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Elle asked...

I have had a cough for several years now...

I have had a cough for several years now. It ranges on the degree of severity. Generally it’s a tickle, but I will cough throughout the day until it is clear (and then it will come back). Generally I get a cold when the weather changes. This is when it gets much worse.

I cough constantly and cannot sleep (as i cannot lay down for coughing). This can generally last for several weeks. Due to the coughing I also experience a lot of pain in my ribs and often lose my voice. It’s also quite embarrassing at work when people mention it (i.e. do you need a glass of water, or you should really go to the doctors about that).

I have been to my GP on multiple occasions for this over the years, but they always place it down to 'a chest infection'. They then prescribe antibiotics - which i take - but they do nothing. I took it further a couple of years ago and they sent me to get some chest X-rays - which came back clear. They are stumped...they seem to be at a loss and are not helping.

I had my tonsils taken out in Dec 2012 and the ear, nose and throat specialist I saw said it could possibly be a 'post nasal drip' causing the coughing. Please help me, I have the insurance to go private to get this fixed... but have no idea where to start?

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The answer

Dear Elle,

If you have a persistent post nasal drip this can cause irritation of the throat and larynx and cause a persistent cough as secretions tend to be acidic and irritating. The cause can be several things, chronic rhinitis, sinusitis or nasal polyps. For a diagnosis you will need referral to an ENT specialist and they may need to use an endoscope to look at your nasal passages and your vocal cords to see if they are irritated.

This also brings up another possible cause, gastric reflux. Persistent cough is a common symptom with this, and if sinus and nasal problems are ruled out you will need to see a gastroenterologist who would look to do a gastroscopy to look at the condition of your throat and stomach. All conditions are treatable. Hopefully this will help narrow down your diagnosis.

Answered by Health at Hand nurses.


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