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Dr. Andrew Rynne
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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Suggest treatment for chronic cough

Answered by
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3129 Questions

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Posted on Fri, 16 Sep 2016 in Asthma and Allergy
Question: I am writing on behalf of my 55 year old brother, He and I are concerned about his frequent lingering (sometimes lasting 3 mos. at a time) horrendous cough that sounds like a lung is coming out, it causes his nose and eyes to water. He also has type II Diabetes, has been exposed to mold in his home (he claims it is not there any more) He is a painter who uses little precaution and can no longer smell things very well. At night, he seems to breathe heavy, stop and he has muscle spasms all over his mid-section. (I recently recorded it for him while on a family vacation) He doesn't sleep well at night and is so warn out over his coughing spells. He has been to several Doctors, most recently saw an ENT and he was put on Omeprazole for possible acid reflux, and an allergy medicine, and has been on diabetes medicine. He also has a herniated belly button that seems to stick out 4 inches. I am concerned his coughing will cause something worse like a heart attack, he is overweight, he does not have health insurance and is frustrated with the "try this, try that" without results, what kind of a Dr. should he see for this kind of a problem? or What can he do to make the cough go away faster?
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 19 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Pulmonologist

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

If he has already had an evaluation from an ENT, the next step would be a pulmonologist - a doctor who specializes in lungs.

You ask how to get the cough to go away faster, but for that we would need to know what is causing the problem. It's possible that the mold and paint fume exposures have caused a chronic inflammatory process.

One way to suppress the coughing fits is with a codeine based cough suppressant. This requires a prescription, perhaps the ENT will help with this until he sees the pulmonologist and gets this sorted out.

Be sure to sign a release of records at the previous doctor's offices to have it sent to the pulmonologist's office so that he/she does not have to repeat chest X-rays, pulmonary function tests, or other evaluations that have been done.

I understand your frustration with the various doctors who are guessing and saying "try this" without knowing what the underlying problem is definitively. Sometimes when medical problems are hard to sort out, and where the risks from medications are less than the risks from testing and the likelihood of getting results from testing (such as giving an acid reducer like Omeprazole vs having an upper GI endoscopy), we give meds in a "try this, try that" way. But if these have not helped, it's time for further exploration.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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