British Lung Foundation

Coughing fits for 7-8 years

My Brother has had a cough for 7 years non-stop. He has never smoked, is mot a drinker and he is in fairly good health for his age of 74. It breaks my heart to hear him cough and I cant imagine what it does to him. He lived abroad and saw many specialists and had many tests. He was told there was fluid coming from his lungs which they think is causing the cough. A lot of mucous is brought up when he coughs.

He is now living back in the UK, has seen a specialist and has to have some procedure in September.

No doctor or specialist has gotten to the bottom of this yet.

If anyone has been successful in finding a cure please let me know.

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It's extremely hard not to worry but I'm sure that the consultant he has seen will get to the bottom of it in September and that's not very far away. In my personal view, if the procedure was required earlier it would be done earlier so in some way I think that's quite a good sign. I've coughed for two years and they are still trying to sort me out. I do understand how worrying it is and it's easy for me to say 'try not to worry' but very hard to do. I worry too xx

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Hi NatPam, We are not doctors on here and so can't diagnose. However, there is a condition called bronchiectasis and your brother's symptoms sound typical of this. If so, it can be treated and controlled and he can have a much better quality of life than he has now. There are many lung conditions which cause a cough and mucus though and so it is very good that he is going to a consultant. Hopefully with breathing tests, xrays and a ct scan he can find out what is causing his problems and begin to get on top of it.

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As littlepom says we are not medics. Lots of us read as many articles as we can, listen and learn. This is just a non medic thought. Sometimes persistent coughs can be very difficult to diagnose. I read in a medical journal a thoracic specialist writing thst in his experience such a cough when all normal treatment and diagnoses fails, it could be caused by acid reflux. Even though your brother msy not suffer with any symptoms like heartburn it could be stomach acid causing a reflex cough. Worth enquiring with GP.

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Like many others, I to had a persistent debilitating cough which was accompanied by quite sever breathlessness, for over two years. I had a number of test which pointed to Asthma but no test gave a defined diagnoses, other conditions like COPD and heart problems were ruled out.

A Scan showed pulmonary nodules but thankfully Cancer was ruled out the nodfules being caused by sever and prolonged inflammation, I was totally fatigue through coughing, fighting for breath and inability to sleep. Various medications were prescribed but nothing eased my symptoms, finally probably out of desperation the Consultant prescribed Forstair (for Asthma) and Omeprozol ( anti acid medication) and miracle of miracles I have no coughing what's so ever no wheezing and life now I feel is worth living. The down side I am still very breathless and find even the slightest exertion, the consultant wants me to have E.N.T investigations so here we go again with tests. I know how awful yulur brother must feel and how worried you are but bang on there till Sept and who knows perhaps he will also get his own miracle medicine. Good Luck to you both. Sorry this post is a bit lengthy🍀🍀

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I have written the following to several other people on Healthunlocked and I apologise if people have read this before.

I have a lung condition (sarcoidosis) and produce a lot of phlegm every day. I wonder if the following would help your brother. To clear my lungs of phlegm every morning and before bed I do Active Cycle of Breathing technique (ACBT) which was taught to me by a physiotherapist to cough it up and then I don't cough during the day. If I don't do ACBT at nighttime my lungs "rattle" and can't lie down.

There is lots on the internet, especially Youtube, teaching Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT); I was taught by a physiotherapist to do it lying down on each side but it can be done sitting up.

Also he could ask to see a hospital physiotherapist who could assess him to see if he would be suitable for a nebuliser. They are not very expensive to buy. After seeing a physiotherapist, I am prescribed individual ampoules containing 7% salt solution which I put in the nebuliser and which produce ‘steam’ to loosen the mucus and make it easier to cough up.

Or he could put his head over a bowl of very hot water with a towel over his head to loosen the mucus which I used to do before I had my nebuliser. I also have a Flutter device which I bought which helps if the phlegm occasionally gets particularly stuck (Look on the internet to explain what this is). There is also a device called an acapella which is similar.

I never go anywhere without a packet of Fisherman's Friend (includes menthol and eucalyptus), as if I do feel the urge to cough I suck one (a very strong taste so takes some getting use to) and the urge usually disappears.

* One last thing. My phlegm is white, but I have been told that if it goes yellow or green that may mean I have an infection and I should ask my doctor's receptionist for a little pot, cough in to it (in private!), and the doctor will send it to the local hospital for analysis to know which is the best antibiotic to fight it.

I am also on oxygen 20 hours out of 24 but that is easy to manage.

I hope this all helps.

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