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Avatar universal

Coughing, coughing, coughing!!

I am completely disgusted, frustrated and depressed.  I have had a chronic cough for 10 months. I have seen 7 doctors including family GP, Pulmonologist, Allergist and ENT. Each one I have gone to has diagnosed me with whatever there specialty happens to be.  I have had X-rays, CT scans, spirometry tests, methylcolene challenge test.  I have been give 4 different antibiotics, the latest being Ciporil. Collectively the doctors have ruled out, asthma, allergies, lung problems.  However, I have been diagnosed with everything from asthma to just a respiratory infection that will go away.  I now scheduled for a 3rd CT scan.  The only thing that has been discovered is an infected sinus in my left cheek.  However, I can breath fine and have very little post nasal drip that I can detect.  The cough comes out of nowhere and takes my breath away.  I am hesitant to go out in public and have been sleeping in a separate bedroom to avoid disturbing my wife.  I have been given antibiotics, inhalers, steroids, codein pills and liquids, antihistimes, an assorted over the counter medications.  I am still coughing!  I do not trust the doctors opinions any longer as they treat me like a guinea pig.  The first thing the ENT wanted to do was surgery to clean out my sinus, eventhough there would only be an 85% chance of it curing the cough and possible complications from the surgery.  Oh yeah, I going to jump at that option!!  I have read that a doctor at a clinic in Illinois has successfully treated chronic cough with an antidepressent (amiltropilene - not sure of the spelling).  Does any medical professional know of this option?  Is there any clinic or specialist in the Boston area that has been successful in curing chronic cough, without surgery?  My quality of life has seriously diminished.  I have always been a healthy person and physically active.  What the heck is going on?
45 Responses
242588 tn?1224271700
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
It appears from your note that there are several clear things:
1. This is a frustrating problem
2. The frustration is aggravated by the differing medical opinions you have heard
3. You are willing to reach for an unproven method to control the cough

What you have described is a positive maxillary sinus infection on the left side, which is a very common cause of chronic cough.  There are two ways to approach this problem that are sometimes used alone or together.  The first is medical where antibiotics are used for a significant period of time and sometimes oral or inhaled steroids are added to not only clear the infection but open the sinus.  If you do not open the sinus, the fluid will continue to cause a problem even after the infection is initially treated.  The second therapy is sinus surgery to open the sinus and sometimes to clear out the area and lining.  No one will ever give you a 100% chance of a "cure" because none of these procedures works in 100% of people.  It appears that an 85% chance of success is not enough of a ratio of a positive outcome for you to try this approach.

Therefore, you are left with unconventional therapies, such as anti-depressants.  There probably is less side effect potential from this therapy than surgery, but also far less than an 85% chance of success.

Our suggestion is to discuss medical and surgical options again with a new ENT and then for you to make up your mind as how to proceed.
Avatar universal
Hi Billda,
Read your story, and just sharing my experience.  Are you taking any blood pressure meds ??  Last year I developed a very bad cough, I was coughing so bad, my chest was in constant pain, my head would throb, I was prescribed everything to relieve my cough, nothing worked.

Visit my Cardiologist, told him what was going on, he stopped my bp med Lisinopril, changed med over to Avapro which I no longer take, but after two weeks my cough stopped.
Good luck,
AJ    

  
Avatar universal
Thanks for your suggestion.  However, the BP medication I am on is not one that is considered by the medical professionals I have seen to be one that causes coughing (DIOVAN).
Avatar universal
My son (3 1/2 yrs old) had a cough that lasted five months.  We kept going back to the Dr. to be told that he had a cold.  I finally pleaded for more because I was tired of OTC cough syrups and sleepless nights.  He had a sinus infection - totally blocked left frontal sinus.  Took 40 days of antiobiotics and nebulizer treatments to resolve (also took three CT scans to ensure it was gone) but he hasn't coughed since (its been three months since we finished treatments).

