I Keep Getting Respiratory Infections and Can't Get Rid of My Cough

Updated on March 11, 2012
A.N. asks from Saint George, UT
14 answers

I am asking this because I am worried I have something more serious, but don't have insurance, and already went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago.

At the beginning of December I was sick for two weeks, then I got sick again at the end of January. Both times I had a horrible cough that would keep me up at night, and just felt bad the whole time. Went to the doctor the second time I was sick, he said I had two resipratory infections (about a month apart) and he gave me 10 day antibiotics, but I don't think they did anything (I got better, but not right away, it lingered on for another week, it must have been a bacterial infection). I have had a continuing cough since the beginning of December, sometimes it gets bad, but not as bad as the two times I have been sick. In between my sicknesses I ran and biked and had no problems with my breathing, I felt good, except for coughing on and off. So now I am sick again, for the third time in 2 months, after about a week of feeling ok. I can feel it in my lungs, and am pretty sure it is similar to the other things I had.

No one else in my family has been sick, but you would think I would be pretty contagious since I keep catching something. Also, I work at home and haven't been going out much, so I'm not exposed to a lot of germs that aren't bought in by my family. It isn't pneumonia, my lungs sounded good when I was at the doctor, and I don't have any of the other symptoms. I am also pretty healthy most of the time, I normally get only one cold a year, and have bad allergies a couple of times a year, but nothing else. I have never been sick like this before. Anyone had anything like this and it turned out to be something else?

**Edit - Just wanted to say that I don't smoke. I also don't think it is asthma, no breathing or wheezing ever. I haven't had any problems exercising either, and I did several high intensity 1.5 hour cycling classes in between the first two times I was sick, with no issues. After the second sickness (before this new one), I haven't been able to do much, but not because of breathing, my body just feels too tired when I try to do anything.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I had this exact situation last year; I was on antibiotics twice, and still coughed! I believe I had a respiratory infection, but also learned that I have acid reflux, which can manifest itself as a persistent cough. I took Benadryl at night, along with a Zantac, to help me sleep when the cough was "phlegmier." Now a Zantac before bed alone usually does the trick. Good luck!

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answers from Kansas City on

Since you've said, you are normally healthy, only get a cold once a year but have bad allergies, you could have asthma. There are 'coughers' instead of 'wheezers'. Which also makes sense because you said the antibiotics may not have worked and you still have a cough. And yes, you can develop it later in life.

Since you don't have insurance, you may not be able to see a pulmonologist (lung specialist) or an allergist. But see if you the doc you do see can do a simple spirometry or if they have a peak flow meter. It's a little hand-held device you blow into and they can get a rough idea of your overall lung volume.

I do not have asthma, but I am an RN and worked 3 years in a hospital as a pulmonary clinician and another 4 years in a lung specialists office.

Good Luck!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You may have asthma. I had never had asthma and developed it when I was in my 30's after a bad cold/flu. I coughed for months. Acupuncture got rid of the coughing but now I go for allergy shots and take Advair as well as going for acupuncture. My asthma starts up whenever I have a cold or flu so I make sure I get a flu shot every year. Regardless, it sounds like you need to be checked out again and have someone make sure you don't have pneumonia. Good luck!



answers from Kansas City on

Ask your Dr. if you can get a chest x-ray.
Have you done anything different in your house, like new carpet, new furniture, anythng that has an unusual odor or fumes.
Many years ago, I had pneumonia, coughed (dry) all the time, no wheezing and didn't even feel congested, but was diagnosed with x-ray.

If viral, antibiotics probably won't do anything, if bacterial, maybe you weren't on the right one or long enough. Have them check you further to rule out any pathology.

Hope you feel better soon!


answers from Dallas on

If it is a congested cough, try Mucinex with cough suppressant. Otherwise, see if the doctor's office will call in an Rx for Zutripro solution without you having to go back in.
If the cough does persist, see a pulmonologist.
I can also help you with immune building supplements if you are interested.
Hope you are feeling better soon!



answers from Cumberland on

You need a chest x-ray-good luck and feel better soon!



answers from Los Angeles on

Try rubbing VICKS on the bottoms of your feet wear socks. you can do this at night. and if you have a persistant cough do the same for during the day.



answers from Los Angeles on

You sound just like me! I had a terrible "cold" before the holidays - which turned out to be acute sinusitis from allergies, and then came back from the holidays in January and got a terrible cough, which turned into bad shoulder pains from coughing so hard. It's exhausting. I wasn't getting any sleep - it was especially bad at night, feeling like my lungs were filling up with gunk from the bottom up, and my cough has been unproductive - can't get the gunk out. I don't smoke either, and haven't had asthma since my son was born 5 years ago.
I also was on 2 courses of antibiotics which did NOTHING. The only thing for me that has helped is lots of allergy medicine - I'm now on singulair, and benedryl PLUS a humidifier right on my head. PLUS a cough suppressant/expectorant (like Mucinex or Robitussin) and a cough drop. That's my nighttime regimin. It's started to work, and I'm now 1 week cough free. But it took FOREVER.
The other thing I did, once my shoulders and back started to hurt so much from coughing, is I went to PT/massage to work out the tension in my muscles. I had worn myself out so much, I couldn't cough anymore. AFter PT, I could actually cough hard enough to get stuff out, which made me feel a lot better.
Get well soon!
P.S. I wanted to add: This year has been SO DRY - SoCal (& I assume St. George) has had 2 days of rain all winter. So I've noticed my seasonal allergies that I would normally have in the fall/spring are hear already. There's tons of dust & junk in the air, and there's no moisture to stabilize it at all. That may be why your allergies are acting up now, unexpectedly.



answers from Portland on

I suggest you start taking Vit C and probiotics. They will improve your immune system. I take Emerg-C. It has other nutrients in it beside Vit C. I rarely get a cold even tho I have grandchildren who bring all the bugs home.

