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Oesophageal Patients Association
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The four year cough!!!

Hi peeps,

I am 50 yo, 4.5 years post op and still coughing. I rarely get GERD or reflux at night but I'm sure most of you are familiar with this, when the acid in your stomach enters the trachea while you're asleep. There is some confusion as to whether this is reflux or GERD but either way it's horrendous. I feel like my lungs are on fire, can barely breath and am left coughing and heaving for about two hours, spitting out a bright orange acidic phlegm. This leaves me feeling tired, sore and sick for about two days after.

Apart from that I live a very healthy life. I train 4/5 times a week, have a very healthy diet and, according to a recent CT Scan, am still in the clear. However I have a constant cough. I seem to be producing a never ending supply of clear, loose phlegm. It's worse in the mornings and improves after exercise, but I am exacerbated and wondering of anyone else out there has the same experience.

I have seen a local doctor, who says I am suffering from an airway disease but cannot be more specific. He has given me inhalers, nasal sprays, antihistamines, nose wash etc, but none of this seems to make any difference.

Any ideas?



11 Replies

Hi Nick,

So sorry you are suffering from this. I have a similar problem with coughing and feeling like something is constantly in my throat. A few weeks now and I have seen urgent care, regular doctor, and an ENT. Only thing that helps is laying on left side, two pillows, and taking another acid reducer or tums with dinner. I may see a pulmonologist and suggest you do too, if they think it’s related to breathing or airway infection. Otherwise, I suggest of course a specialist and doing an EGD, motility assessment, 24 hour test, and or barium swallow, to see if there is something they are missing. Best of luck! Also, if you do find anything else that helps, please let me know!


Hi try looking up Sensory Neuropathic Cough on Youtube by Dr. Robert Bastian. I take Amitriptyline to quell the nerve endings and it WORKS, this is after having a cough for 20 years


You are suffering from bile reflux when asleep and I agree this is horrendous , we have all experienced this at some time .It's very important that you get this under control because it's totally different to the reflux that is generally controlled by a PPI and can be damaging to our lungs

Leave a three hour gap after eating before you go to bed,.

Sleep on the side that suits you with me that is on the left.

Take a resort spoon of Gaviscon or Peptac liquid before going to sleep and finally ensure you are supported with 3 or 4 pillows.

I'm sure this will help



I do all of that but can't sleep on more than two pillows it hurts my neck plus I'm a fidgeter.


I understand that and I have a wedge pillow that you can purchase from the OPA at a discounted price. Then I place one pillow under my back and two under my head. All these pillows go on top of the wedge and that supports the neck.. It's trial and error to what suits you and it's taken me over 10 years to get it right.



I bought a metal support from a medical website looks a bit like something you'd use on the beach. I've got an electric bed but I find the support with pillows of course a much better and cheaper option.


It's that a V pillow or something different?


Hi again I've just Googled wedge pillow it looks good I'll try one. Thanks x


I had the op a year ago now, I rarely suffer from acid reflux because I always sleep on my back in my adjustable bed or when away from home I use a wedge pillow. I would dearly love to sleep on my side but that guarantees reflux. My head is about 1/2 metre above my body.

1 like

Bike reflux - almost always caused by sleeping too flat or on the "wrong side" you should only be able to sleep on your back and either left or right side depending on th post surgery plumbing . I'm 4.5 years out and used to get this every couple of weeks or so. Now have an electric bed and have not had an episode in a month. Eating a big meal late at night was also a cause for this, although it never usually happened till around 4am


Should be bile not bike, bloody spellchecker !


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