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Avatar universal

Constant throat clearing and cough

I have a respiratory issue that is extremely irritating. I became sick about a month ago. I had an upper respiratory infection that was treated with cortisone and antibiotics.

I am now left with a scratchy throat and a constant dry cough.  My vocal cords seem to be very irritated.  I get worse if I talk a lot.  Additionally, I can't eat certain types of food anymore, such as anything with a sweet icing such as a glazed donut or anything spicy. I don't normally eat sweet stuff, but I occasionally have dessert after a great meal. Those types of food will send me into a coughing fit.  I never go anywhere without a bottle of water because I never know when the couughing or irritation will happen.

When I was sick with bronchitis, I had a real problem with the breathing, but my pulse oxygen was normal.  My Dr. treats me for asthma, but the meds don't help this problem. I am beginning to wonder if I really have asthma. I never have wheezing when I cough.  When I get into a coughing fit, it is more like sucking air through a straw.

I have an appt. next week with an ENT, because the throat clearing, and horseness is extremely irrating and not very pleasant for those around me.

Has anyone else experienced this constant horseness, dry cough and inability to talk for a normal length of time.

Please tell me this is going to go away.  I hsve to be in meetings daily and  my voice is shot after about an hour.  

I appreciate your thoughts.

26 Responses
251132 tn?1198082422
Seeing your ENT is a good first step.  Many people actually complain of the same types of symptoms that you describe.  Some have them more and some less.  Often the problem is postnasal drainage that is a constant irritant of the throat and vocal cords.  This can be from an allergic, infectious or irritant cause.  The ENT should help you determine if this is the problem or not.
25201 tn?1255584436
First of all I'm very curious about your "name" as I lived on the Island for a number of years.... mine is in reference to the area saying "Just another perfect day in paradise" ..... Now on to your question: I had the same problem. first we thought it was an attack of bronchitis. 3 antibiotics later ... a different opinion .... due to my blood pressure medication (this happens fairly often) 6 wk.s off the med..... with no improvement. Symptoms worsened and there was some wheezing ... diagnosis of asthma and treated with appropriate med.s with some improvement. Referred to a Pulmonary specialist who without testing said .... no asthma, mild COPD which was aggravated by a viral infection. At present using (quoting the Pulmonoligist) the simple method of treatment. Albuterol inhaler as needed and Advair Diskus (steroid inhaler) every 12 hours. Very little coughing but some symptoms come and go .... weather, exertion, talking for long periods. Hope you get some answers soon .... I'm not completely satisfied but hope to adjust to this chronic condition eventually.
Avatar universal
I just bought a house in Sanibel six months ago.  I have been going there for 15 years and finally found a house that I loved and bought it.

The asthma meds don't help.  I sincerely don't think I have asthma.  I think I have a vocal cord problem that is irritated by sinusitis. I sincerely have to clear my throat 25 times a day and I have a lot of coughing. The asthma meds are useless for my ailment.  Hopefully, I can find a pulmonologist that I can see quickly because I am going back to Sanibel on Wednesday. I have an appt. to see the ENT but am not sure how well they treat my problem.  We will see.

Did you have hoarseness and loose your voice when you had these respiratory ailments?

