Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Recurring cough over 18 months I am desperate

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 19 Replies
  • Posted By: ElizabethJ526
  • March 22, 2007
  • 02:22 AM

I am looking for any help here. Some basic information that might be helpful in this, I am 22 I was 21 when I first started having this issue. I have never smoked. I have been a baker for 2.5 years and have worked at the bakery for 6 years, while in the middle of all this the bakery moved so it was not the building.

On November 4, 2005 I woke up coughing, not just any cough a horrible cough, I would cough and cough and cough until I could not breathe. It was a Saturday and first thing on Monday I went to the doctor, my lungs were clear, he gave me cough medicine and told me to come back if it did not go away. It got worse over night and I got a different medication the next day. By Friday I was still hacking and I went back, he did a spirometry, and put me on Medrol, Albuterol and another inhaler I think it was Foradil. It got no better, then on Monday I had to get stitches and I had a reaction to the Lidocaine, and was still coughing so to combat the reaction and hopefully help the cough he put me on Prednisone. It did not get worse and it did not get better, I got my stitches out the day before Thanksgiving, and it was still the same. But, then on Thanksgivng (11/24/05, I believe was the date) it got worse again, only it got really bad and I actually coughed to the point that I stopped breathing and passed out into my Thanksgiving dinner, and then went to the ER. There they did a chest x-ray and it was normal, they drew blood and did a Pertussis test, everything looked fine. That doctor put me on Zithromax and told me to keep taking the albuterol and go back to my doctor. I went back on the Monday after Thanksgiving and he put me on Advair and did a sinus cat scan to see if I had a sinus infection that was causing it. Nope my sinuses were perfect. So he told me to wait a couple days and see if I got better, and obviously it did not. At this point my doctor was frustrated because he could not treat it and he put me on a very strong antibioic and said if that did not help he was sending me to a pulmonologist. I went to the pulmonologist and he tested me for asthma, put me on another cough medication with codeine, and told me to come back if it did not get better in 2 weeks. I saw him for the first time on December 9, 2005. On Sunday Dec 11, 2005, I went to a Packer game in Lambeau field and had to leave early because I was still coughing so bad, I was stopped by the paramedics in the parking lot while I was leaving because I was coughing so hard. Pulmonologist wanted to do a bronchoscopy but, could not because of the reaction I had to lidocaine. So he had me go do allergy testing, I was not allergic to anything. Inclduing my biggest fear which was going to be flour at the bakery I work at. The allergist and pulmonologist told me that I was not allergic to the bakery. I got so fed up with all this, by the time I was done with the allergy testing it was February. I just decided to live with it, hoping it would go away, and it did at the beginning of April. I had the cough for 6 months. And I woke up one day and it was gone. My regular doctor put me on acid reflux medication at one point, I don't remember exactly when but they did nothing.

Fast Forward to Middle of November 2006. I started culinary school in August and, was at school and started coughing. The same dry hacking cough over and over again. I went to the doctor the next day I tried to go to the doctor, only my doctor was gone so I had to see a different doctor and this one told me to ignore it, becuase I had only been coughing for one day. I was *****d. I tried to explain my history and she would not listen. So I left, and went home and my instructor would not let me come back to class until I was better. I went to a different doctor, he the same thing, my lungs were clear and he put me on Zithromax and two different cough medicines and told me to rest until I was better, Luckily it was over Thanksgiving break again, so I had 6 days to get better, I did not. Went back to class on December, 4 2006 and passed out in class, I did not cough and stop breathing I just passed out. It turned out that when I passed out in 2005 was not neccissarily related to the cough, but probably just a reaction. They detirmined that I had passed out those two times because my blood pressue would suddenly drop. I am now on medication for that. Over the next couple weeks my cough went away.
Now fast forward to this Monday, I get sick again. And yesterday I started coughing. In the last month I had found my old doctor who originally treated my cough and went to him. He put me on Advair, Medrol and if it is not better by Saturday, Zithromax. This time I do not cough and cough until I can't breathe, but, my chest hurts really bad when I cough.

If you read all the way through that, thanks.

There have been things different when each cough happened.
In November 2005 I was on no medications
In November of 2006 I was on Prozac
Also in November I was not working at the bakery
Now this month I am on Prozac and Metoprolol to keep me from passing out.

Any suggestions or ideas what might be causing this.