Also may want to consider acid reflux/GERD, especially if the coughing is triggered when you lay down.  You may have no other symptoms.
Avatar universal
I had a cough due to an irritant in my home.  Started using an air purifier and finding what was irritating my lungs.  Once removed the cough stopped.  I know they probably told you allergies as a diagnosis, but ometimes retracing steps to see what was going on in your environment when the cough started 10 months ago may give you a clue in case something is bothering your lungs.  May or may not be the case but thought I share my story as I was told the cough was due to a cold etc.  But when I started to retrace my steps found the source of my problem.  
Avatar universal
I have been extremely healthy for years, and developed a cough.  It got progressively worse (even though I had been undergoing various treatments) until I was asked by my Pulmonologist if I had been exposed to Asbestos?  I asked my employer for an asbestos certification ( I work in a 35yr old building) who kept saying that it was performed but could never produce the report.  I investigated and found a report filed with the state stating that Asbestos was found in the building (but no removal certificate).  With this in hand, my employer hired an environmental company (who tested common areas only), no voids (above ceiling tiles) or airborne (A/C shafts).  Two types of Friable Asbestos was found and removed from the area, but trace ammounts (below 1% by weight) was not. We have been removed from the building (for now) but my cough continues.  Could this cough be the result of irritation in the lungs due to the 8 month exposure (I was in the room where asbestos was foundand removed)?  Additionally, is there any regualtion that I can state to force them to perform an airborne monitoring program?

Thanks  
Avatar universal
I am a 48 year old female, 5' 7" 145 lbs. I have had a chronic cough since 1991.  My son was born in March of 1991 (after I was told that It would be unlikely that I could have children) and 5 months after he was born I experienced my first episode.  At that time I was in California.  We moved to Arizona and my cough continued.  I began going to doctors about the Chronic Cough in Arizona.  I cannot name all of the anti-biotics and steroids and anti-histamines and inhalers etc. and blood tests that I have been through.  Nothing has been found. The doctors get excited when I walk in because they want to be the one to cure it.  Here we go again.  They start me out the same way all the other doctors start me out. Antihistamines, Steroids, they make me feel that I should have responded to their treatments and because I haven't It must be in my head.  I recently had to sell my business because It was extremely embarassing to sit in front of clients (and in my office) and break into a "convulsive" coughing episode.  I am using this strong language because I can't explain it any other way.  It awakes me at night.  To be fair to my husband I get up and go in the other room to sleep.  I can't even list all of the other problems that this aggravates, a few are incontinence, lower back problems with sciatica down both legs.

I have had other health issues such as prolactinoma(treated with parlodel approx 6 months before I became pregnant, three surgeries for ovarian cysts (dermoid, ruptured, etc.)  I would welcome an appointment with any doctor who would listen and try to get to the bottom of this.  

If anyone else has experienced anything like this I would be so happy to hear about it.
Avatar universal
I welcome and appreciate your comments, suggestions and experience sharing.  I have started feeling slightly better due to using a saline sinus bath that a friend recommended to me.  I use it morning, noon and evening.  I am still coughing but not as often or as violent. Once in a while it really rears it's ugly head and I have trouble even catching my breath to try to cough but, when I do I generally hack up a great deal of mucous (pretty disgusting, actually) and then the cough disappears until the next episode.  I am scheduled for a 3rd CTscan on Monday and a followup with the ENT on Thursday.  Although, I have little faith in him as he seems bent on surgery being the ONLY option.  I'll provide an updated post after the Dr. visit.  In the meantime, I hope you all feel better.
Avatar universal
I cannot express to you how much your situation mirrors what my wife has been suffering through for the last 9 months.  She traveled to Arizona from Chicago on Dec 26th, and I took her to the emergency room on when she returned Jan 2.  She spent a week in the hospital, and has been in and out of doctors offices since.  Multiple specialists here in Chicago and at Johns Hopkins have made no progress.  My wife was on the antidepressant for a month without effect, but please contact her at ***@****  She would like to talk to you further about this via email.

