Respiratory Disorders Forum
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Avatar universal


Hi, I'm 21 years old. I've been coughing for over a month and other than that I feel fine. The doctor gave me an inhaler and cough medicine with codine but none seem to be working. Additionally, I got an X-Ray and all seems to be fine there. My uncle passed away of AIDS a long time ago and I've always be deathly afraid of getting it, I was tested a year ago and the results were negative. Is there a possibility this is HIV or something? I hope I'm blowing this out of proportion but please let me know what you think this could be.
13 Responses
251132 tn?1198082422
It is not uncommon for cough, caused by a cold or other viral infection to persist 6 weeks, or in some cases longer, after the infection.  But, if this came out of the blue, without any hint of a respiratory infection, and shows no sign of subsiding, it would be wise to have further evaluation of the cough.  The main causes of such cough in an otherwise healthy young person are smoking cigarettes, heartburn, sinus disease, postnasal drip, and asthma.  The x-ray would be normal with each of these.  If you are smoking, you should stop.

HIV is transmitted either sexually or through transfusion and the latter has all but been eliminated.  If the cough were due to AIDS, the x-ray would almost certainly be abnormal.  I wouldn't worry about that.  If you have engaged in unsafe sex since the test was negative last year, you should be tested again.

You might also think back to remember if you choked on food, a pill or liquid.  This could also cause a cough in a healthy person with a normal x-ray.
Avatar universal
I am not an MD, but there are a whole plethera of things that can contribute to coughing.  
I would start the process of elimination this way, then move on to getting to the heart of the matter, of why you cough so much.  Yes, AIDS can be transmitted to anyone, but are you in a high risk catagory for it?  Not to be cross examining you, but you need to ask the questions to really know what you are dealing with.
My mother has stage 4 lung cancer, and smoked for many years, but had not for over 12 years.  Not to scare you, but, many people who never smoked, but still got lung cancer.  There are also genetics can contribute. Also, lung cancer kills more people than breast and ovarian cancer combined.  Do not scare yourself, just be rational about it.
Talk to you soon.
Avatar universal
Thank you very much for your input.  I think I just needed someone to calm me down. I don't have any of the symptoms that you listed. I appreciate it, anymore input from anyone wouldn't hurt either. Thank you :)
Avatar universal
HIV requires close bodily contact and/or transfer of bodily fluids. I assume you weren't that close with your uncle. HIV presents in the lungs as Pneumocystis pneumonia. Again, I would dismiss this entirely.

Unless you're living some sort of high-risk life style, I wouldn't think HIV would be the first choice for your cough.

You sound like a high anxiety person. I know because I live with two of them; one is my 25 year old daughter. They focus on one teeny tiny aspect of something and blow it completely out of proportion to its importance.

Depending on the intensity of your cough, and your geographical location, you may have picked up pertussis. There are some recent findings that indicate childhood DPT shots don't carry over immunity into adult-hood. There have been some pockets of infection in recent months in a few areas of the country - Columbus, OH was one of them.

http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/1031002382.html (this was from 2004)

http://tinyurl.com/7vkox  (page 3)


Again, pertussis produces some pretty specific symptoms, and your age puts you as an outlier, but it is something to consider, as you can be contagious to younger children IF you have it.

Take a deep breath, think about your symptoms, contacts with children in the last month or so, and geographical location. Again, I'm only bringing this up due to your age and duration of symptoms. You need to check with your doc if your symptoms have been going on this long.

More than likely, you have something much more benign going on. You probably need to speak with your doc about your anxiety more than your cough.

Good luck.
Avatar universal
Dont worry, I have all of your symptoms but know that I do not have AIDS
Avatar universal
It really isnt necessary but if it would put your mind at rest why dont you go and have another HIV test?
Avatar universal
i had a cough for years that the doctors could not explain - after a long time and after it got really bad it was diagnosed as being caused by a post nasal drip which has from allergic perennial rhinitis which was not from airborne allergens like pollen but from food allergies/sensitivites: dairy and soy mainly.
Avatar universal
It would be pertent for you to see a doctor and I know that several other people have already stated that. But, My father was diagnosed with an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and it caused severe coughing with no other symptoms. It cannot be found on an X-ray either. We didn't know how serious it was until it had started to leak. My father was immediately put into surgery to repair it. I think if it seriously bothers you and you are still coughing then see a doctor and ask about it.

Thanks and GL,
Aimee Bills
Avatar universal
A couple of years ago I had the same problem.  I had a cough which just wouldn't go away.  I had it for about 3 months & was finally diagnosed with whooping cough. This type of infection requires a different type of antibiotics.  If you have a sort of wheezing cough & sometimes lose your breath when you cough, check into this.
Avatar universal
We have had an outbreak of something in our family (and extended family).

Some of the kids have been coughing for weeks.  It gets worse at night.  Then, my father-in-law caught it.  He went to the doctor.  They said it was "allergies".  But, I never heard of an allergy that was contagious.

They gave him some sort of steriod.  It helped.  But, only for about a day.  He is still coughing and has a headache that is very painful when he coughs.

Now, my seven year old son is coughing.  He has been coughing during the day and worse at night.  He never coughs anything up.  My four year old daughter has started to cough, as well.

By the way, my son was in the hospital to have an EDG (scope of the small intestine) last Thursday.  He had just begun to cough at that time.  He was at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth.  

After the procedure, he had a hard time stopping coughing.  It was continuous.  They had him on a respirator for a long time.  He said it helped him to stop coughing.  They gave him some sort of steriod treatment and home he came.  Seemed to me that the steriod never did much for him.

We are hearing about other cousins (go to the same church) who are doing this same thing.  

Anyone have any idea what this might be?
Avatar universal
Please refer to my comments regarding Bordatella pertussis above, AKA whooping cough. Many doctors don't think of this. Antibiotics don't always help in the later stages of this, and it can be a very serious illness for younger kids.

This organism can be cultured from the nasopharyngeal area, but you usually need special collection devices and labs have to be set up to culture it, as it doesn't grow on regular media. There are new molecular methodologies coming out now to test for this. There is a DFA (direct fluorescent antibody) test that we set up along with the culture; however our lab is looking into molecular testing for the future (we're not doing it yet).

An NP culture must be taken with a very thin wire swab into the area in the back of the throat through the nose. Only a properly trained doc should take this kind of specimen. Throat swabs are just not adequate. Also see baumb79's comments in this thread.
Avatar universal
my three year old daughter has a cough only at night that is so bad she throws up.  Doctor has done many test and found nothing we give her singular and four breathing treatments a day plus prevacide. Nothing is working.  any advice?
Avatar universal
Again - did the doctor consider whooping cough? Has she been cultured for Bordatella pertussis (the causative agent of whooping cough)? Did she have DPT shots as an infant? If she was not vaccinated, I would discuss this with him ASAP. There have been outbreaks of this in different parts of the country. The organism exists - the reason we don't get it is because of vaccinations. They are finding that older kids/young adults are a reservoir because their vaccinations seem to be wearing off.
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