BTW antibiotics do not help with bacterial infections. I suggest you're having viral infections. The reason the doctor gives anti-biotics other than to treat the infection in case its bacterial is to prevent getting a bacterial infection along with the viral infection.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.,

I know all of the moms on this site are well meaning, but they're not doctors and they cannot make a medically sound diagnosis. Even if there is a doc among us, no doctor would try to make a diagnosis without including a physical examination at a minimum.

Please, I understand you don't have insurance, but go see a doctor. You are experiencing a change in your general health that is outside the bounds of "normal", at least for you. You can't go just by symptoms, however. Lots of different diseases can cause identical or near-identical symptoms (what are termed in medicine as "differentials" or "differential diagnoses").

Bacterial infections can recur and may not respond to previous antibiotics if they're resistant. Your doctor may need to experiment with other drugs or multiple drugs for them to be effective, if this is the case, but you'd first have to definitely establish for a definite fact that you have a bacterial infection; this can actually be fairly difficult and might require some pretty sophisticated testing, like bronchial lavage. Viral infections generally don't recur, but there are a lot of different viruses and each new one you come in contact with needs to be handled by the immune system. If your immune system has become somewhat less responsive for whatever reason, it may not be as effective at fighting new pathogens as you become exposed to them. Boosting your vitamin D levels can actually help if this is the case, as well as taking a daily low-dose zinc supplement.

Then, there are the other "things" that can be causing bronchial symptoms -- everything from a fungal infection to autoimmune disorders, granulomatous diseases, and tumors (benign, as well as malignant). Also, you mention that you do have bad seasonal allergies, so it is entirely possible that you are, indeed, developing asthma. Allergy is actually a progressive disease, with the endpoint, in many cases, being asthma. You may also be developing an eosinophilia of the bronchi which could be causing on-again, off-again symptoms in the early stage.

This is why you need a medical practitioner with the appropriate education to figure out what's going on. The first step at this point should be another visit -- perhaps bypassing a general internist and going directly to a pulmonologist. Make sure you supply a full medical history -- especially of your illness -- and let the doctor know that you don't want to be treated by shotgun treatment of the symptoms; at a minimum, a chest X-ray is in order here, and probably a little blood work.

Whatever is ailing you, I hope you get it figured out and feel better soon!



answers from Lexington on

sometimes when i get to coughing and cant stop i take a breathing treatment of my sons and take claritin. i dont have insurance either so it works. I would say you r tired from being up all night.

my son use to cough all night and sometiimes throw up in his sleep i would have to watch him close i started giving him claritin every day and he got better.



answers from Los Angeles on

I don't know what this bug is, either, but I have had what sounds like the same thing. I got sick mid-January with bad cold symptoms and a deep cough. Not that I was coughing uncontrollably or had a nagging cough, but just that it was deep, and when I coughed, it sounded really, really bad. Symptoms included traveling body aches, and headache. It took a couple of weeks to mostly go away (the cough never went away), and then within a month or so I got sick again. Symptoms were typical head cold symptoms, but this time, with rest, they went away within a couple of days. I can still feel fluid in my lungs, though, and the cough remains. The cough thing is up and down: some days it's worse, some better, but I still have it. My boyfriend also got sick, and for the most part, his illness and symptoms tracked right along with mine. You mention loss of energy, and we have that, too. Both of us are people who rarely every get sick and don't tend to catch bugs from exposure to others.



answers from Los Angeles on

Honestly, I know this sounds crazy, but Oregano is working well for many people with this viral lingering cough. I like Thompson Oregano Oil ($5-$9/bottle). My husband and son had the same thing, so they took Oregano and it worked like magic.

Studies have shown its usefulness against the prevention of candida albicans, aspergillus mold, staph infections, vaginal infections, pseudomonas and listeria. It has been known to help with allergies. Certain studies reveal that it is as powerful a painkiller as the best ones on the market, with the added benefit that it is has little to zero side effects.

We also use therapeutic dosages of vitamin A with D for a week. Vitamin A is the primary nutrient for epithelial tissues, which include the respiratory tract. I buy the A/D in 25,000iu/1000iu dosages and take 4-6 of them for a week. Vitamin A is not toxic with this dosage for a week. It would be if you did this dosage for a month or more. ($9-$15/bottle at this dosage)

Dairy causes an increase in mucus production, so while trying to get well - no dairy and no sugar. LOTS of water.


answers from Providence on

Viral infections can take awhile to get rid of. I had a terrible head cold for the last two weeks. Cough is still present at times. It is best to get a chest xray. Especially if you feel it in your lungs when you are breathing. In the meantime, I would start taking a vitamin regularly , along with Vitamin C, and Zinc. Probiotics help as well.

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