J
Avatar universal
Wow, to hear that there are people out there as exasperated as I am! I have been suffering with chronic cough for 6 years now. I've been through everything mentioned above, and then some.  I've been told it's acid reflux, and even went for a 6 month period of being virtually cough free after a cough specialist had me try an over-the-counter antihistimine (Drixoral) which he said is one of the strongest antihistimines around.  Then, it started to come back.  My episodes happen day and night, when following strict acid reflux diets, etc... there is no pattern.  It is to the point that I cough so hard, I end up vomiting, (sometimes 3-4 times a day).  None of the many specialists I've been to seem to believe me, even a cough specialist tried to tell me it was in my head (a habit cough).  I went to an allergist, who had me in for MANY tests and a lengthy period of time.   She was one of the few who actually witnessed several episodes, telling me that there is no way this is a habit.  It was also found I had no allergies.  I've had many scopes, sinus cleaning, asmtha/breathing tests, etc., and all the drugs referred to above, etc.  The last pulminary doctor I went to.. (the allergist sent me after reading reports of 2001 suggesting he scope me again), finally ordered a CT scan of my lungs.  He was pretty negative when I went in, and quick to just give me antibiotics for an infection (once again).  When I went back 10 days later with no results from the antibiotics, he read the report from the CT.  He found that I have minor bronchiecstasis (sp?) from that report.  When I told him the antibiotics didn't help, he finally decided to go in for another scope.  He told me point blank that he didn't expect to find anything, and that he, and the nurses in the room with him during the scope were quite surprised with the amount of mucus that was in my lungs.  He did what he called a "lung wash" and I was cough free again for almost 10 days.  It's back again, with the vomiting, etc. I've been reading up on LPR (a type of reflux) and think it matches me.  I'm willing to go to a clinic who specializes in LPR.  I'm very hesistant about surgery for a fundolupication (sp?), as I've heard horror stories of not being able to breath, things getting caught in people's throats, etc.  Does anyone know of any clincs.  I wish everyong the best.... I know what you're going through!  

M
Avatar universal
I was wondering if you've been given a test for 'valley fever'.  This is something from the dust in the deserts.
Avatar universal
My father has experienced a chronic cough ever since he underwent surgery in November.  CT scans show no evidence of lung disease or abnormalities.  He has been diagnosed with everything from GERD to COPD.  Has anyone else experienced this?  
Avatar universal
I went in for a CT scan because I had a swelling under my right ear lobe.  It comes and goes and I just finished antibiotics for it and had it lanced once.  My CT scan came back with these below results and now I'm terrified.  I also have a chronic cough, especially when I first wake up or when I laugh or scream.

1. Enlarged bilateral cervical lymph nodes most prominent within the bilateral jugular chains largest measuring 2.2cm left level 2 and 1.7cm right level 2.  Findings are nonspecific.  Clinical correlation is recommended.

2. Multiple pulmonary nodules within the visualized lungs measuring 8mm and 4mm in the superior segment of the right lower lobe and 5mm within the superior segment of the left lower lobe.
Avatar universal
I understand your concern and frustration.  I'm right with you, Kiddo.  My ENT has finally told me he doesn't have a clue what's causing this.  So, now what?  I would be happy to communicate with you via email however the email did not print in your post.  Sorry.  
Avatar universal
Well, here's an update on my situation.  I had my 3rd CT scan and followup appointment with the ENT.  He told me that the infection has subsided in my left sinus (so why am I STILL coughing?).  He also told me that I am a high risk for sinus surgery due to a bone connecting my nose to my forehead.  Seems that it is too thin and has a space in it opening directly into the sinus.  Didn't he see this on the previous 2 CT scans?  His advice, if you're feeling better, keep doing what you're doing.  Manage it as best you can and maybe it will go away ( and that will be another $125 please!)  So, for me, I will continue the sinus baths, take a squirt or two of an antihistimine and cross my fingers.  I do feel a little better with the coughing being more infrequent and less violent.  But, if I get warm, or if it is humid, or, if I play tennis (which I love) all hell breaks loose and the mucous factory goes into full production and then, of course, cough, cough, cough.  It seems as common as this condition is, no matter the cause, that some medical professional somewhere would take notice and do some research to come up with a cure.  All of the doctors that I have seen have an approach that reflects that they really don't care too much if you have a chronic cough.  If they can't cure it with antibiotics and it doesn't fall into one of their convenient diagnoisis they just don't think it is important enough to be bothered with.  As my doctor said, 'maybe it will go away'.  Great!  Sooooo Frustrating.  Hang in there everyone.  Just know that you are not alone in this.
Avatar universal
My husband experienced coughing so bad that he would black out for a few seconds. We thought it was due to his smoking, so he quit. This would happen even when he was driving. Several weeks later he complained of a pain in his side  and experienced a severe Migraine headache. A few months later we found out he had Renel cell Cancer and he died about six weeks later.
Avatar universal
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Avatar universal
Sorry about the previous posts... I'm used to typing on an ergonomic keyboard and trying to readapt to my new one.

