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British Lung Foundation
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Chesty Cough query??

Hi Folks,

I wonder if any of you can advise me? This is my story... I'll keep it brief!

I am male and 51 years of age. I was diagnosed as having Pneumonia in January '16... the X Ray showed clearly that I had the lung infection. My temperature was 39 degrees and I was coughing really badly! I was given a course of really strong antibiotics and a later second chest X Ray came back showing that the Pneumonia had completely cleared! I was relieved to say the least but still uneasy!

The above illness came about as a result of my 5 year old initially coming down with I think a strain of the flu... then my partner got it (not Pneumonia though!)

I then went on and had a further chest infection 2 month later which once again required antibiotics (this was Pneumonia) As I recall a result of a further virus being brought in from the school (other half teaches there too!) This episode I think backed off although I was left with a slight cough!!

Latest situation is that I now have a constant cough - a really bad tickle and I am coughing up mucus, mainly clear with the occasional trace of green stuff. I have since had my chest listened to and there is apparantly no obvious signs of a chest infection!

My symptoms currently are:

Sometimes when I breath in and out I can hear a slight 'rumbling' noise but not all of the time.

I am not breathless (if i am, I have not really noticed anything obvious); I regularly do an high speed walk around a large field and not breathless when I have completed it! However whilst the above setback has been going on I can sometimes hear a slight rumbling noise when I breath out on my walk;

My cough is always worse at night and in the morning, but I don't ever recall being woken up by my cough despite how chronic it can be;

I have never smoked in my life... but did work for a decade or more in a relatively dusty atmosphere (pine saw dust). However this was more part time work and was not every day and I wasn't always exposed to dust all of the time and,

I have never had Asthma before.

Obviously like everyone else on here I am slightly concerned hence the reason why i joined the group.

Bearing in my repeat chest X Ray for Pneumonia was clear, I just wonder if anyone can comment on my above symptoms.

Other information:

Most of my life I have suffered with annoying coughs... some doctors told me that it was a nervous cough, others sinus issues! Lots of foods do not agree with me such as wheat, dairy and most sugars ( most fruits). As a result of my dietry issues I have always been a headache sufferer although recently not had too many headaches since the chest issue has raised its ugly head!

I am stressed out with it all to be honest - I know its not lung cancer because the X Ray was clear. However my other fear is COPD! Of course it could be Asthma but no shortness of breath?

My GP practice told me that I have just been unlucky to have a series of chest infections but this latest setback seems different to me?

Has anyone been/is in a similar boat to me?

Thank you in advance for all your time and help...


20 Replies

Hello Steve and welcome to the group!

Has your GP offered to do any testing of your lungs? A spirometry, or Pulmonary Function Test is easy to do and will show many things as to how your lungs are working. I just had my annual follow up one done yesterday and got the results right away. I hope this helps you some.


Hi, thanks for your post :) I hope you a satisfactory result recently... I have not seen a GP since my bout of pneumonia in January/february time earlier this year. Last time a saw my GP was to get my x ray result which showed a clear reading for pneumonia. Since then its been the nurses listening to my chest, my latest setback not showing any audible signs of a chest infection despite going back twice in 10 days. Been told that this latest setback is more likely to be viral related rather than bacterial which caused the pneumonia and second chest infections. I scared of facing the spiro test tbh!


Yes my results inched up in a good direction, thanks. The test is easy. This is the simple explanation of the test. I sat in a clear chamber which was open most of the time except for a three minute portion of the test. You are coached as to how and when to breath. You inhale and blow through a tube at different rates. A computer then measures this and translates the levels of function within your lungs.

It was about 20 minutes long the second time for me. The first time is a little longer as they repeat most of it after you use an inhaler half way through. This gets a before and after reading which can help to decide a difference of asthma, copd, or additional airway disease. The longer initial test also creates a baseline for future tests to compare with. As in mine, the newest one improved a couple points. It is best done when you are well but do ask your health workers about it.

Many great replies here and you will see more. Try not to let this all get to your nerves. I sure did in my beginning but the fine folk here helped me to be calm again and not sweat the unknown so much.


Thanks Pete for your kind response... If the cough continues I will have no option than to go back and have further tests. I will update you :) ps I also have a condition known as Menieres Disease fior which I have taken histamine for 11 years now and quite a high dose! I often wonder if the long term medication for my ear condition is finally causing me to have side effects? It is not noted for causing bad side effects but I guess that any long term treatment can cause problems later! (Betahistine Tablets). Catch you soon... will keep an eye out for further posts on here... :)


You can Google the side effects of the meds you are talking. It may be that they are causing the cough, hope you get it sorted ok.


Hi have you had a spirometry test? This is usually done to diagnose copd. If you haven't then you need to ask for one.

The other thing which occurred to me is that you can be intolerant to loads of foods ie my sister (who doesn't have any lung problems) had a dry quite intense cough for many years. She cut our all dairy foods and reintroduced them gradually and found out that she is in tolerant to milk and ice cream. Since she has cut those out of her diet her cough has gone completely.