Nice to meet another person who loves Paradise.
Avatar universal
I just moved away from west central Florida and do miss it!  As for your voice and coughing, it sounds to me like it could be gastric reflux.  One of the most common symptoms is the need to keep clearing your throat.  If it is more severe reflux, you can have hoarseness and chronic severe sore throat as well.  Coughing, especially at night, is another very common symptom.  You could try some OTC Prilosec while you wait to see your doctor again.
25201 tn?1255584436
The previous poster mentioned GERD as a cause and that certainly is a good possibility ... you didn't mention if you ever had any indigestion problems and I would think that you would have this as well. Yes, I did experience some hoarseness but that could be from the irritation of the constant coughing. Did you have a Pulmonary Function Test ?? That would be one of the first steps in making a diagnosis. Your Primary Care Physician could certainly order that and interpret the results.It'a difficult because so many things cause these same symptoms. In addition to the hoarseness I seem to sound as if I had a cold when I speak............  Enjoy the Island a little for me .... it's been a few years since I've been able to get back for a visit.
Avatar universal
sorry to hear you are suffering with all that coughing.  I know how you feel this same type of problem has been with me for over 3 years.  I have been to Ent who thought the problem was my sinuses and tried to help with that, however , although I did have a sinus infection and was treated with antibiotics  and even had sinus surgery, I never got rid of the constant coughing and hoarseness.  I was diagnosed with late onset asthma about 1 1/2 yr. ago and am on asthma meds which really has not stopped the coughing and enourmos amount of phlemg I bring up. I also get worse as I talk and when  eat anything sweet or very fatty.  I had all the tests to rule out gerd and FOUND OUT THAT WAS NOT THE PROBLEM AT ALL. I recently was put on a 10 day burst of prednisone which calmed it all down while I went on a vacation. Unfortunately as soon as the prednisone was out of my system all the phlemg and coughing and clearing and hoarseness is back! I hope I haven't discouraged you but I also am looking for a cure so to speak! So, I guess i'm not alone in this since Ihave read so many others with similar issues.  Good Luck  I hope yopu have better luck than I have had.
Avatar universal
I have the same ongoing problem as most of the posts and have had these issues since I got my first 'extreme shortness of breath' incident about 5 years ago.  I went to my doctor and was treated for 8 months for asthma and tried every inhaler available along with singular...blah blah blah.  After 8 months, I saw a pulmonologist and he had me moved from his office to the hospital by ambulance because I was almost dead from lack of oxygen.  I was then diagnosed with 'viral pneumonia', given mass amounts of steroids and after 2 weeks in the hospital was released with a breathing machine, albuterol and proceeded to reduce the dosage of steroid until off of them.  This took over a year to be med free and I felt good for a short time and it came back again.  I had many pulmonary function tests and lung xrays and they showed nothing.  I have acquired constant throat clearing from this experience along with constant wheezing due to mucus deep inside my lungs.  If I get a dose of steroid and antibiotics every other month or so, it appears to go away, but within a couple of weeks of finishing the meds, it is back again.  It is annoying to say the least.  To not be able to figure out what it is or fix it, is more annoying.  I have been told it could be GERD also, but have been on nexium, protonix and they too don't fix it.  I am currently taking advair daily and have albuterol for little attacks.  These do not fix the problem and barely make it better.  I will keep trying to get an answer, but feel it is an ongoing problem that isn't being fixed.  I know this doesn't help, but if I figure something out that does, I will post it.  If anyone figures something out, please do the same.
Avatar universal
I just noticed that I spelled my nickname wrong. Doesn't surprise me since I seem to live in a constant daze anymore.

First I want to refer to a previous post I found..


First off my problem started on January of this year. It began as a general "golf ball in the throat" feeling. At first I believed I was having some sort of allergic reacion and had my husband rush me to the hospital. After a couple of visits my doctor said it must be the BP med he put me on and changed me over to Cartia and Cozaar. Well, the problem got worse. It didn't seem to consist so much of the golf ball anymore. It changed. I now have a steady flow of mucus going down the back of my throat. Constant. I clear my throat constantly. I do it so much I don't even notice anymore. My family members have told me that I can't seem to go through a couple of minutes without doing it. I've been tested for allergies and my only allergy was to mold and a mild reaction to dust. I have had the upper endoscopy which came back normal. I have had a stomach emptying test done, normal. I went to the allergist and he told me I had mild asthma which totally shocked me. He put me on a bunch of allergy/ashtma meds which seemed to make things much worse. I would feel that my throat was literally closing on me. Of course, I would rush to the ER and they would say my blood ox was normal. NEVER do they look down my throat or at my vocal cords. NEVER. I've noticed sometimes if I talk a lot it can cause an "attack" and I feel that I have to remain in constant silence while my vocal cords relax and I can breath again. Generally the narrowing feeling seems to be below my voice box. When it's getting bad my voice will crack and I will sound hoarse until I clear my throat. I've been on two different kinds of reflux pills, no help. I don't have reflux! I don't even get heartburn. Sometimes I feel the docs are just guessing and others are just putting me on all these meds to get kickbacks from the drug companies. I just want to know what the h*ll is wrong with me. Sometimes it get so bad I panic and have to take a xanax to calm down. It has killed my social life and my married life is suffering. My children don't get the attention the need because I'm always laying around feeling bad. I also wanted to add that I have always had problems about getting strep and for some reason my infections always migrate into my ears. My tonsels are huge and sometimes I get these hunks of white cottage cheese like stuff stuck on them. I know it's gross but I don't know what else to call it. I just want to feel better. If my BP med is causing this, I will quit them tomorrow and face a stroke! Anything to stop this constant post nasal drip and swollen throat. I have been taking ibuprofen for the past few nights and I don't know if it's my imagination or not but it seems to help so my throat must be swelling somewhere or that wouldn't make a difference.

