Constant cough (4 months)
I have a question. So in 2018 I had a lumpectomy and radiation and since then on Anastrozole until 2023. On November 2018, I had a cold and had a continued cough until summer 2019. It stopped then. On December 2019 I got another cold and since then I am still coughing. Both times I went to a respirologist and 2 ENTs, they did x-rays, C.T. scans, checked for asthma and I don’t have anything wrong according to the results – lungs are clear, sinuses don’t have inflammation, I don’t have asthma – I do have post nasal drip but both ENTs did the camera check and said nothing is wrong. I do neti pot rinses daily, I drink lots of water and fresh Juice, I eat healthy but this is not leaving me, recently when I cough my chest hurts. So I don’t get this. It’s not a dry cough so nothing to do with anything that is going on now with the corona, no fever, no symptoms, just this darn cough. If it was the radiation which did cause a mild fibrosis on the radiated breast, how come it started way before then? I can’t find any info about what to do about this. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Breast Cancer Support Group.
Hello @inquiringminds, Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Your username gave me a smile – one of my old favorite sayings when I was a tech writer was "inquiring minds want to know…". I can understand why you are concerned about getting some answers. I would have the same concerns. Here is an article from 2019 that you may find helpful.
Medical News Today – Cough that won't go away: When to see a doctor (May, 2019)
Have you discussed the new chest pain symptoms when you cough with your doctor?
Hi @inquiringminds, welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You'll notice that I moved your message to the Breast Cancer group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/breast-cancer/
In addition to the link that @johnbishop provided, I thought you might like to connect with other members who have had treatment for breast cancer who may have had a similar experience, like @roch, @pegannie @elizm @trixie1313 and @dianamiracle
InquiringMinds, are you saying that the cough started before you had radiation? Or only 4 months ago?
Thank you Colleen, I will do that xx
Thank you John, I will look at the link. I didn't discuss this new chest pain with my dr. because all the tests came back clear:(
@inquiringminds The radiation could be causing some of that cough. My radiation was in the vicinity of the worst lung (I also have bronchiectasis) and a month or more after radiation I wound up with radiation pneumonitis. Great luck, right? But was treated for that and continued with irritating cough. I went through a lot of Riccola cough drops to help soothe cough. Found a product (NutriBiotic throat spray) which helped some. However, I was reading that during cold weather there is not enough moisture in the air so started using my vaporizer throughout the day and night and, wouldn't you know, my cough has been cut down exponentially? It at least wouldn't hurt to try a vaporizer. Hoping this helps you somewhat.
BTW, I do not have any of these symptoms as it indicated in the link you gave me -coughing up blood
shortness of breath
unexplained weight loss
Hi Ttixie, thank you for your reply – so they checked and I don't have pneumonitins, I constantly have cough drops in my mouth and I have a humidifier in my room to which I add peppermint essential oil, I even put that peppermint oil beside my nostrils and it helps temporarily, I put vicks on my chest, the funny part is – at night I don't cough and I really think that it has to do with the vaporizer but as soon as I get up – here it goes again.I also don't have asthma, they checked and no pneumonia, so I am just going crazy with this. everything they checked for turned out clear – the radiation caused a slight fibrosis but not enough to justify this annoying cough. The respirologist insisted that it's post nasal drip but the 2 ENTs said no. I think he is right but how on earth can I get rid of it? I am doing everything possible to dry it up with nasal rinses and I even tried allergy medication and nasal sprays – NOTHING is helping
This always is one of those amorphous issues. You have a cough. Doctors test you in all manner of ways and can't find the cause. One thing that you shouldn't overlook is the anastrozole (or any of the AIs) as cough can be an adverse effect from it (and most doctors are not tuned into the gzillion effects which the AIs can manifest in different people. And, if you're like me, your high blood pressure med (and others) may have a similar effect. When you look drugs up on the web, the manufacturers rarely mention cough… instead, look each one up by inputting, for example, "anastrozole and cough," etc. and voila! Mayo also is a good resource for looking up adverse effects of various drugs, and drug interactions.
The second aspect of this issue is, what can a patient do about it? Your oncologist, for example, might say that it's just one of those trade-offs for taking an AI and not worth stopping the AI… and s/he has a good point, which is why many of us keep a big supply of sugar-free cough drops on hand.
My experience with the entire breast cancer journey is that my body/health likely will never be the same; weird things will arise, may come and go, and it behooves me to research them and take them all in stride. In the meantime, I send you blessings.
@inquiringminds I also use a product recommended by a chiropractor: Nutribiotic Throat Spray. It helps somewhat with cough as well. You spray a couple shots to the back of your throat. It contains zinc, grapefruit seed extract, and menthol. Keep using the vaporizer and drink water throughout the day as it will help thin out mucus if you have any causing the cough.
@inquiringminds Three things come to mind – some people do not have asthma, but can have an "overreactive airway" condition that can lead to persistent cough or other symptoms. Not sure if there is a treatment or you just have to learn to tolerate it.
Another is irritation or developing allergy to something in your home. It can be as simple as a new scent in a detergent, a candle or the essential oil places in avaporizer or diffuser, new carpet or a pet. And it may be a newly devloped sensitivity to any of those. For example, I was around my daughter's guinea pigs without incident for tears, sometimes they even used to live with us. After a bad bout of pneumonia, I cannot handle them or be around them for very long.
One more thing to check before you give up – the possible side effects of any other meds you are taking. WebMD and RxList are both places you can look. Another resource is to ask your pharmacist to review all your meds including non-prescription ones, for the cough as a side effect or interaction between neds causing the cough.
I know we would love to believe our docs do this automatically, but I can tell you from experience with 2 very good ones, it doesn't always happen. After 4 months of struggling to breathe 2 years ago, the pharmacist figured out my asthma meds weren't working due to their effectiveness being suppressed by another prescription. A dear friend and his wife were at wits end over his persistent cough a week ago after numerous visits, tests and chest xrays all ruled out illnesses and confirmed that his copd is stable. Finally the doc reviewed his meds, stopped one of them and 4 days later he is fine. I will not name the drug here, but it is a very common one, which many can take without incident, others take for a time then develop issues and some people do not tolerate well.
Good luck with this difficult issue. Let us know what you figure out