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Old 04.01.2015, 22:16
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Cough - for months

Hi,

my mother (born 1948, living in Germany) has had a persistent cough for weeks, sometimes months. Mostly, it prevents her from getting a good night's sleep, causing sleep-deprivation.
Then it gets better for some time, only to return.
This has been going for years - though because I've not spent much time at home, I can't say for sure myself.

For a long time, I've not done much about this myself - my mother can usually care for herself after all and there didn't seem much I could do, anyway.

As such, I don't have much "hard" data like:
- when did symptoms start to show
- when was a doctor subsequently consulted
- what was the diagnosis
- drug prescribed (if any)
- how long was it taken
- did it help

etc.pp.

She has been seeing a lot of doctors over the years, but none has been able to find a root cause.
Everybody, including the various doctors, is a a loss now on how to continue.

Because she's suffering a lot from this, I've now taken a bit of interest in the matter, trying to "connect the dots".
Also, I had a cough this summer, too, that prevented me from sleeping much. That really opened my eyes.

Before engaging yet another specialist (I'm leaning towards taking her to USZ), I would really like to bring together all the "insular" work done by the various doctors.
She has (courtesy of my Dad being a civil servant) private health insurance that might pay at least part of a visit to a Swiss doctor.

I've now seen that it's possible to get your file from your doctor (in Germany at least). So I've basically advised her to collect all the files from all the doctors she went to over the years.

There aren't many avenues that haven't been tried yet (one that came to mind is engaging a mold-sniffing dog to find any hidden mold in the rooms - haven't gotten any pricing and the health-insurance is unlikely to pay for that).

Purpose of this post? I don't really know myself.
Maybe you know something, know a forum where coughing people gather ;-)
Maybe you know a good doctor.

I guess I also want to avoid this sad "if only I had done more" feeling once more that I had standing at the coffin of my grandmother.
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Old 04.01.2015, 22:51
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Re: Cough - for months

Was acidic reflux ruled out?
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Old 04.01.2015, 22:52
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Re: Cough - for months

Does the cough go away when she is sleeping in a different bed? It could be the bedding and / or the mattress, causing an allergic cough.
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Old 04.01.2015, 22:56
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Re: Cough - for months

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Was acidic reflux ruled out?

My question exactly. Is her cough only at night? When she sits up is it better?
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Old 04.01.2015, 22:56
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Re: Cough - for months

Hello Rainer,
I had something like this several years ago. Here just some small things that were helpful for me:

1) turning away from white sugar and learning to live with hot spices has dramatically improved my health situation, amazing results

2) google for Sun Breeze. It is an expensive peppermint like oil, very strong and healthy. Good for the lungs. I use it daily, its worth the price.

3) Asbest in the living room can be a reason for coughing. Usually around the chimney. Everybody will tell you: No no Asbest has never been used in building this house, but my guess is most of this is a lie. Asbest problems are more common than we like to know.

Good luck!
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Old 04.01.2015, 23:00
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Re: Cough - for months

Hirslanden hospital chain has an excellent lung clinic here in Bern. Perhaps they have an affiliate clinic near you where your mother could get some more extensive testing done?
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Old 04.01.2015, 23:03
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Was acidic reflux ruled out?
AFAIK, reflux is what (most, if not all) doctors suspect is causing it.
But she said she has stopped taking the acid-regulator-pills two days ago and the cough (well, the symptoms) got better.

If doctors can't find an obvious cause, they'll eventually send you down the "it must be psychiatric" road.

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Does the cough go away when she is sleeping in a different bed? It could be the bedding and / or the mattress, causing an allergic cough.
Good question.
She rarely changes the bed.
But I think she also coughs when she's sleeping on the sofa.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 05.01.2015 at 15:55. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 04.01.2015, 23:28
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Re: Cough - for months

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Hello Rainer,
I had something like this several years ago. Here just some small things that were helpful for me:

1) turning away from white sugar and learning to live with hot spices has dramatically improved my health situation, amazing results

2) google for Sun Breeze. It is an expensive peppermint like oil, very strong and healthy. Good for the lungs. I use it daily, its worth the price.