Please, does anyone have any answers to this. I'm at my wits end. Also my ENT wants me to have my deviated septum fixed. After reading some prior posts, I'm scared to now because it looks like it may make my PND worse. HELP!
Avatar universal
I too have what I believe to be a constant poat nasal drip triggered by I don't know what. I'm in my late 30's and have had it for about 3 years or more. My brother has had it for about 15 years. I finally went to an ENT and he first told me it was most likely reflux, as it is in most patients, but he was unable to see any signs of it via scope, so I started a nose spray which didn't help. Now I'm using the purple pill, also no help. I have to clear my throat several times a minute, espically after I eat or drink, even water. After eating or drinking it is unbearable for about 1 to 1.5 hours. My saliva always seems to be very thick also. I drink water all day long, it's all I like, so I'm getting plenty of the proper fluids. I once spoke with a family Dr. who told me there is a nerve in the roof of my mouth, or maybe the throat I can't remember, that for some people gets stimulated when one eats or drinks and can trigger a runny nose or even post nasal drip. If that is true then the more it drips, the more I swallow hard, the more it drips. I have tried eating painfully slow, chewing my food for a long time and taking smaller bites and it does seem to lessen the effect, but it still drips. I have also tried Claratin, Sudafed and others and none of that stuff seems to do anything. However, I do on occassion take a pill for pain called Tramadol, and one of it's side effects is to make me very thirsty hours after taking it. This drying out also effects my PND as it seems to really thin out the secretions so that even though I still seem to have to swallow more than I think is normal, it doesn't make me feel as if my throat is clogged so I cut back on the throat clearing considerably! It is my Viagra of side effects:) Now I can be a little happy about the chronic injury I sustained many years ago. Truthfully, the injury is much more desirable than the constant throat clearing. I would rather give up some fingers or toes than continue to live with this. It is a horrible thing to be in public or to have a relationship with this problem.
Avatar universal
Wow!! Hello first. I am 31 yrs old 5-8 190 lbs. In great shape. But  I have been through so much in the last 2 months I don't know where to start. I was a smoker for one and developed a cold in earlier sept. that turned into some type of flu----bronchitus----and I did not know what happened after that. I got home from work after going to the emergency just to get some antibiotics and cough med. I work outside pretty much. But I started coughing so much I blacked out.

Now here is what happen to me I won't write forever but like I said I can relate. I have vasovagal syncope (cough syncope). I already knew that but I also caught pertusis (whoping cold) over hte last month I was blacking out from coughing 5-10 times a day. My nerves were crazy I was breaking out in cold sweats My emotions were crazy things were not looking good. I went to a Neurologist. I live in north east Ohio so cleveland clinic has some of the best doctors in the world. I have great Insureance so I see them. He told me that I have cough syncope but did not give me any med because he said when the cough stops so will the Blackouts. I suppose this is true

Number 2 I had no voice from coughing that was the worst because my throat felt like there was a worm in it and that was making me feel like was having an anxiety attack. Things were happening to me that I never believed happen to people. So next I talk to buddy at worked he had the same cold but with out the pasing out. Now he is a non smoker and drinker. I now knew what ever it was I had I cought it from some one and my dad and a few other people at my job had this type of cough that made them almost pass out and puke. But with me I was blcking ot so I have been off work since sept 24 and mind you I have only missed one day of work maybe one day a year. I went to and ENT he said it was gerd and gave me nexium.

The next day I went to my doctor and he gave me and inhaler, benzotate, biaxin and head ache pills. But the noe of that stuff worked. after looking on the net about this type of cough and found out that its a whooping cold that I ony thought infants get but I have it. Its a very tough thing to diagnos. Really from what I read knowledge of it is the way to know because it has 3 stages and in the bad stage its hard to detect the bacteria in your throat.

