British Lung Foundation

So very scared right now!

Hello everyone

I am truly very frightened at the moment - I have been coughing non-stop for the past 2-3 weeks with a funny shoulder ache, I am 36, f and smoker (bad I know, but have cut right down to 2-3 a day now with the intention of stopping).

I woke up the Saturday just passed and now my neck hurts as if I have pulled something whenever I move it which sometimes radiates to the left shoulder.

I saw my GP last week Thursday and she said I could have reflux (I was diagnosed with Reflux last year & I had a chest xray too as the same cough appeared then)

It feels like there are ants crawling all over my throat and voicebox (this is the only way I can describe it) and when I breathe in its like I am breathing through a straw at times which then makes my throat itchy or scratchy in turn....

I am petrified I now have lung cancer or the cancer was missed on the xray last year.... I am Going out of my mind, I do suffer with severe Health Anxiety but this is really worrying me now!

11 Replies

Hi, the BLF have a helpline open during office may help you a bit to talk over your fears with someone. That's if you live in the UK.

Tel 03000 030 555

Have you tried breathing gently through your nose ....not your that the air you breathe is warmed and filtered....and from your belly with a relaxed diaphragm.

Did you tell your GP of your worries ...if you find breathing difficult it's best to go back .


Hello Kayanne , sorry to hear you are frightened and scared . It sounds like you may have hurt your throat coughing and that's why it feels like there's ants running about in there . Can you make a warm honey drink to soothe it a little .

Perhaps you have strained your neck as that is quite easy to do especially if you are feeling anxious and tensed up.

I think you could be worrying a lot about cancer because of smoking but not everyone gets cancer because of that.

Please see a doctor and tell him/her how you are feeling. Wishing wellness for you, huff x

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Hi,. As a long term sufferer of Reflux I can understand your anxiety about your cough and throat.......It will pass, but you need to do certain things.

First watch your diet. Nothing fancy ,but STOP drinking coffee , and leave out Tomatoes and any food with tomato sauce , anything containing vinegar, just think about all the pickles and sauces ,citrus fruit , chocolate ......That's the start.............Try eating smaller meals but more often.

Try raising the head of your bed on a couple of house bricks ,so you sleep at an angle.

I don't eat in the evening after 6 pm, and my last drink is at 9 pm.

Lastly try not to worry.



Hi Jo

Thank you for your advice...may I ask, did you cough also and did you always feel the acid come up?

I feel the acid every now and then.....probably once a fortnight, so I am somewhat confused with it all as if you do not feel it does it mean there is no reflux?


There's something called a. Silent reflux......You can have acid coming up without feeling any discomfort and unless it burns the back of the throat or you taste it you wouldn't know it had happened.

If you need to bend down ....Don't bend from the waist , bend from the knees....... Don't have tight clothes around your waist.

The cough is often caused by a small amount of acid coming up while your laid down and a small amount trickles back into the trachea ( wind pipe) this causes irritation and you cough and cough.

Now any information you need ,please ask. It's not trouble.


PS.. forgot to say no alcohol.....Sorry.


Hi again Jo

Thank you - I feel so much more relieved that someone else has this too...I am thinking that I might have lung cancer I am so scared with this cough all the throat gets so cry and when I breathe in its starts causing irritation which in turn makes me cough....its a nightmare! My GP last year gave me PPI's to try, I tried them for about 2 weeks and gave seemed to go but now come back, the GP has prescribed PPi's for me again and I am yet to try them, I know smoking does not help me either but I am really trying to cut down which I have during the day.

Sometimes I feel kind of asthmatic like i am wheezing from my voicebox, it sounds tight, is this usual?

Thanks again and sorry for all the questions.


Don't worry about the questions ....Been there done that 😁.

If you can give up the ciggys ..great ....It will help. But with reflux you have to change your lifestyle. Stay away from the Curry's, garlic, spices .....

To be honest I am my own worse enemy.

My tum will be wonderful , then like last weekend I ate tomatoes .... Yes I am suffering at the moment.

Stick with the PPI s. Take them regularly, don't be tempted to stop. You will find with a reasonable diet ,they work well.......My other best friend is Gaviscon liquid Particularly last thing at night.,and I always have the tablets with me.



Sorry that you're feeling so badly however you received good information, I definitely can relate to what you're feeling because I suffer with acid reflux also, it's important that you stop smoking because this can intensify the reflux, no coffee, small meals, and it's extremely imperative that you do not lay down after you eat, well at least wait a couple of hours okay? Also you need to prop your head up on a couple of pillows when you do sleep, spicy foods are bad for reflux. If you can Google all the information about acid reflux that will be great. I've had acid reflux for the past 13 years it comes and goes, cannot use the medication because of the side effects, oh I forgot to tell you if you will lose weight especially in your stomach( like my gastrologist told me, and it worked for me and when I gain some of the weight back the acid reflux came back) yes I went through the coffin. All that you describe your going through well the majority of your symptoms that your having now. So give it a try see if it'll help along with stop smoking oh yeah and no fried foods.... get back to us if you need help will always be here for you good luck God bless stay healthy

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Hi Jo

Thanks again, see for me, I do not feel the discomfort in the chest however when the acid does reach my voicebox I get woken from sleep and half choking, the taste is vile!

Do you think that acid can make my throat feel all dry and tight? Is the scratching and tickling from the irritation of the acid? Do you not think that because this has been happening so long it cant be reflux, I mean, I surely cannot reflux every night (surely)? just a thought. I got an immense sore throat a few weeks ago also and last year when this all started my throat hurt for ages, funnily enough I had a scope down my throat and the GP said it was normal so still confused with the whole reflux thing if I am honest.


That's. Silent reflux. .. You don't have to have heartburn ...*

...and Yes your throat will be very uncomfortable

I often say it feels as if I am swallowing razor blades, yet everything else is ok.

You do not have anything nasty or sinister in illness. So stop fretting.

Worry and anxiety can make it a whole lot worse.

What do you have just before bedtime.......Think carefully about all you eat and drink .......Be honest .......What did you have yesterday and last evening/ night.?.



My throat used to get sore but now its just tight and dry and hurts when I try move it (if that makes sense)

Monday I ate a salad with about 2 tomatoes for lunch, for dinner I seriously overate, I had all sorts of stuff (chicken, beef in rich sauces) loads of veg, then I had some chocolate whilst in bed. I have 3-4 pieces of fruit during the day also. For drinks I have a few cups of weak coffee, I drink zero fanta soft drink before bed also.

Yesterday had a sandwich for lunch and then for dinner I had pork in chinese sauce with potato and peas but then I sat eating chocolate in bed again (SO VERY wrong I know) with a can of diet pepsi.


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