Dry cough after esophagous surgery - Oesophageal Patie...

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Dry cough after esophagous surgery


Hi..this is my first week home after esophagous surgery..so tired and still so sore..my right nipple to the side of surgery is super sensitive..I suppose nerve endings.Also this terrible dry cough when I breath in or talking,as anybody else experienced this ..😊

43 Replies

Hi Telford hiker

Answer to your question is yes. I'm 7 months post op now but when I first came home I was coughing quite a lot. Mainly after food or when I went to bed, I spent a lot of time downstairs having a cup of tea in the middle of the night waiting for it to go. I've said before that for me if I leaned slightly to my left when sitting down and lay slightly on my left in bed it eased. After talking to others I figured it is probably bile reflux irritating my throat and leaning to the side helped it to go down. It made it easier to get a good night's sleep and better through the day. I can't say this is a cure but it worked for me. My right nipple is still sensative but not as much as when I first came home. I've been back at work for three weeks and the more I do the better I feel. It's a very long road to recovery and sometimes it's so frustrating but it does improve week by week. Be patient and positive because it does get better. Hope this helps.

All the best Mick.

Hi..thanks for the reply,always re assuring,that it might just be the norm ..thank you very helpful,and good luck with your recovery..Marc

I'm 15 years post op but I well remember coughing for England for a while. Eventually it subsided. I remember that Strepsils sometimes gave relief. Time is the answer.

Oh ok ..thank you ..I will give that a try..anything is worth a bash at mo,thank you

Just a thing: my husband used to tell me "I feel a right tit".

But his surgery was over 8 years ago and he hasn't said it recently. Must have stopped!

telford-hiker in reply to Rsw1fe

😂😂 I know the feeling ..thank you

Hi there well done. Yes nerve damage the sensation takes along time to come back. I still get pain underneath my arm and sore achy feeling after 4 years. Yes I coughed a bit and would also feel like extra heart beats.

It is very early days and you will be on a bit of a roller coaster.

Best wishes


telford-hiker in reply to kiddy

Hi..thanks I can see it been a long haul..just checking on things,You must know that feeling in the night ..wat the hell is happening now 🙈😂

Yes definately and this is the right place to ask people. As long as you have no temperature the cough is quite normal. Your oesphagus has got to learn to work again and if you had the Ivor Lewis they would have collapsed your lung and so breathing exercises are helpful.

telford-hiker in reply to kiddy

Yeah Ivor Lewis..I’ve got the breathing tube thingy..feel a lot better today after all your answers on here..so thank you..a good day today.. I’ll try and keep it up..thank you 🙏🏻

Notknowmuch in reply to kiddy

True, my husband had the IL operation a month and a half ago. He said the pain is mainly under the arm and he does cough every now and then when he talks or tries to sing (😅). It is his collapsed lung during the surgery that causes this and the surgeon isn’t too concerned as he said the pain is normal and will be felt for a while to come!

Hi there.

Glad to hear your on the road to recovery. I had my surgery 7 yrs ago, I was like you, no energy, tired all the time, I was on morphine for a good while, you don't indicate what sort of surgery you've had, I had full removal of my oesophagus and part of my stomach removed in, so I might be a little different to you, but all I can say is it takes time, be kind to yourself, you've been through a lot. Your body is now working hard to mend its self. We are all different and all take different times to heal fully. I still have a numbness in my right breast, weird feeling tbh, I don't no if that will ever come back, my scar area is numb too. It is all nerve damage and your nerve endings take time to find each other again. ( that's what I was told by the surgeons lol)

Take time to enjoy being who you are, be kind to yourself and tell yourself your doing a good job, because you are.

Take care


telford-hiker in reply to Popsic

Hi,yeah same operation..I do feel a little better each day..apart from the odd dumping after eating the wrong thing..but I guess that’s the learning curve..thank you for replying,very kind and reassuring..regards Marc

Popsic in reply to telford-hiker

Hi Marc

I get dumping too, I didn't realise there's early dumping and late dumping! Weird feeling isn't it lol.

You will get better day by day, there's a lot to learn along the way and I'm still learning!

My only thought after surgery was " ill never have a pasty again!) being a Devon girl an all lol. But I can if I want to, all be it a small one 😁

Always here to listen, if you need.


telford-hiker in reply to Popsic

Yeah very strange ..feel like I’m going to pass out then a rush to the loo..🙈..I’m trying to keep a diary regards triggers..I really miss a glass of red wine..I suppose most things are achieveable in moderation..time will tell..stay safe

Popsic in reply to telford-hiker

You will be able to have your wine, I drink gin occasionally and I have no probs with it, in fact if I drink alcohol I don't get acid, weird.

