Grrr silly tickly cough!

Sorry, just a rant really, I have this silly tickly cough that I can't ignore, I have to cough even though it doesn't relieve the tickle, it's kind of like a reflex. My whole upper body is aching from all the coughing and I keep getting a headache from it! The only other thing that slightly relieves it, is taking a slow deep breath to'overstretch' my lungs. It's so embarrassing being out in public as I sound like I'm making it up as it's just a dry cough but it goes on and on!!

Any suggestions for relief??

6 Replies

  • Oh gosh I know exactly what you mean! I have had a dry tickly cough for the past 14 years (sounds over-dramatic, I know) but it is totally ridiculous because I rarely actually cough anything up, it's just a dry irritation in the back of my throat that is never relieved by coughing. I have recently been referred to a cough clinic and they gave me some brilliant techniques: one is called 'stop cough' and it involves pressing your hand over your mouth and holding your breath as soon as you feel the need to cough (don't actually cough if you can help it!) Then count to ten in your head, breath out slowly, and it should relieve the need to cough. If it doesn't, repeat the technique until it does. It really worked for me!

    Interestingly, the cough clinic consultant told me that inhaled steroids can actually make dry coughs worse, as the residue sits in the back of the throat. Don't know if this applies to you, and I found that the benefits of being on the inhalers make the cough worthwhile anyway! I hope this all makes sense and can help you a little :)

  • Thank you for your reply, I'm so glad someone can relate, it's so annoying so I don't know how you can survive 14 years!!

    I tried your technique but unfortunately holding my breath seems to make the irritation worse, my eyes start streaming and I end up nearly being sick from coughing when I eventually give in to the reflex, oops!! Have you been taught any others??

    I'm currently awake again after another'cycle', it seems I get the tickle, cough and cough then my chest gets tight until eventually I start to produce mucus that I can cough up that seems to sooth the tickle. Trying to drink water between coughs doesn't relieve it, but swallowing mucus does, gross! But then I have a sore chest from coughing and a tight chest from my lungs complaining at me coughing!

    My other half is getting cross at being woken up, and I find it really embarrassing when it happens in public as I just can't stop, I go bright red and my eyes are streaming. I always get this cough after a cold but this time I haven't had or got a cold. It seems there's lots of cough medicines out there targeted at this type of cough, but I bet few of them are recommended for asthmatics. Also codeine which can be used, isn't converted by my body so that won't work!!

    Sorry, I'm ranting, Middle of the night, can't sleep,feeling sorry for myself therefore drivelling!!

  • Don't you worry about that, I completely relate to you! I'm having the same trouble at the moment, coughing and have a very achy chest, so won't be getting much sleep tonight. Ahh I'm sorry my technique made you feel worse! I found it very very hard the first few times but after ploughing through and repeating it and just physically REFUSING to cough I eventually managed to get it a bit more under control. However I've never had streaming eyes with it (only when I'm wheezing and very short of breath, at which point I'm usually calling an ambulance).

    As for other techniques, well, one that I find works when I'm feeling really bad is simply counting my breaths in and out. I'll usually do in for 3 and out for 5 though that varies depending on how well I'm feeling. I'll lie down and focus on breathing from my diaphragm and count every breath, and when I feel the tickle I will keep counting and refuse to let my cough interrupt. Again, it was really really hard to do at first but with perseverance I got it to work most of the time.

    As you say, drinking water really doesn't help with my cough, only with the sore throat the cough gives me! Drinking water can also worsen my lung complaints if I have been coughing lots so I am always wary with how much I drink, though of course it is important to stop your mouth from getting too dry as that just makes you cough more. Other things I could recommend are to try steaming (so filling a bowl with boiling water and breathing in the steam, usually with a tea towel or cloth over your head) as that can help calm the irritation. All these techniques help me to control it, but I should add that even after 14 years of trying I have never successfully got rid of the cough - I'm just a bit better at managing and disguising it! I have also been down the cough medicine route countless times and I have never found anything that works (I got my cough when I was 6, drove my parents crazy so they tried everything under the sun and nothing worked haha). I really hope some of this helps you, and apologies I can't do more but say I certainly do sympathise with you!

  • Ha ha its Ok that it didn't work, I'll try anything!!

    You're other suggestions make sense, especially the regulating breathing one as the more I panic about not coughing when I feel it coming, the more it happens! So the more socially unacceptable the situation, the more likely it is to happen ie in the middle of a clinic at work, when I'm helping at school or like today while my son was having his eyes tested (the optometrist just ignored me, didn't even acknowledge I was practically dying in front of her .... Ok slight exaggeration but you know what I mean!)

  • Just a thought, have you ever thought it could be an allergy? I was google-ing away last for causes of dry tickly coughs, and one cause was allergy. I have over recent years developed a tree pollen allergy and was given ceterizine which did the trick when I take them over the tree pollen season. I had a few knocking about so thought I'd take them for a few days and see if it had any effect on the cough. Fingers crossed!

  • Hahaha, I know what you mean about coughing in social situations, it's sort of hard to explain why you have to go bright red and have an extended coughing fit out in public. Happened to me during an exam at school, disturbed the entire class as well as making me have to retake. Not much fun, so I certainly sympathise!

    Yep, I have been tested for allergies but all came back negative (it was just a blood test though, not a skin prick test and I have never been prescribed anti-histamines). I have my fingers crossed for you that you find something that helps soon!

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