3) Asbest in the living room can be a reason for coughing. Usually around the chimney. Everybody will tell you: No no Asbest has never been used in building this house, but my guess is most of this is a lie. Asbest problems are more common than we like to know.

Good luck!

Interesting.
6x5.2g Sun Breeze = 100 CHF.
Ouch.
;-)

White sugar is surely a problem. While not directly consumed, it's contained in all the cakes she makes and all the home-made jams...
Hot spices - well, my father hates them ...

House was built in 1980/1981.
Will ask my dad about it. But he's got no problems (of that sort...).
Seems one can have dust examined for a modest price.


Thanks.
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Old 04.01.2015, 23:38
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Re: Cough - for months

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Hirslanden hospital chain has an excellent lung clinic here in Bern. Perhaps they have an affiliate clinic near you where your mother could get some more extensive testing done?
Ah, yes.
I see that I was on their site, actually, researching.

http://www.hirslanden-bibliothek.ch/...ischer-husten/

They've got a branch in Zurich, it seems.

http://www.hirslanden.ch/global/de/s...&search=Suchen

Only saw Hirslanden mentioned here in connection with maternity, so I never bothered to look into what else they can do besides delivering babies ;-)

I should have added that my parents live about an hour's drive away from Zurich. It's Germany, but very close to the Swiss border.
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Old 04.01.2015, 23:39
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Re: Cough - for months

My sister has coughed for years. And the docs in the UK diagnosed an untreatable nasal drip. I can't believe its untreatable….
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Old 04.01.2015, 23:49
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Re: Cough - for months

Mine comes and goes, was far worse with certain BP meds.

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My sister has coughed for years. And the docs in the UK diagnosed an untreatable nasal drip. I can't believe its untreatable….
In my case, certain BP meds resulted in more nasel drip, hence the cough.

Tom
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Old 05.01.2015, 00:04
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Re: Cough - for months

Had this after flew I got a couple of years ago. Lost part of Geschmacksinn for some months, and also hearing was weaker for a Long period of time. The doctors said that some nerves might have been affected and that it takes time to rebuild them. Thank Good they were right, and got also rid of the cough after a year.


Think I've been one of the best customers in the pharmacy's for cough sirup.
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Old 05.01.2015, 00:47
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Re: Cough - for months

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Ah, yes.
I see that I was on their site, actually, researching.

http://www.hirslanden-bibliothek.ch/...ischer-husten/

They've got a branch in Zurich, it seems.

http://www.hirslanden.ch/global/de/s...&search=Suchen

Only saw Hirslanden mentioned here in connection with maternity, so I never bothered to look into what else they can do besides delivering babies ;-)

I should have added that my parents live about an hour's drive away from Zurich. It's Germany, but very close to the Swiss border.
I actually went to the Lungenzentrum at the Hirslanden in Zürich and they were (and continue to be) very good. I can recommend them, in particular Dr. Klingler.
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Old 05.01.2015, 01:37
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Re: Cough - for months

You need data on her, meaning...

Personal hygiene: How (and how often) she cleans her clothes, bed, herself and her home and products used.

Diet.

What perfume etc she uses on herself and the air fresheners and herbal bags etc around the home.

Pets and the effects of pet hair etc.

What, if anything has changed shortly before the coughing occurs. I.E. visitors, time of year (pollens from a plant outside? or nearby her home?) etc.

Solving these issues is all about being a detective. Detectives look for all possibilities and they also look for evasive answers. I:E. is she consuming something shortly before the coughing?

My brother had a physical issue some years back and it turned out that he unknowingly avoided giving a honest answer about a particular habit which he thought was not relevant but turned out to be the cause.

Detectives are brutal but they have to be to get to the root cause. I am not saying that she is hiding something. All I am saying is that the best way to solve such problems is to leave emotion at the door (within reason of course) and find the cause.