Stay safe too.

telford-hiker in reply to Popsic

Oow perked me up..thanks..have a good weekend 😊

2 week now..feeling slight better each day..a short walk every morning..1 other thing if anybody knows..but when I eat small portions seems like they are stuck in throat for a while.and seemed to be bringing up foam..or bubbles of water/bile.is this what I’m eating or to large portions..didn’t think id have to face this every time I eat

What you experience is perfectly normal experience for such early days out of hospital with oesophagectomy. The surgery is very major and radical surgery. If you just 2 plus weeks from hospital discharge then you may sustain such symptoms for some time. Over the period of significant time your body will acquaint with the New Normal.

Suggest also searching through the past posts on this forum. That will be immense help and useful to you.

Thank you ,only just getting used to using this app too..very useful,I have since found some answers on here from 6 years ago..brilliant site,and again thank you 🙏🏻

Well done.

Please also visit opa.org.uk if not already and have a god at their downloads section to inform yourself and others in your close care.

If not able to print you can telephone their number on the website and ask for the leaflets to be posted to your address.

Also many options of patient groups through opa as well maggies, CLAN, macmillan charities. You can use your location search or find the nearest meeting centre. I found that very useful in the early days. And still manage to attend if I am around when the meeting happens.

Thank you,I will take a look

Bless you, you have crossed another hurdle and back home now. Take a day at a time.

This site has so many valuable experiences shared by the lovely patients and carers, good reference when needed.

God speed with your recovery!

Try to walk even very slowly (pacing) for a couple of minutes if possible. Continue to do the breathing and coughing exercises every few hours. These helps the lungs to recover.

Hi,not sure ,is this to me..if so thank you..I’m managing a walk around the block,added a bit on every few days ..quite tiring,but does help...and keeping up lung exercises..long road ahead 😊

Hi telford-hiker, it is great to be able to walk that much so early, take it easy though. Stop and rest a bit to catch your breathe if needed.

It is winter here in Australia so my husband can only walk outside on days when the sun is out. Lately it has been very cold so he just walks around the home and up and down the stairs.

He’s over 2 1/2 months from IL operation and eating is very slow and small meals. Just finished a month of ‘mince and mash’ diet and now starting on soft foods. Food has to be moist with gravy.

Sometimes I think my husband gets full with the gravy and mash alone 😅.

Keep positive and soldier on, there are many who are travelling on this journey whether it be the patient or their carers.

Hope to hear that you are doing well each day, take care.

Hi..I’ve just done my walk,about a mile,but feeling a bit wiped out..so frustrating,as I used to walk for miles in the mountains.Still hopefully 1 day..I can eat most things,but as you say tiny portions,if I eat too much ,get some sort of foaming in throat..I’m still quite sore across left side of chest...I think nerve endings..Half way thro 3rd week home,maybe pushing it..I do hope your husband recovers well..it’s all very strange,but better than the alternative 😊

Hi , my husband has been motivated by your post and said he’ll push himself to walk a little bit more.

Recently, he has started to do a few hours of work from home and that has taken up some of the time. Between meals (6x), rest, a little work from home and cold weather, he has lost his routine 😅.

He is very blessed, he didn’t have many issues Other than the norm with pain from the underarm wound on the right. Just had the feeding tube taken out on Monday. He didn’t need to use it since coming home. Said he didn’t have reflux but burps after meals. Feels very uncomfortable with a little pain sometimes if he eats too much. He takes an hour’s nap in the afternoon.

Today’s lunch he had an open toasted croissant with cheese and really enjoyed it. Rest of the day’s meals were more a chore. He has yet to enjoy eating again. Time...it is time that we need to get to know this ‘new normal’!

Hi,I’m starting to enjoy food ,but probably only the first 4 or 5 mouth fulls..😂 then start to fill up..I have just turned 60(nice birthday in lock down and this cancer) but hey ho..so I can’t retire just yet.. but my job,which was a building site painter and decorator was quite physical,so maybe find something a little less strenuous..🤞🏻.. I have just,this minute received a letter saying,I’m due a phone consultation on Tuesday, with my surgeon,to discuss the outcome and if I need more chemo. Not looking forward to that,but we will see on Tuesday..I do hope your husband returns to near normal as can be soon..I also can’t wait to get rid of this jej line..probably have to swap it for a picc line if more chemo is required..onwards and upwards 😊

Hi, both my husband and I turned 60 last year! It seemed this dreaded OC generally hits people from 60 years onwards! We had a great time in England for our birthdays!

I was made redundant on the day my husband finished his chemo radiation treatments and Melbourne went into the stage 1 COVID-19 lockdown.

The blessing with the redundancy was that I could fully care for my husband.....especially now!

If you are not feeding via the jej line, you still need it on for 6 weeks. That’s what happened in my husband’s case. I flush the tube 2x a day for 4 weeks and give him blood thinner injection (Daily for 14 days) on his belly. Glad it is over now!

He didn't need any further chemo after surgery only had it pre-op. His stage was T2 N1 M0.

Before op he weighed 83 kg, was fit, doesn't smoke but got to love his drinks too much since his navy days. Now he weighs 76.6 kg and the surgeon reckons he’ll be able to get back up to 80kgs max in future.

