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Coughing phlegm, feeling odd sensation over body, dizziness and high blood pressure. What's going on?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 2349 Questions
For some months now, I have been accumulating phlegm in my throat and time to time throughout the day I end up coughing to remove it. The phlegm is colourless.
If coughing violently (which often happens) I get an odd sensation with pins and needles over my body and generally feel slightly dizzy and 'spaced out'. Eventually after a few seconds I return to normal.
My blood pressure is a bit high and my GP and the local hospital are doing tests to find out why. Earlier this year my blood pressure was fine.
I am taking coracten 20mg and ramipril 10mg and Doxazosin 2mg daily. I am 71 years old and male.
Posted Fri, 12 Oct 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 3 hours later


Thanks for the query

The symptoms you perceive could be related to gastro-esophageal reflux disease or sinusitis.

Gastro-esophageal reflux disease commonly referred to as GERD or acid reflux, is a condition in which the liquid content of the stomach backs up or refluxes into the esophagus. The liquid that enters the esophagus (regurgitation) can damage the lining of the esophagus although visible signs of inflammation occur in a minority of patients. The regurgitated liquid usually contains acid that is produced by the stomach.

The reflux usually happens more in the night while lying down in supine position. Acid when it regurgitates from the stomach into the esophagus and into the throat, the mucosa of the throat gets burnt leading to inflammation of the throat. Inflammation of the mucosa in turn induces mucosal swelling, giving rise to foreign body sensation, breathing difficulty, cough, repeated swallowing, excessive collection of phlegm (to soothe the inflamed area), etc.

The causes of reflux of acid are many, to mention a few, loss of tone of the esophageal sphincters, medicines, obesity, stress, food habits, smoking, alcohol, debilitated conditions, etc. Identifying the causative factors and avoiding them can give relief from this problem.

My suggestions to you are:
1. To drink plenty of warm water
2. Avoid coffee/alcohol/stress/retiring to bed immediately after taking food.
3. Try taking medicines such as proton pump inhibitor (Esomeprazole,
Pantoperazole) and prokinetic (Domperidone).
4. Try to lie down on semi-prone position and preferably on the left side.
5. There should be gap of at least 1 hour after taking your supper and retiring to bed. This is the transit time required for the gastric emptying.
6. Do steam inhalation 3-4 times a day; it helps in clearing the phlegm in the throat.

Hope I have answered your query; I will be available for the follow-up queries.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Coughing phlegm, feeling odd sensation over body, dizziness and high blood pressure. What's going on? 58 minutes later
Thanks for that Doctor.
Have you got any views about this sensation of 'pins and needles' which I experience when I am coughing. I feel it in my hands, even my legs. Most odd and rather worrying.

Often the coughing takes over and it is difficult to stop
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 2 hours later

Thanks for writing back

My sincere apologies, I overlooked this part of the query.

The sensation of pins and needles is due to peripheral neuritis, which happens in people suffering from diabetes, Dizziness could be due to increased pressure inside the brain following coughing. During cough all the muscles of the chest and the neck go for spasm in oreder to increase the pressure in the chest to execute the mechanism of cough. This leads to reduction in the blood supply to the peripheral parts of the body and increase in the central blood pressure.

Hence, due to increased central blood pressure, there is transient dizziness following cough and in stark contrast there is reduced blood pressure to the peripheral parts of the body which devoid the nerves of its blood supply giving rise to numbness, sensation of ‘pins and needles’, etc.

My suggestion to you is to follow the home remedies and take the medicines as discussed in the previous response; you will be definitely relieved of cough. If it does not subside, please consult your physician for a thorough evaluation of the chest and the central nervous system.

I wish you good health.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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