take a look then to see if the booster shot is warranted. I'm assuming he means procrit. Perhaps he's thinking my HGB will go back up on its own.

I am trying to listen to my body and not push myself, though I had to work 10 hours yesterday which was really hard. I know my lungs are clear because of the chest xray, which my GP insisted on, along with cardio check up. I'm starting to wish my GP was in charge of this tx as he has always been very thorough.

As for sleeping, when I lie down, I don't have the cough so I'm lucky there. Sleeping is not an issue so far. I am starting to have dry eyes, sore throat, and skin issues, as I expected. I've gone through 3 bottles of Robitussin products but have now stopped as it doesn't seem to help. I feel as though I can deal with most of this, it's just the labored breathing and extreme weakness every day that has literally taken the wind out of my sails.

It's sad, what you say about Hep C and the stigma. I'm guessing you're talking about past drug use which is how some people get it? That type of thinking is similar to how some people think about HIV and it saddens me. I live in the Castro district in SF and see lots of hatred towards the LGBT population; not so much in my immediate neighborhood of course, but reactions from outsiders. The thinking of some is that people with HIV deserved to get it. I guess that's the thinking behind those with Hep C? Seems that way. For myself, I actually never did drugs, contracted the virus though a blood transfusion during a kidney donation to my brother. Irony is, the transplant didn't work, he and I both got Hep C, he died young, and I am now dealing with this. Too much fun.

Take care. Where are you at in your tx?
June
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Junebug...   Some doctors are, unfortunately, very uncomfortable prescribing the rescue drugs such as Procrit or Neupogen.  If your doc falls into that category, suggest to him that he have you monitored by a Hematologist (blood specialist) who would be more familiar with Procrit, etc.  My own GI had told me that if my numbers dropped too low during treatment that he would reduce my treatment meds rather than prescribe those additional meds.  I knew that if push came to shove, I would find a way to get the rescue meds rather than have my treatment meds reduced but, thank God, I didn't have to cross that bridge.  My numbers hovered at a smidge above "too low" all through treatment.  

So, talk to your doc and find a way to get him/her comfortable with prescribing Procrit for you...even if it means bringing another doc on board.
Helpful - 0
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