The only relief I have is that I hope its not forever I have not blacked out in over a week but I learned how to control the cough when it starts. When I drive I slow down just in case something might happen from coughing. I don't cough as much maybe 5-10 cough attacks a day. Thats good considering 3 wks ago  I could not lay down to sleep and ony got about 2 hours of sleep a day for about 3 wks. If i did I would cough till I blacked out. I even make the noise after I cough like a can't breathe. and I can't talk for a few second till some air gets back in my lung. My chest hurts like hell when I cough because I fight the attack its almost like I swollow the cough. i antibiotics worked on the flu I had but htis cough I see nothing works I just Have to ride it out.

For about 7 people I know tohave his cold leads me to believe that is some type of pandemic that the Doctors aren't saying because this is major if pertusis is back in full blow.But i will keep you guys informed on when it almost over. But does any know anyone with pertusis as an adult. If you think you have it Its contagious in the first few weeks till you some antibiotics
Avatar universal
I am reading similar situations on this post that I am going through.  At the end of June 2006 I had a slight fever and felt lousy one weekend, slept most of that weekend.  A few days later I started coughing and developed huge quanitities of sputum (clear, not yellow or green)coming up from my bronchials or lungs, not from my sinuses..no post nasal drip.

I went to the Dr. when the coughing got so constant and bad that it was keeping me up all night.  I was put on azithromax..that did not work, then Levoquin, which I stopped after the 5th day because it was making me very sick...then finally methylpredinsalone (steroid) for 5 days which helped for a few days and then the cough returned.  This went on for a couple of months, I either cracked a rib or severally sprained my rib area from coughing and coughed so violently that I ruptured small blood vessels in my throat.

I am now seeing an internal medicine doctor who ordered blood tests to check for bacterial or fungal infection...all came back negative and I am having a chest CT scan in a few days.  Meanwhile..I too am on the Advair discus twice a day and an Albuterol inhaler as needed for bad coughing attacks, helps a little..but the huge quantities of sputum are not going away.  

This condition has started taking over my life!  I am a real estate salesperson who has a violent cough when I am with clients (embarrassing...and it is not controllable), I am losing sleep at night due to coughing, I re-sprained my ribs on one side.  People look at me like I have some terrible, contagious disease (which I don't know if it is or not).  

I have been told that I could just have chronic bronchitis and there may not be a reason or a cure...just have to live with it.  I am not settling for that answer!

I live in the Phoenix area of Arizona...we have very dirty air here right now...all the dust naturally and from the massive construction going on here...not to mention all the new cars here from the big influx of people moving here.  I am wondering if it is something in the air as they say that I am reacting too.
Avatar universal
I seem to have the exact same problem.  I have a post nasal drip sensation about 20 minutes to an hour after I wake up.  Often, it becomes a bit less severe throughout the day but reoccurs after I eat.  No medicine seems to work.  I have been to the doctor for allergy testing and I was told I am allergic to a number of pollens and foods but I happen to know that I have had no allergic reaction to these stimulants in the past - so I do not completely trust the allergy tests.  I am beginning to think, to an extent, that the problem is psychological / habit.  The last two times I went to the Doctor, my throat was fine during the visit.  That being said, sometimes I can not talk unless I clear my throat - though it is hard to cough anything up.

I have been doing research the last couple of weeks and have found similar ailments diagnosed as GERD, stress, habit, or a few others that slip my mind.  

Has anyone had any success in correcting the problem?

Thank you.
Avatar universal
hi everyone i also have had the same cough for 15 to 20 years now.and have went to the doctor for tests from every thing from gerd to post nasal drip,allergies,you name it i've had it done.  the doctors think i am crazy.but the last doctor i went to said his mother has had the same cough for the past 6 years but they didn't know what it was. whatever it is, one thing I know for sure is that it is contagious!  I have givin it to my wife , daughter, and neice who lives with us.  I think the reason why the cdc are not doing anything about this is because it is mostly bothersome and is not killing people.  We need to all get together and do something to be herd by these doctors. All it is doing is getting worse and more and more people are getting this. It is becoming an epidemic. We dont know were to turn from here and am hoping I can get some answers here.  Please Help!
Avatar universal
Hi all,

I've been trying to post a question on this, but looks like many people have this sort of experience.

