Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

chronic cough, gagging, choking, burning, hypersensitivity

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 13 Replies
  • Posted By: DaveinLA
  • March 15, 2008
  • 06:57 AM

In September 2006, I had what I thought was a normal cold. It went from the head to the chest. I had a nagging cough that I thought would abate in a short time. Instead, that same cough (dry, squeaky, spasmodic and nonproductive) remains with me to this day. I cannot inhale, laugh, eat, talk or do virtually anything without launching into the cough. It's a deeply embedded reflex sensation. I have frequent intense burning and tickling in the throat, as if a hole somewhere is leaking something (mucus? bile? acid?). I also have a chronic feeling of having to clear phlegm from the throat (globus). I've had numerous tests, all negative. I'm scheduled for a sleep study (I often gag myself awake when lying on my back, as if a ridge or ledge or swollen area is impeding my air flow) and a "virtual bronchoscopy" (a CT scan in lieu of an optic tube inserted by a pulmonary doctor). Could a long-ago virus, bacterium or fungus have silently and invisibly destroyed part of my airway? One ENT physician thinks I have a chronic stubborn case of GERD or LRD, but my 24-hour PH acid tests were unremarkable, as were a battery of swallowing tests (barium, motility, etc.). I had my gallbladder out in 1994 and a fundoplication (esophageal tie-off) surgery in 1995. I had hernia surgery last October. Sinus scans have been negative, as was an MRI of the throat region. An endoscopy and a colonoscopy were both negative, as was a food/dust/pollen allergy panel. I'm banking on the upcoming pulmonary studies to reveal something; if the "virtual bronch" is revelatory, I'll follow up with a regular bronchoscopy. If this is GERD or LRD, then why didn't previous courses of Prevacid and prednisone do anything? I've modified my diet and bought an elevated pillow, but still no relief. Does any or all of this sound familiar to anybody out there? It's really been difficult to live with. Any input would be appreciated.

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13 Replies:

  • The tests for GERD may not show anything. Are you overweight? I put myself on a calorie restricted diet and losing midsection weight seemed to help me a lot.
    aquila 1,263 Replies Flag this Response
  • Yes, I'm trying to lose weight. That can only help. Regarding the cellphone post: I don't that's relevant at all, but thanks for posting it.
    DaveinLA 2 Replies Flag this Response
  • Have you elevated your bed? Avoiding eating 3 hrs before bedtime? Or maybe sleep in a recliner, could help.
    TaylorDeelwithit 382 Replies Flag this Response
  • Could be something in your environment. Get the heater and other appliances checked for gas leaks. Also, your heater/air conditioner may be causing the problem if they are dirty and the ducts are dirty. That alone can keep you constantly in a state of dis-repair..i would also look for mold in the house. Look for a pollutant for some of your troubles.
    Monsterlove 2,921 Replies Flag this Response
  • have had similar symptoms since Janury, 2008 returning from England with an infection followed by pneumonia. Also had most of your procedures -- I am holding off on the video. The ENT Dr. says I have a paralyzed left vocal cord. This will produce the hoarseness and the coughing. There are a number of possible causes which have to be ruled out which is why you need the tests. Seems that not much can be done for it otherwise -- there is a surgical procedure, (which I don't want). I read that sometimes it just goes away and/or in some cases there is improvement with speech therapy.
    jastrid 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • You're describing my own situation exactly. pH monitoring and barium swallows may not detect laryngeal reflux, which sounds like what you have, also reflux can be non-acid in nature, thus Prevacid etc. would not help in that case. Despite a battery of tests, no one has nailed down my diagnosis either. The only thing they definitively found in my case is a deficiency in IgA, which is a type of antibody, and edema (swelling) in my layrnx. I suspect food intolerance-- which is not an allergy, BTW. Probably milk and wheat, which have large proteins which can cause problems in some people. One study I found shows that the *non-active* ingredient (sodium alginate) in the over-the-counter antacid Gaviscon helps in laryngeal reflux by creating a barrier between the stomach & the esophagus. It seems to help some in my case. But the active ingredients aren't especially good for you in the long run. I'm going to order straight sodium alginate from a food supplier for that reason. The other possibility is that if you have non-acid reflux, you're taking the wrong meds. Baclofen is recommended in non-acid reflux cases. I'm sorry to hear that the fundoplication didn't solve your problem. I've been considering it. I also suspect I may have celiac disease, but it's very hard to diagnose it in IgA deficient people. My test was negative, but that doesn't mean I don't have it. I'd ask to be tested for it if I were you. Good luck!
    aquila 1,263 Replies Flag this Response
  • Thanks for that, aquila. I think I'm going to go on a non-gluten diet for a while. And I'll get checked for that antibody, and for possible celiac disease. Peace and blessings, Dave in L.A.
    DaveinLA 2 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have exactly what you described: it started as a cold lasted several days and then changed into a persistent non-productive cough. The only way to sleep at night was with vicodin. Recently, I have had the feeling of obstruction and thick mucus in the mornings, and if a cough strats, it rapidly progresses to gagging and then choking. I have had no tests yet, but it is uncomfortable and scary. ...and exactly as you describe. I am going for helical CT next week.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 16, 2009
    • 04:07 PM
    • 0
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  • Were you checked for Valley Fever?
    Monsterlove 2,921 Replies
    • January 17, 2009
    • 02:24 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Did you ever get any relief? I'd like to know b/c my mom is suffering from same problem.In September 2006, I had what I thought was a normal cold. It went from the head to the chest. I had a nagging cough that I thought would abate in a short time. Instead, that same cough (dry, squeaky, spasmodic and nonproductive) remains with me to this day. I cannot inhale, laugh, eat, talk or do virtually anything without launching into the cough. It's a deeply embedded reflex sensation. I have frequent intense burning and tickling in the throat, as if a hole somewhere is leaking something (mucus? bile? acid?). I also have a chronic feeling of having to clear phlegm from the throat (globus). I've had numerous tests, all negative. I'm scheduled for a sleep study (I often gag myself awake when lying on my back, as if a ridge or ledge or swollen area is impeding my air flow) and a "virtual bronchoscopy" (a CT scan in lieu of an optic tube inserted by a pulmonary doctor). Could a long-ago virus, bacterium or fungus have silently and invisibly destroyed part of my airway? One ENT physician thinks I have a chronic stubborn case of GERD or LRD, but my 24-hour PH acid tests were unremarkable, as were a battery of swallowing tests (barium, motility, etc.). I had my gallbladder out in 1994 and a fundoplication (esophageal tie-off) surgery in 1995. I had hernia surgery last October. Sinus scans have been negative, as was an MRI of the throat region. An endoscopy and a colonoscopy were both negative, as was a food/dust/pollen allergy panel. I'm banking on the upcoming pulmonary studies to reveal something; if the "virtual bronch" is revelatory, I'll follow up with a regular bronchoscopy. If this is GERD or LRD, then why didn't previous courses of Prevacid and prednisone do anything? I've modified my diet and bought an elevated pillow, but still no relief. Does any or all of this sound familiar to anybody out there? It's really been difficult to live with. Any input would be appreciated.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • August 13, 2009
    • 11:42 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • have had similar symptoms since Janury, 2008 returning from England with an infection followed by pneumonia. Also had most of your procedures -- I am holding off on the video. The ENT Dr. says I have a paralyzed left vocal cord. This will produce the hoarseness and the coughing. There are a number of possible causes which have to be ruled out which is why you need the tests. Seems that not much can be done for it otherwise -- there is a surgical procedure, (which I don't want). I read that sometimes it just goes away and/or in some cases there is improvement with speech therapy.This is extremely similar to my situation. There seems to be some type of infection or tumor obstruction (in an xray) that could be causing the vocal paralysis as it is situated (possibly) on the nerve. A CT with some sort of dye through i.v. will reveal further results. That will likely be followed by a biopsy. The coughing is from the trachea remaining open and exposed. Like running an air conditioner without a filter (somewhat). I am desperate to have my voice back, or the voice of any one else will work just as well. My whole life is on hold it seems. Could you please include any other tests that have been performed? I've also had several blood tests which amounted to nothing other than severe iron deficiency.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 14, 2009
    • 11:08 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
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  • My problem started with a bad cold and cough. (4 months ago) Then developed heavy mucus where I was gagging at night as described by others, feeling sick, and strong pain in my throat with the constant feeling of a hairball. I am taking prilosec 2x per day. I am upset with my HMO -- as no confirming tests being done, no medicine for the mucus and really no advice other than a pamplet. I've been drinking herbal throat coat teas, discontinued any vitamins or minerals, sleep with a humidifier with a menthol vapor, and night time OTC cough medicine. I've read that you should do anything you can to discontinue coughing with LRD as it continues to injure the area. Also no throat clearing. I am slightly improved after 1 month of medication -- doctors say to expect a long recovery
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 1, 2011
    • 07:32 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I was wondering how your symptoms have progressed. I have been on Prilosec 20 mg 2 times per day for 8 months --- with only slight lessening of the symptoms. It seems unbelievable to me that someone does not have some medication that can relieve some of the throat discomfort I feel especially at night. I have osteoporosis and have had a worsening of my neck and lower back pain. In my research, long term prilosec changes the chemistry of the stomach causing a malabsorption of calcium. No one seems to be addressing this. When I asked for something for my throat, my ENT said he is not responsible for giving out prescriptions for making a patient feel more comfortable. Hardly anyone has heard of LRD and constantly give me advice for GERD which is very different. I would really love to hear from someone who has been cured or who has been given something to help with the symptoms which are sometimes terrifying (feeling like throat is collapsing)
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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