Anyways, billda, I so understand what you are feeling!  I feel like a guinea pig, along with doctors making me feel like some sort of hypochondriac.  I cringe when I hear that, especially when this "habit" occurs mid-speech, wakes me up when I'm sleeping, and even occurs when I'm under strong anesthitic during bronchoscopes.    Unfortunately, like Murphy's Law, my frequent episodes haven't occurred while many of these doctors happened to be in the examining room with me.  They can't diagnose it, thus, it's a habit cough.  I wish I could find a specialist that will take me seriously.  I'd even travel across the country to get it taken care of.  It's frustrating, fatiguing, and even embarrassing.  I had the sinus surgery, and it did absolutely nothing for me.  If you are taking antihistamines, and it alleviates some, I strongly recommend Drixoral over the counter pills (they look like green M & M's and are usually kept behind the counter (at least in MI), due to stringent laws.  It did give me about 7 months of relief for some odd reason.

Good luck to you all with your dilemmas, I'll be happy to chat if you need some release... I know where you are coming from.

M
Avatar universal
Here's an update but nothing earthshaking.  The complexion of my condition has changed somewhat.  It seems now that I start coughing with lots of mucous around 4 in the afternoon for a few hours, then, it goes away.  Also, when I am playing tennis and get warmed up, it comes on strong to the point that I have to quit.  As soon as I calm down, it calms down.  I am still using the sinus bath, albuterol when I can't stand it anymore and occassionally a small sip of Robitussin, usually just before bed.  So, I guess I am "managing" it.  We're heading for Europe in a week or so and I am very curious how I will feel in a completely different environment over a couple of weeks.  I'll report back after the trip.
Avatar universal
Good to know I am not alone.  As the rest, I have had every test and drug known with nothing eliminating this PND.  I did find that taking benedryl at night helps some (even better with a glass of wine).  When I asked my Dr now what, he says, try it all, with or without wine, together or separate.  That is not what I would expect my conservative t-totalling Dr to say, but I think he is a frustrated as I am with similar patients.  It seems like every 4th person I run into has the same symtoms, so why isn't anyone finding a cure?  Thanks for the thoughts on Oil of Oregano.  That will be my next try.  I've never smoked, and drink no more than 2 glasses of wine at a time, am very fit with yoga, weights, walking and golfing.  Have no stress, and have nothing in my past that might cause all this.  One interesting bit, 10 years ago a Dr said I had allergies to grass and trees and gave me allergy shots which worked for about 2 years and 2 years after I stopped taking them.  Retested this year, including the blood test, and said I wasn't allergic to anything.  I can feel the depression in all of your comments and I am there too.  
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
I caught what I call "The Throat Clearing Disease" (i.e. constant feeling the need to clear my throat, feels like a pill/string stuck in throat, swallowing trying to get this thing to go down, frequent mis-swallowing so fluids or food goes the wrong way, feeling of something stuck in broncia)19 years ago I remember because I quit smoking Labor Day 1988 and I think I got this from kissing a person at a bar around that time, Oh that was worth it.  I did'nt realize I was contagous at first.  I have had immune problems all of my life and believe this has caused me to be a carrier.  I have over the years given this to all of my family.  I to have had fear of relationships due to this and have only seen two others and have sadly given it to both of them.  I dont think they are particularly contagious but am unsure.  Thankfully I spent my life in a factory so not to many others were near me.  Though after eating at my neibors house only twice she has started with the throat clearing, It seems as though if I speak with an "S" or "T" and my saliva gets on something and someone ingests it they will get the throat clearing problem.  We all just showed up with this very irritating thing after a cold or something seemingly innocent I think we have all been exposed to someone in an infectious state.  I have been treated with anti-biotics and steriods and IVIG and biological DMARDS and prevacid since being diagnosed with R.A. in 2000 and am planning more visits with a 5th ENT.  I havent had tonsills for 49yrs.  I have told every doc I've seen and tryed everything over the whole time with no results.  I still have a peak flow of 750.  I wish the docs would figure this out.  
Avatar universal
Try searching throat clearing and swallowing problems I think there millions of us unknowns.
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