I had a sinus infection almost a year ago that has developed into the symptoms that people are describing here. It took about a week. The symptoms are still with me. Constant chest conjestion, especially when lying on my back, severe mucus production after meals and even water (this makes me skip meals), the sympotms are also caused by stress and exercise. I am a 30 yo non-smoker, a competitive endurance athlete, and a scientist, with a very active lifestyle. Now all these things interfere with my breathing. I spend 50% of my time visiting docs trying to figure this out. Albuterol, a/biotics, singulair, sinus rinses, you name it, have no effect. My peak flow volumes are 750-800 (which, i guess, is considered "to the roof") and don't change whether I feel bad or good.

The only thing that seems to provide some relieve is a huge dose of advair (500/50), and travelling from where I live - the Bay Area. E.g. high mntn air and desert air cure me.

My doc (who is a department chair at a respectable teaching hospital) says that I "defy diagnosis".

In case people want to set up a group on this , my email is runcyclexcskiREMOVE_THIS***@****. perhaps we could have our docs talk to each other.
Avatar universal
A year ago I was diagnosed with Whooping Cough. Since then I have had a terrible cough w/ yellow mucus. I have been to ENT, Chest Specialist and now onto a Pulmonologist. I have been tested for GERD(negative), Lung Function(Very Good),Hi Def.head, neck & Chest CT Scans (all okay). I take Prevacid (just in case of GERD that is not seen) and I do take a number of pain meds. due to a back surgery that didn't work. I wheeze at night and cough out of control after eating or drinking (yes,even water)NO ONE knows what the problem is. Also, I have damaged my vocal cords from the cough (ENT verified by scope), so now I am always very hoarse. Sometimes only able to make noise while forcing air out! Doctors aren't sure if I will ever get my normal voice back. I missed my grandson's first Christmas last year and have avoided all family get togethers due to my cough. It is very depressing, not to say expensive. I take Mucinex (over the counter expectorant) it works by thinning the mucus. I also clear my throat constantly, day & night. I have basically been living in my bedroom because my cough is so loud my husband and son can't stand it! HELP
Avatar universal
I have been in a constant cycle of throat clearing and coughing for seven years now and it's getting worse.  I do have GERD which is supposed to be helped by the little purple pill. However, I'm taking the maximum dose twice daily and it's not working.  I just had gall bladder surgery and thank goodness my surgeon is taking my throat clearing seriously. Up to this time, I've felt like a ping pong ball being batted between my ENT and gastroentologist.  The ENT said it was caused by GERD and the gastro said it wasn't. My surgeon is now working with the gastro and is setting up some motility tests for me.  I am a teacher - imagine what I've had to go through for seven years with my throat going totally hoarse during lectures.  I lay in bed at night and clear my throat for 1-2 hours before I can sleep.  I've absolutely had it with this condition.  If anyone finds any cure for this dispicable ailment, please let me know.  I can't even share a room at conferences because my roommate would end up hating me.
Avatar universal
Has anyone here, with the chronic resp. symptoms, been tested for HPV?

I read recently where Johns Hopkins has located about 80 strains of HPV; some cause oral warts (which used to be considered impossible in people without HIV or other immune compromising conditions).

Just wondering if HPV can cause the symptoms in throat and larnyx that some here are talking about?
Avatar universal
One more addendum.  My cough/throat clearing is NEVER productive.  No mucous.  Nothing.  Just the constant feeling that my throat needs to be cleared.  Some of the drugs prescribed made my throat dry as a whistle, which, I think aggrevated the situation.
Avatar universal
Reading these posts has really hit home with me.  I've been suffering with this "affliction" for the past few years.  It started when I was living in Nashville.  I constantly had a "tickle" in the back of my throat.  Many trips to the doctors, all with the same diagnosis of upper respiratory infection and Z-Pacs.  After a few times, the doctor prescribed Mucinex.  I took that for a few weeks and finally stopped after waking up on successive nights gasping for air.  Fast forward a year and a move to Baton Rouge.  Now, the throat clearing and dry cough are near constant.  It is absolutely miserable.  One doctor diagnosed GIRD (prescribed Aciphex).  Didn't work.  Symptoms persisted.  He sent me to an ENT doctor.  More tests with new prescriptions for Nasinex, Aciphex, & Zyrtec.  Symptoms are persisting.  Symptoms start in the morning and usually get better when I'm home.  My job involves talking all day so I'm sure that doesn't help much.  I've gone from thinking it was GIRD to allergies to possibly even Tourrette's Syndrome.  Even thought it might be from mold exposure as one of my old apartments in Nashville had some black mold growing on the bathroom wall that they couldn't get rid of.  My mom has a similar "throat" clearing sensation and has had it for years.  Hers is usually worst right after eating.  Mine happens if I eat, drink, don't eat, or don't drink.  It truly is miserable.  Miserable for me and miserable for those that have to be around me.  I'm just about at wit's end.
Avatar universal
Sounds exactly like what is occuring to me...

