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Smoker, severe cough, severe headache

I am a 60 year old male, and have had this heavy smokers cough now for almost a year, and it s making life totally unbearable. (before anyone fires back with comments saying it s my own fault and no sympathy. Pleas don t as I already know this). The coughing is so bad I am awake until after 3 or 4am. I then wake up about 6am and coughing until about 12 noon. I have splitting headaches because of the coughing which adds to the misery. I haven t seen my doctor yet, as I always feel I am wasting his time
Asked On : Thu, 3 May 2012
Answers:  1 Views:  56
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Psychiatrist 's  Response
Hi and welcome to Healthcare Magic. Thanks for your question...

Firstly, I appreciate the fact that you have seeked help and I will try to help you in whatever way I can. Having recurrent or persistent cough in a person who smokes heavily can be doe to a lung disease called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In simple terms, the tiny air passages and membranes inside the lung become inflamed and damaged, resulting in a chronic cough, phlegm and at times, even breathing difficulty. Sometimes, because the tissues are already inflamed and damaged, you can develop additional respiratory infections which may worsen the symptoms.

Now, whatever be the reason for the cough (even if it is heavy smoking), there is no need for you to keep suffering without getting any medical attention. There are medication - tablets, inhalers, etc. which can help 'free' the air passages and give you some relief from your symptoms. Moreover, if you are having an added infection, then treating that with appropriate antibiotics will definitely give you a partial relief at least.

So, I think the first thing you should do is to go staightaway to a doctor and get yourself checked, examined and if necessary have a few tests like a chest xray. Remember, that doctors are there to treat illnesses and relieve people of their distress and there is no need to believe that you are a waste of time to them. Maybe, your doctor is giong to say that most of your problems are due to smoking and that you have to quit, but that does not mean that you should deny yourself treatment and continue to suffer. As doctors, we are tuned to be non-judgemental and empathetic towards our patients...

Secondly, do not be self-reproachful on yourself and lose your confidence. Everyone has weaknesses and problems. But at some time or the other, we have to step up, seek help and take positive efforts to solve them. I would strongly suggest that you also seek professional help with regards to your smoking habit. There are many ways and means by which you can get help and more than you believe, you will be able to make a difference. And it is never too late...

Take care of your health... it is your responsibility and your right.

All the best.

-Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
Answered: Wed, 23 May 2012
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