I have been on as far as medication goes:
Rhinocort
Tessalon 2x
Albuterol
Advair 2x
Foradil
Medrol 2x
Prednisone 2x
Zithromax
Levaquin
Tylenol 3
Promethazine with codeine
Cheratussin with codeine
I have been on as far as medication goes:
Rhinocort
Tessalon 2x
Albuterol
Advair 2x
Foradil
Medrol 2x
Prednisone 2x
Zithromax
Levaquin
Tylenol 3
Promethazine with codeine
Cheratussin with codeine
Prilosec
Aciphex
I know there is more, but I can't think of them right now. I was on a total of 15 in the first 6 months.

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19 Replies:

  • My husband had a recurring cough for years. I read that it probably was from acid reflux. The doctor confirmed it. Maybe you need to try a different acid reflux medicine. He takes a couple different kinds. Good luck.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Bakers are at an increased risk of respiratory diseases. There have been a number of studies on this but to be honest I am not entirely familiar with the results. I recall that occupational asthma has been reported and I think its prevalence depends on exactly what you do at the bakery (in other words how much flour/ dust to which you are exposed). I seem to recall something about an allergy to wheat being a possible explanation. I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that traditional asthma medication is of limited use for occupational asthma.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Have you considered carbon monoxide poisoning from the ovens in the bakery? I am having a similar situation at work - my desk is based about 6 feet from a very busy road junction and I have suffered from terrible headaches, nausea, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, breathing problems and a hacking cough ever since I started working here. My symptoms subside when I am on holiday or at the weekends. The cough has cleared up for the moment but if my breathing worsens I will get a cough which will hang around for weeks. I have had lung scans and lung function tests that show a thickening of the mucus in the lung airways (consistent with allergies) but otherwise everything is normal.I have bought myself a carbon monoxide meter because my work has refused to check the air quality of my office. I've only taken a few readings so far and the weather conditions affect the levels but I have already found that outside my office window, carbon monoxide accumulations are 30 times permissible levels. I only weigh 7.5 stone and have never smoked so I figure I am likely to be the first person in my office to be affected. I also sit in the worst location - overlooking 4 lanes of static traffic.Doctors I have seen choose to ignore any symptoms they can't understand (like the dizziness and colour of my skin - grey) and only deal with the obvious ones that fit into neat categories like asthma. It is very frustrating as they seem to think I'm making it up. Good luck - and make sure you document everything so you can refer to it later!
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I strongly feel you have an allergic reaction, and traditional allergy testing isn't as accurate as you may think (I too had all the testing done and they turned up nothing). Food intolerances may be contributing. I agree with Kenn that bakers are more vulnerable, and yeast could also be a factor. Please try to find a practitioner who does NAET (Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique). This is a revolutionary treatment and may really help you. To find a practitioner near you please visit www.naet.com. NAET practitioners test you for allergies to a huge array of things (including vitamin C and Calcium). It is an amazing treatment and very helpful for chronic illness (a hugely overlooked cause of chronic illness is due to the allergic response, and the ultimate breakdown of the immune system). Best wishesDOM
    acuann 3080 Replies Flag this Response
  • ...I have bought myself a carbon monoxide meter because my work has refused to check the air quality of my office. I've only taken a few readings so far and the weather conditions affect the levels but I have already found that outside my office window, carbon monoxide accumulations are 30 times permissible levels.... I have to say I would be pretty surprised if the outdoor levels were so high. This is way above what you would expect normally at the side of a road. What were the levels that you measured? It might be that there is another source causing the problem. It might be also that other pollutants are causing your health problems.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I am looking for any help here. Some basic information that might be helpful in this, I am 22 I was 21 when I first started having this issue. I have never smoked. I have been a baker for 2.5 years and have worked at the bakery for 6 years, while in the middle of all this the bakery moved so it was not the building. On November 4, 2005 I woke up coughing, not just any cough a horrible cough, I would cough and cough and cough until I could not breathe. It was a Saturday and first thing on Monday I went to the doctor, my lungs were clear, he gave me cough medicine and told me to come back if it did not go away. It got worse over night and I got a different medication the next day. By Friday I was still hacking and I went back, he did a spirometry, and put me on Medrol, Albuterol and another inhaler I think it was Foradil. It got no better, then on Monday I had to get stitches