The swelling in the wounds are gradually coming down and he is in the process of weaning off painkillers (targin). Takes 1 targin before bed and 2X panadol four hourly.

My husband is in project management and since last week started working from home for a few hours a day, he coughs a bit more when talking.

Yeah ,the dreaded 60..glad you enjoyed England..a lot don’t..my brother has lived in NZ for last 38 years,he does come back occasionally,but no intentions of moving back..this covid hasn’t helped.what with no visitors in hospital,or on chemo..but saved my wife a bit of a horrible journey back and forth to hospital..I only flush my line at night before bed ,and put 2 paracetamol through,to help a little..I haven’t been taking much else..I have injected myself every day since leaving hospital with blood thinners,I think 28 injections since surgery,but finished them last night..thank the lord..😊..I have had a little trouble about 3 times with early dumping,from the protein shakes from hospital,but I’ve dumped them and feel better for it..my mother in law during all this was diagnosed with stomach cancer,taken into hospital,caught covid 19 and sadly passed away..this is one year I think none of us will forget in a hurry.,😰 hopefully better times ahead .. I think we are the lucky ones compared to some ..might even try a small glass of wine to celebrate later.,😊

Indeed, what a year for you and yours! Yes, why not...a little red wine is good for your heart too!

My husband needed 2 weeks of blood thinner injections and I giving him those injections especially seeing all the bruise marks on the injection sites. Nearly breaks my fingers putting on the compression socks each night until we saw avYouTube clip showing how to use a plastic bag to assist...it worked and I became an expert putting those socks on!

My husband is on Fortisip Compact Protein drinks 3 x a day (300 cal each) so pressure is lessened trying to feed him 1800 cal s day.

If you can’t tolerate the protein drink, there’s a Fortijuice drink, try it to see if it helps you with daily calorie intake.

Luckily for us in Melbourne, 1 visitor is allowed for a 2 hour visit daily. After 2 days, I got to stay for around 6 hours as no one shooed me off!

He is relieved after the feeding tube was removed over a week ago.

Nowadays as long as he has 2x protein drinks and a reasonable baby size food portion for lunch and dinner, I no longer log his calorie intake. His best meal is breakfast: a coffee to start his day, oats with milk and 100ml of Sustagen made with milk.

So far (touch wood) he has not had any dumping but he feels a little pain/discomfort after meals.

Keep up the good fight and our prayers for you to have a smooth recovery. Take care.

Sorry replied below

Hi..just had a phone call from surgeon..of 76 lymph nodes taken away 7 were positive..he said that’s minimal..whoever needs another 4 rounds of chemo hopefully ‘mop up’..sounds exhausting..anybody else go this route ..thank you 😊

Hi..I did try a glass last Friday but got a rather bad hangover..maybe still early in the process,I’ll try again tonite 😉. I never did get the socks,wasn’t given any and completely forgot...I have been giving myself the injections (finished the course now)..as I didn’t fancy watching my wife do it..making us both uncomfortable..but maybe I’m lucky that I can...I’m due anyway to have my jej line out..but probably have to have picc line put back in for next lot of chemo..my weight is constant 9.6 stones..I was only 9.12 stones originally,so not to bad..I can’t stand the ensure drinks..so I will look for an alternative here in UK..thanks..in between all this madness of covid (no visitors).my poor wife has had to contend with her 89 year old mother..getting cancer .which resulted in hospitalisation,returning home for palliative care,catching covid 19,and passing away..as you say crazy year...hopefully things are getting better,and only hope that they are for you,and anybody else suffering from this dream disease..stay safe and god bless


Hope you can find a way that helps you get the nutrients your body needs to maintain or better, put in some weight for your next round of chemo.

Maybe see if there is some powder form supplement that you can sprinkle over your food.

Take care.

Hi Telford-hiker

I had the same issue, I had my op in Brighton and had good care but then moved to Devon to get out of the rat race. I’m now under Plymouth hospital where they have prescribed my 30 mg nightly of amitripyline for the right sided nerve pain, as the surgeon cut your main nerve and it is trying to send signals to each other causing the ‘pins and needles’ sensation, they also prescribed metoclopramide to keep my food down, multi vitamins and creon capsules to prevent malabsorption as well As iron tablets, although these are harsh on what stomach you have left but my pain and cough are easier.

Good luck, I’m 4 years post op.


Hey thanks for that .ill do some research on that...thank you

The cough is caused by the stomach acid irritating the back of your throat.

Ok cheers..I’ve got the sickness tablets just checked .,it’s the nerve thing that’s most annoying,like even t shirt rubbing against skin feels sore..even tho it’s not,if that makes sense 🙄😂

It does, I used to jump out of my skin, it felt like it didn’t belong to me, but the amitriptyline really helps and it helps with sleeping to, which was a nightmare with the coughing and 6 small meals a day. 👍🏻

Yeah ,you’ve got it..all of the above ..I’ll ask see if I can get some thanks

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