I've had this "problem" for a year now and the frequency varies, but the symptoms are consistent; coughing, sometimes leading to coughing fits and sudden closing of the throat.  Sometimes the slightest irritation sets me off and sometimes when I'm asleep I'll suddenly wake up with a violent cough leading to or in the middle of a total choking sensation.

I also have gotten to recognize possible triggers such as spicy food, food with lots of "texture", also many times something really sweet will set me off.

I'm very careful about stearing clear of colds and/or any upper respiratory infection because it leads me to the dreaded coughing and choking; unfortunately, I'm highly susceptable and cannot always avoid it.  I'm in the middle of one right now.

Last night I was in the emergency room until 1:00 a.m. because of this "thing"; the doctor diagnosed me with bronchitis, stemming from a cold, and has prescribed azythromicin (antibiotic) and Prednisone (steroid)to treat the bronchitis and swelling of the throat.  I explained in detail about the closing off of the airways, triggered by the couging fits, but they just gave me this "yes...anyway" look, like I'm a crazy-woman in the ER in the middle of the night and they have bigger problems to deal with than my fear of choking in the middle of the night.

By the way, that is my biggest fear; sometimes I swear I feel like one of these days, under the right conditions, I'm going to choke to death.

I have asthma and I'm not sure if this is a contributor or direct cause.

So to recap, I live in mortal fear of too spicy/too sweet/too textured foods, colds & upper-respiratory infections, and I'm also startng to fear sleeping. I can't go anywhere without a bottle of water and coughdrops.  I'm sick of this and I need to figure out what this is or find a doctor that doesn't think I'm crazy, and finds a diagnosis and treatment for this condition.

I'm sorry that this is happening to you because I understand how frightening this can be not just to you as the "victim" but to those around you who have to watch you have these episodes. I hope you find answers and will post and share with us.  I wish you luck and good health.
Avatar universal
After reading this particular section, I am convinced that we all have the same or a very similar problem. I have had this conditions since 1999 and at first it was attributed to the remnants of a serious bout with bronchitis which lasted for a month.  It has gotten steadling worse and now every morning I am horribly congested - I wake up feeling like everything is normal -  however about 30 or so minutes, the coughing, choaking and gagging begins.  I discharge and cought up what seems like gallons of mucous.  It is always clear and doesn't have any paarticular bad taste. I have to take a hit of Albuterol to get things loosed up and I drink water in an attempt to thin the mucous that is lodged in my broncial tubes.  I get bronchitis regularly about every three months and since 1999 have had the same old standy prescribed to me - Prednisone and an Antibiotic -My Doctor recebtly sent me to a Pulmonologist who ordered a PET Scan.  PET Scans are supposed to be the all-seeing eye.  The scan looks at your systems from head to about the knees.  I was relieved when the test came back as negative on all matters where cancer might be suspect.  It did reveal that my thyroid was a little lower in my body than what it should be but that was not a problem in the estimation of the Pulmonologist and not the cause of any of my breathing distress.  He is convinced that this is caused by GIRD and that is what I am being treated for now.  After reading several of the articles, this has been a false alarm for several of the suffers.  I am now thinking that I many too be on a quest that will not do anything for me.  I think the bottom line of all of this is - that, one must just keep looking at possible causes and do whatever is necessary to remedy the cause. Good luck to all - please wish the same for me. Best Wishes for a symptom free New Year.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, contant coughing and clearing throat was started.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, Constanly Cough was started.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, chronic cough was started.
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