and I had a reaction to the Lidocaine, and was still coughing so to combat the reaction and hopefully help the cough he put me on Prednisone. It did not get worse and it did not get better, I got my stitches out the day before Thanksgiving, and it was still the same. But, then on Thanksgivng (11/24/05, I believe was the date) it got worse again, only it got really bad and I actually coughed to the point that I stopped breathing and passed out into my Thanksgiving dinner, and then went to the ER. There they did a chest x-ray and it was normal, they drew blood and did a Pertussis test, everything looked fine. That doctor put me on Zithromax and told me to keep taking the albuterol and go back to my doctor. I went back on the Monday after Thanksgiving and he put me on Advair and did a sinus cat scan to see if I had a sinus infection that was causing it. Nope my sinuses were perfect. So he told me to wait a couple days and see if I got better, and obviously it did not. At this point my doctor was frustrated because he could not treat it and he put me on a very strong antibioic and said if that did not help he was sending me to a pulmonologist. I went to the pulmonologist and he tested me for asthma, put me on another cough medication with codeine, and told me to come back if it did not get better in 2 weeks. I saw him for the first time on December 9, 2005. On Sunday Dec 11, 2005, I went to a Packer game in Lambeau field and had to leave early because I was still coughing so bad, I was stopped by the paramedics in the parking lot while I was leaving because I was coughing so hard. Pulmonologist wanted to do a bronchoscopy but, could not because of the reaction I had to lidocaine. So he had me go do allergy testing, I was not allergic to anything. Inclduing my biggest fear which was going to be flour at the bakery I work at. The allergist and pulmonologist told me that I was not allergic to the bakery. I got so fed up with all this, by the time I was done with the allergy testing it was February. I just decided to live with it, hoping it would go away, and it did at the beginning of April. I had the cough for 6 months. And I woke up one day and it was gone. My regular doctor put me on acid reflux medication at one point, I don't remember exactly when but they did nothing. Fast Forward to Middle of November 2006. I started culinary school in August and, was at school and started coughing. The same dry hacking cough over and over again. I went to the doctor the next day I tried to go to the doctor, only my doctor was gone so I had to see a different doctor and this one told me to ignore it, becuase I had only been coughing for one day. I was *****d. I tried to explain my history and she would not listen. So I left, and went home and my instructor would not let me come back to class until I was better. I went to a different doctor, he the same thing, my lungs were clear and he put me on Zithromax and two different cough medicines and told me to rest until I was better, Luckily it was over Thanksgiving break again, so I had 6 days to get better, I did not. Went back to class on December, 4 2006 and passed out in class, I did not cough and stop breathing I just passed out. It turned out that when I passed out in 2005 was not neccissarily related to the cough, but probably just a reaction. They detirmined that I had passed out those two times because my blood pressue would suddenly drop. I am now on medication for that. Over the next couple weeks my cough went away. Now fast forward to this Monday, I get sick again. And yesterday I started coughing. In the last month I had found my old doctor who originally treated my cough and went to him. He put me on Advair, Medrol and if it is not better by Saturday, Zithromax. This time I do not cough and cough until I can't breathe, but, my chest hurts really bad when I cough. If you read all the way through that, thanks. There have been things different when each cough happened.In November 2005 I was on no medicationsIn November of 2006 I was on ProzacAlso in November I was not working at the bakeryNow this month I am on Prozac and Metoprolol to keep me from passing out. Any suggestions or ideas what might be causing this. I have been on as far as medication goes:RhinocortTessalon 2xAlbuterolAdvair 2xForadilMedrol 2xPrednisone 2xZithromaxLevaquinTylenol 3Promethazine with codeineCheratussin with codeineI have been on as far as medication goes:RhinocortTessalon 2xAlbuterolAdvair 2xForadilMedrol 2xPrednisone 2xZithromaxLevaquinTylenol 3Promethazine with codeineCheratussin with codeinePrilosecAciphexI know there is more, but I can't think of them right now. I was on a total of 15 in the first 6 months. my name is mary and have had the same kind of cough for twenty years. if you find out what is causing your cough i would greatly appreciate it. thanks mary.
    mary42 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • Thanks for the input everyone! Mary, I am curious, do you cough all year or does it come and go. Because that is what is so very frustrating. I will be just fine for a couple months and then out of no where sound like a dying manatee.
    ElizabethJ526 4 Replies Flag this Response