Doctors can only work with the information that they have. If you dont cover all the bases then the chances of a Doctor finding the solution decreases. Blood tests etc are only part of the process of gathering data. The most important issue is to explain to her that she needs to go into great depth regarding her life, routine etc.
Type up a questionaire which lists everything she does, everything she consumes and everything that effects her. Take your time doing this. If the questionaire is only 1 page then keep going untill it is pages long. Thing about the big picture, not just her but her sourroundings and where she goes. Conduct research on foods, perfumes etc. Books may need to be bought and read and forums visited and visited again. When my Brother finaly got his act together and did this the specialist immediately identified the problem. It took my brother about a year to do all this. But in the end it was worth it.

Good luck.
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Last edited by Jack of all trades.; 05.01.2015 at 01:52. Reason: more information.
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Old 05.01.2015, 07:40
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Re: Cough - for months

Smoker? Or someone who smokes in the house?

My mum had a bout of pneumonia and then a cough that went on for years... My sister and I thought she might have lung cancer!

We took her to a new doctor, one we like ourselves, and he put her on a three week programme of heavy steriods/anti-inflammatory, to reduce the inflammation., then sent her for chest x-rays and further investigation. He said without the steroids to reduce the inflammation it would be difficult to see what was going on underneath, they then took swabs to find any underlying infection... Turned out there wasn't anything, and whatever treatment she had after that (may have included some physio)... Worked...

She now gets the same cough only when ill...

We have family members who also have a 'behavioural' throat clearer in our household...
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Old 05.01.2015, 08:47
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Re: Cough - for months

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White sugar is surely a problem. While not directly consumed, it's contained in all the cakes she makes and all the home-made jams....
It's also a major constituent of brown sugar and raw sugar.

White sugar is simply cleaned raw sugar - cleaned of insect parts, rat excrement, etc, and treacle (molasses). Some brown sugar is made from white sugar by adding treacle. Some treacle is made from white sugar with added water, colourant and flavourings.
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Old 05.01.2015, 09:27
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Re: Cough - for months

Your symptoms sounds similar to what my friend had for years only turn out to be initial stage of Tuberculosis. Does she also have a mild fever or fatigue???
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Old 05.01.2015, 09:39
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Re: Cough - for months

Hope she finds an answer. Coughing sucks.

It's important to know when this started - was she ill before, could this be leftover from pneumonia, walking pnemonia, respiratory infection.

It could be acid reflux, or a drug reaction - ace inhibitors (bp meds) have as a side effect coughing in some people.

It could be an allergy or sensitivity.

Could be any number of weird autoimmune things - has she had a chest x-ray?

Might be structural - does she have a low soft palate in her mouth.

Definitely contact a lung clinic for a work up, i hope they figure something out.
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Old 05.01.2015, 09:41
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Re: Cough - for months

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AFAIK, reflux is what (most, if not all) doctors suspect is causing it.
But she said she has stopped taking the acid-regulator-pills two days ago and the cough (well, the symptoms) got better.

If doctors can't find an obvious cause, they'll eventually send you down the "it must be psychiatric" road.
Actually one of the side effects if some if the anti reflux medications is a cough so the medicine could be exacerbating the problem. I think proton pump inhibitors ( like omeprazole) are the ones most likely to cause a cough so maybe try a different type? An h2 antagonist for example.( eg ranitidine)

If reflux is causing her to cough it may be worth trying a different drug to treat it and see that makes any difference.
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Old 11.01.2015, 19:13
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Re: Cough - for months

I'm sorry if this was mentioned already, but, curiously, is your mother on any kind of blood pressure medications? I know there are some (ACE inhibitors) that can cause a persistent/chronic cough.

Also, I'm sure someone here has already mentioned that your mother should probably get a CT scan or chest X-ray. Perhaps also a mammogram. I saw a lecture recently in which the speaker's mother had a chronic cough for quite some time and then learned she had breast cancer.

I certainly hope that's not the case with your mother, though, and I do hope she improves and is feeling better very soon!
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