Dairy foods, whilst not causing mucus, can make it thicker and harder to cough up, so it might be best to either cut down on it and see if it makes a difference. Drinking more water helps to thin mucus down. x


Hi, thanks for your message :) Just feeling stressed out this out evening... however I always think the worst no matter what is going on lol foods like dairy give me a build up of chronic mucus and guaranteed bad headaches!! I only ever have a spot of milk in my tea and always avoid dairy as much as I can! Same with wheat. Re alcohol, its odd really cos I have never been an heavy drinker but for the passed 6 months I had one or two tins of beer every evening! I noticed my cough gradually become worse and worse whilst drinking and when I got the bacterial pneumonia I quite drinking for good! Part of me thinks that the drink may have somehow contributed to my pneumonia but hard to say as this was a time when there was flu in the house. I know however that alcohol does not agree with me. I have not had as much as a sip of alcohol since January 2016. Thank you for taking the time to reply, I do appreciate it :)


You are welcome. It is never a good idea to cut out a whole food group as we all need some dairy in our diet. Dairy foods do NOT cause mucus, just makes it thicker and harder to cough up. x


You could try ringing the BLF Helpline and talking to the respiratory nurses - they work office hours and can be reached on 03000 030 555.


oddly enough was going to call this number but i was an hour too late. I suppose it may help reassure me a bit more (hopefully!) Many thanks :)

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Hi Hidden you have been given some good advice. Lung Function tests (Spirometery) aren't anything to be concerned about and they will tell you so much about the condition of your lungs. They could also eliminate lung problems as the cause of your cough so that other causes can be looked into.

You have already mentioned intolerance to certain food and this may need exploring in more detail.

Try not to worry. I know, easier said than done. Thinking the worst all the time won't do you any good. Far better to have a positive attitude.

I do hope you get to bottom of things soon.

Regards. John

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Hi and welcome, I had double pneumonia some years ago, and I know my cough continued for a long time afterwards.

I too find dairy products make me worse, cheese and chocolate give me migraine with aura and sinus problems.

You say your X-ray is clear, no sign of pneumonia, but you sometimes cough up green stuff.....could you ask for a sputum bottle from your GP so that it can be be tested to see if any bugs are lurking in your lungs. There is a ' huffing technique ' which you can try which helps bring up any mucus . I think you tube has a video. ..try and take a green coloured sample for testing not the clear.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.....try not to get too stressed, easy to say I know, but stress can effect breathing. Try gentle belly breathing with a relaxed diaphragm ....through the nose only so that the air can be filtered and warmed.


Hello and welcome. You've had lots of good advice and I do hope you get things sorted out soon. Make a plan and follow some of these suggestions - doing something can often help reduce the worrying we all get up to at times.

Take care. Sue x


Welcome to the group newosa


Just to share my personal experience. I was coughing my head off at night and I was less able to walk without be short of breath before I went to the doctor and they did the pulmonary function tests on me to find I had copd/emphysema at a severe level. It is scary at first but then you get used to it and it is way less scary. But sinuses can cause a lot of troubles too so don't despair! There is help for whatever you have!

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Thank you folks for your kind responses. Just to update you all... been to see my GP today and he's tested me for Asthma (blowing into a unit) and my reading was 550, whatever that means? Anyway he told me that it looks as if I don't have Asthma which I think he expected me to have. He has also given me a tube to do a sputum test which I have to return in the morning. Also he has requested the spiro test which you all have mentioned on here. This is done at the GP practice by a nurse but there is a 4 week wait now! I will take along the inhaler on the day which is needed for the test.

The GP seems to think that I have nothing sinister going on - he has given me a course of antacids as he has a feeling that my vocal cords are being irritated by my occasional heartburn, causing the chronic tickle and cough! I have to say that I hardly have heartburn, only occasionally do I suffer. However I will do what he's asked me to do and see if my cough improves?!

Still uneasy about having the spiro testing done! I did a google on COPD in the USA and something like 10 million people have the problem and 10 million has it and don't know they have it?! This is really scary...

Hi Punkyb - thank you for submitting your post (and thanks to everyone else too)... I just wondered however what caused your COPD? If its amongst your posts I will take a read later :))



Hi Steve, Sounds like a good plan of action. We all need to start somewhere and it sound like your doc wants to figure this out with you.

Don’t let the test or statistics bother you. Think of the test like any med that you might take. It is something done to aid in finding a resolution or treatment to get you better. The statistics seem huge but so is the number of baby boomers who do or did smoke. 75% of COPD is said to be caused by smoking.

Those that don’t know of their own illness yet are like me a year ago. I thought I was just getting older and out of shape, slowing down. I was wrong blaming my unknown illness on age. Google can be useful in finding reliable sources for anything but also there is a lot to be found which can scare anyone.

Take care, Pete :)


Let us know how the tests go. and Your welcome. I was a smoker and have stage 3 emphysema.


Hi Steve

I went to my go fifteen years ago with an embarrassing cough. The consultant at the hospital first told me it could be asthma but when the inhalers made no difference I had a ct scan which showed I Have bronchiectasis. This lung condition can only be diagnosed from a ct scan Also my lungs often sound clear using a stethoscope even though they are never actually completely clear.


Knitter talks about "Huffing". I think she means Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT). I have sarcoidosis and have phegm on my lungs. (I do not think you could have sarcoidosis as it shows very clearly on X-rays.) For four years now I have done Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT) - also known as huffing, taught to me by hospital physiotherapist every morning and evening to help cough up the phlegm more easily and consequently I hardly cough at all. If I don’t do it at night I can’t lie down. It takes time but it is really worth it. I also have a nebuliser with prescribed 7% salt solution from capsules which I use for ten minutes or so before I do the ACBT to loosen the phlegm but this may not be necessary for you..

You could ask your doctor to see a physiotherapist (I expect it would take some time to get an appointment), but in the meantime here is some instruction on ACBT. There are others in the internet. papworthhospital.nhs.uk/doc...

ALSO I also keep a packet of Fisherman's Friend cough sweets with me at all times as if I get a tickle in my throat, the menthol in them takes away the urge to cough. I hope this helps.


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