  • ok so because your lungs are clear, it would lead me to believe that there may be a mechanical issue with your anatomy that is contributing... like a pinched nerve in your neck (one of the cervical vertebrae). another thought is mono (epstein- barr virus). a classic sign of mono is swelling in your neck and it causes this feeling like a bee stings the back of your throat and you cant cough deep enough to get to it. i know because i had it last year and because of your age, too, mono should have been suspected. the last thing i can think of is an infection in your deep neck space which could be caused by a dental procedure and is something they may not notice in the diagnostic studies unless they are looking for it, and bloodwork may not show it unless they drew it locally.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • The thought of dental work is interesting. About 2 months after the cough went away my wisdom teeth started causing problems and I had them pulled. It went really badly and I had almost every complication possible from dry sockets to issues with my sinuses. I had issues for months after they came out, my mouth hurt forever and still does occasionally, and it has been almost a year now and I still have holes in the back of my mouth large enough to get food stuck in, I never went back to the oral surgeon because I thought it was probably normal. I am 99.9% sure I was tested for mono last year when the doctor in the ER tested me for whooping cough. I am pretty sure he said he was going to do both. And they drew blood, so I am pretty sure they did.
    ElizabethJ526 4 Replies Flag this Response
  • i got this for over 3 month and tried lots of medications , did you reach any solution so far ?
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • At this point, no. It seemed to be getting better but it is still kind of lingering on. I sound like an old man who has smoked all his life, when I cough. It is deep and loud. My instructor told me I sound almost like I am sneezing when I cough. It is just bizzare. I am no longer sick, and am wondering if it is just the tail end of whatever I had when I was sick. My dad was sick too, and he was coughing but, his never sounded like mine. So maybe my lungs just can't clear out when I get sick. My doctor told me to stay on the Advair for at least a month and see if anything changes.
    ElizabethJ526 4 Replies Flag this Response
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  • I moved to Indiana for almost a year with my job and while I was up there I had just about the same thing you are having. Was in and out of Ers, Urgent care centers etc.....would have difficulty breathing, get pale ones said like going to faint, coughing, and finally ended up one evening in an Internal Medicine Clinic and saw a Internal medicine doctor. He put me thru the whole testing routine...EKG, chest xrays, pulmonologist...you named them all. My diagnosis was reflux causing spasms of the bronchial airways cutting off my air. He gave me aciphex (which I saw you used) told me to use that regularly though and not miss any of it, watch what I ate...nothing spicy, or to just notice what seemed to bother me the most. Also though told me to keep my inhalers handy just in case. Since I have moved back south I stopped the coughing until about 4 months ago and it began again. I again went to a internal medicine doctor and told him my history ...I had had a chest xray back in Oct so knew lungs were ok...anyway, he looked in my throat and said I have a clear drainage along now with the reflux and told me to take Clarinex each morning and my aciphex at night. The coughing has stopped. Good Luck to you for I know how scary this is and its horrible to go around coughing all the time....I work for a doctor and patients kept asking ME if I was the one sick and not them!!
    agypsygrl 79 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have to say I would be pretty surprised if the outdoor levels were so high. This is way above what you would expect normally at the side of a road. What were the levels that you measured? It might be that there is another source causing the problem. It might be also that other pollutants are causing your health problems.I have taken 14 readings so far and the average is 235ppm. The highest I have had is 690ppm and the lowest 108ppm. According to the advisory notes that came with the meter 0-1ppm is normal background and permissible levels vary from 10-50ppm. I am getting exposure for 8 hours a day. The readings always register in the same place - at a cross roads where 4 roads (8 lanes of traffic) meet and are generally brought to a standstill by traffic lights (right outside my office window). At any time of day I will get a reading over 100ppm. Even further along the street I normally register a 0 reading so I think it's something to do with the layout and thermals in that particular location. I have temporarily moved desks and my health is much improved since getting away from the window overlooking the crossroads but my boss wants to move me back to my old desk. I agree that it could be other pollutants. I've already investigated ozone as as well as being sat by 8 lanes of traffic I also had a fax machine positioned at the other side of my desk (widthways - i.e. about 40cm away) and another laser printer about 1m away - both emitted a very strong smell and were in constant use. However, despite moving the fax and printer away from my desk I still experienced the feeling of 'intoxication' that I was getting before along with the headaches, nausea, occasional dizziness and inability to concentrate (to name a few symptoms). It sounds strange but I feel grey and I can see that my skin looks dull and my eyes get a sunken in look about them and the hollow around them looks black. I'm at my wits' end