Asthma UK community forum

Trying not to cough aargghh

No real purpose to this...just wondered if anyone else has been told to try to suppress their coughing and had the awful 'itch' as a result? The physio congratulated me yesterday on how good my suppression was getting (spent much of appt making awful faces and somehow managing not to cough) - but it's SO tempting! Feels like trying not to scratch an itch, or possibly dying for a cigarette (have never smoked but it's that urge to do something you know is bad for you). Chest just feels really inflamed/irritated and is driving me nuts - and cough had pretty much gone before last week's random flare-up and now the cold weather brought it back.

Anyway sorry for that little rant, just wanted to get it off my chest in writing if not in reality! Hope others are doing ok and are relatively cough-free even in this weather.

12 Replies

Urgh, how awful - I've never been told this, but thought I'd give it a go (managed a whole 10 seconds!!), but see what you mean about that 'itch' - it really is like a scab wanting to be itched - so based on that I would say distraction is your best option. Activities that you have to concentrate on and so are less likely to 'think' about your cough if that makes sense? How about two-handed tennis - requires lots of concentration and should leave your brain too confused to cough. Or else it'll bring on a coughing fit through laughter/exercise. Hmm, maybe not.

Can they give you anything to help supress the cough - I know codeine is a cough supressent and I suspect there's less strong options, even some over the counter cough syrups that aren't really medicinal could help - or is the idea that you suppress the cough by thought alone?


Thanks Ratty! Lol at the two-handed tennis, though now trying not to laugh as well (and would definitely be laughing, my attempts at one-handed tennis are bad enough!)

The idea is apparently for me to use willpower - like all physios mine has a sadistic streak and this is where it shows itself (oh, and in her making me do the bleep test yesterday - luckily just walking, couldn't have done running). She suggested swallowing (you can't cough and swallow at the same time, I guess this is where the glass of water thing comes from) or focusing intensely on something as a distraction - clearly Excel Intermediate Data training doesn't work well enough as a distraction. I am better at it than I was when I started - managed to almost get rid of my 11-month cough before it came back with a vengeance. Sadly cough syrups etc don't seem to work - tried those before including codeine on prescription and nada. Perhaps if I ever manage to get a set of preventers that work it will go.

In the meantime, maybe a game of battleships would work...can you play battleships over a forum I wonder?


Why on earth is your physio trying to get you to suppress your coughs?!

Whenever I see them, they tell me I'm not coughing enough! It's far better to get it all up, then leave the gunk sitting there!


hi philomela

I also have physio sometimes cause I have difficulty coughing up phlegm , so i do breathing excersises to help with that but she has never told me to surpress my coughing, did your physiotherapist tell you why you should be surpressing it? sounds really difficult!


me too! my physio always tells me to ""practice"" my cough more than anything! except if it is a very dry cough, never bringing up any gunk. in that case, i have been told it could damage vocal cords/lungs? did she actually give you an explanation? id be interested to hear it!


An explanation other than that she's a sadist? lol Actually it's because mine never is productive. I had/have had it for about 11 months (thought it had gone away grr), sometimes it feels like something wants to come up but it never does, mostly it is from the chest but not gunky if that makes sense (she has told me that if I start getting gunk there she will help me with that and that will involve actively coughing).

However, atm I need to try and stop the dry cough - physio told me the more I cough, the more I irritate my lungs and the more I will want to cough so I have to suppress the urge to cough. Have to say it's bloody difficult though especially atm with the cold weather, which really seems to have stirred things up and inflamed them so am sitting here absolutely dying to just cough and cough and cough! Have no idea how I am managing not to most of the time but it does get easier not to with practice, though the feeling is just as bad.


Philomena, I know exactly what you mean. My job involves a lot of work on the telephone and you can almost guarantee that the only time I want to cough is when I'm talking to a client. It's absolute torture. Thankfully, most of our clients know me well and aren't offended when I mutter something about coughing, sorry, call you back when I can talk again ......

By the way, if you want some nice Excel as a distraction, you could try the reconciliation I'm trying to deal with today - I've got to the stage where I'm highlighting rows in different colours to indicate different questions. Pink means 'why is this here?', yellow is 'Where did THAT come from?' and (my favourite) blue is 'what idiot did this?'. None of it helps very much, but it is quite pretty!

Take care



Yes, it always comes when you're on the phone, doesn't it? I'm lucky in that at least I don't have to talk on the phone too much, and I am actually quite good at keeping it down somehow - though it does make me feel slightly murderous when physio/GP congratulate me on not coughing as I want to scream at them that I feel like I've swallowed the proverbial burning bush.

I like your Excel colour scheme idea - maybe I should do that. I have one spreadsheet that gets passed round to fill out and someone always does something annoying on it (dark purple fill with black writing, inventing new categories despite me telling them that they have to stick with the ones on there as they correspond with the ones on the system...). Grrr. I want a 'what idiot did this?' colour. Good luck with your suppression!


My physio recommended frozen green grapes when I was coughing a lot. Apparently there is something in them which helps but you have to suck them like a sweet. Surprisingly it did work and frozen grapes are quite refreshing. My GP just told me to try and surpress the cough which made it a lot worse.


Hmm interesting about the grapes Sam62 - is your cough a dry one like mine? I might get some grapes and give it a go, though I love them and might end up eating them all before they get frozen... Can see the logic in the suppression but it does feel horrible.

B, sounds nasty - have you seen a physio? They ought to be able to help you with getting the gunk up - I believe some people on here have mentioned a device called a flutter which helps get gunk up? Or maybe you saw a physio and it didn't help - I've seen 2 before who were lovely but not helpful but to be fair, they were trying to deal with the wrong problem due to the consultant's misdiagnosis.


Inhalers frequently cause me to cough!

Anyone else get this?


Sometimes - not that often but have occasionally coughed with them.


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