trying to find out what the cause is - my work is now suggesting a dust allergy!!!!!! I've always been allergic to dust but it's never done this to me before - and why is work dust different to dust anywhere else - unless it has to do with the pollution (which they say it isn't). I should add that when I'm away from work for any length of time, I feel better and look better. At a weekend, it's normally about Sunday lunchtime before I start to feel better but then I go back to work.....As my symptoms are quite generic other people are writing them off as being caused by other things but I know that my health was fine before I started working here (18 months ago - I first got ill within a month). No-one else gets the symptoms to the same extent as me but then no-one else sits at my desk overlooking the crossroads and no-one else is as small as me (size 0-2 US, size 6-8 UK) . Other people have had respiratory infections but some of them smoke - I don't and never have. Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • These are truly horrendous carbon monoxide levels if the meter is working properly. The standard for 8-hour exposure is usually about 10 ppm (depending where you live). Such high levels would undoubtedly cause nausea and dizziness. I don't think that they would necessarily cause you to cough, although if the levels are so high then the air particle concentrations could well be high also. Traffic pollutants are well known to accumulate in streets with buildings on either side (it is called the street canyon efect). Perversely, the smokers in your office are less likely to be susceptible to the effects of carbon monxide poisoning. That said, I would have expected the air in the office to be pretty well mixed, so that even if you moved desk you might still suffer the same effects. If you feel that getting away from the window will help, tell your boss that the reflection on your computer screen is giving you headaches. It is worth mentioning the high pollution levels that you have measured outdoors to the Local Environmental Authority whatever. As for other pollutants, there are many possible types in an office environment. Unfortunately, there is still not a great deal known about their effects.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • My husband essentially coughed his way through childhood and was on 30 different asthmas medications when in fact his lungs were fine. he had terrible reflux because he had no sphincter muscles to keep the acid from backflowing into his esophagus. When he was 12 he had a nissen fundoplication and his symptoms went away immediately.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • ok so because your lungs are clear, it would lead me to believe that there may be a mechanical issue with your anatomy that is contributing... like a pinched nerve in your neck (one of the cervical vertebrae). another thought is mono (epstein- barr virus). a classic sign of mono is swelling in your neck and it causes this feeling like a bee stings the back of your throat and you cant cough deep enough to get to it. i know because i had it last year and because of your age, too, mono should have been suspected. the last thing i can think of is an infection in your deep neck space which could be caused by a dental procedure and is something they may not notice in the diagnostic studies unless they are looking for it, and bloodwork may not show it unless they drew it locally.Whoever wrote this post, if you see this PLEASE look at new thread entitled "Jaw/Neck/Chest pain for over 3 yrs after dental procedure". I am interested in your knowledge of diagnosing infection in the deep neck space as you describe. You seem to be somewhat knowledgeable about it and wonder if you know where I can find more info. I can't get any doctor to check for infection.
    Jean Marie 38 Replies Flag this Response
  • www.ahummingbirdsguide.com check it out...persistent cough, tickle in throat, constant clearing of the throat...go to sx page and see how many other sx you have...good luck...mommy cat
    mommy cat 1654 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi, not sure if you've had an answer to this or if too much time has lapsed. 2 things come to mind: heart issue or seizures. A cough can be an indication of an underlying heart issue, anything from mild to more serious. Seizures aren't always typical and can present themselves in odd ways, coughing or sneezing repeatedly. It is interesting that your blood pressure drops, making me wonder about the heart being involved. I doubt it is asthma, allergies, infection, etc. as you've been on many kinds of anti asthma drugs, antibiotics and tests come back negative. Perhaps it is time to see a cardiologist or a neurologist. Good luck!
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • January 11, 2010
    • 07:26 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • You probably have acid reflux. I struggled with a recurring cough for over 10 years. Even though I didn't have the typical symptom of heartburn, I was suffering from acid reflux. 1st, stay away from foods that cause acid reflux (lists can be found on-line). Next, eat peppermints after meals that could cause acid reflux. Lastly, while you have the cough, take 1 tablespoons of honey and 4 oz. of Aloe Vera juice 3 times a day to heal your esophagus. The cough should be gone is a couple of days. Good luck! rc
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
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