Strange Cough - Cough Variant Asthma in Adult?

Updated on June 21, 2012
S.M. asks from Ashburn, VA
11 answers

I have had a cough for 2 weeks with no other respitory symptoms (I don't have a cold etc.). No wheezing, occasional mucous production, but relatively dry. It is exacerbated by dust, talking, etc.

I saw the doctor today. She things I am having a "inflammatory" condition" or asthma attack I used a neubulizer, was given singular, and got an inhaler. She thinks I should be improved in about a week. Doesn't think it warrants a trip to the pulmonologist unless it persists.

She's also sending me for a chest X-ray to reassure me - ihad a non-smoking cousin who died quit young from lung cancer . Also, my momwas diagnosed with asthma but not til her late 50s.

So, I'm curious if there is Anyone out there with similar experience or suggestions. Does this make sense. I know it's silly but I can't get past this image of an asthma attack being a choking disabling experience. For me this is mostly annoying not severe. Also, would I expect singularity to help in just one week? My friend told me it takes weeks to kick in.

Thoughts? Reassurance :)?

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So What Happened?

PS. thanks for the response so far. I will add that she tried to do a breathing test in office. Don't know if it is what a pulmonologist would do. But the machine failed. I didn't take that as a positive about the practice :). But she did explain the types of factors they needed to make a diagnosis with the test. But then she basically left it at trying to get the cough under control and seeing if I respond to asthma treatment. Ii guess this makes sense, but I came home and started thinking about it - even if it does help, I don't like not having an answer. Will this happen again? Will it get worse etc. reasonable questions I think, but I am also a big worrier. Thx!

Also, sorry for all the typos - stupid iPad!

FOLLOW-UP: Well who know? Acid reflux causes a cough like this. The way we figured it out is that the asthma meds didn't help much. I have never had acid reflux symptoms until about 2 weeks into the cough. Now I have had an endoscopy and working on finding the cause of gastritis.

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answers from Washington DC on


I had a terrible cough for months. I could barely function at work. I owuld cough so hard I threw up almost every day, and I strained my ribs badly. The doctor did everything you describe. It finally went away, completely after all these things were done:

I took tons of Cod Liver Oil pills (not any old fish oil)
Inhaler with a steroid
I was giving 30 codeine pills (codeine cough syrup did next to nothing). This actually did it, I think. My cough stopped right after.
Looked after my immune system, took Vit. B, and tried to eat foods rich in B vitamins.

This is only if it continues for months. My doctor told me bronchitis was not an infection, but an immflamation, and that is what I had.

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answers from Chicago on

my husband is pulmonologist - if they want to call it asthma - you have to do a lung function test - calling it without the test is wrong.

seek second opinion - because your doctors' treatment is not the standard of care.

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answers from Kansas City on

I agree with Kristi B.

I am a nurse that worked as a pulmonary clinician in a large suburban hospital then went to work for a couple of pulmonologists in their office. You can't just diagnose asthma by symptoms alone. It could be a variety of other things as the other posters have said.

Also, most doctors and eve allergists will just do a routine spirometry which will test over all lung volume, but to get a true picture of your lung function you need complete pulmonary function tests or PFT's, which are usually only done by a pulmonologist or in a hospital by an order of your doctor.

Then to test for asthma specifically, they used to do a methyl choline challenge test. I'm not sure if that is still done since I've been out of the office a few years. But you inhale an 'irritant' to see if it triggers brachial irritation. Of course ONLY done under supervised conditions.

Now, having said all of that, yes you can develop asthma as an adult. My own grandmother did. But as long as you pay attention and understand your triggers and symptoms it can be well controlled.

Oh and just as an FYI, my own mother (71 years old) was recently told by her GP that she had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and gave her a fist full of prescriptions. She followed up with a pulmonologist who did PFT's which were completely normal! And he told her she did NOT have COPD and not to take any of the meds.

I would definitely get a second opinion.

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answers from Boca Raton on

The fall before last I had a lingering dry cough for almost 2 months. It just about drove me crazy. It finally did go away (whew).

In addition to what your doctor suggests, I would try to boost my immune system as much as possible, and cut down on common food intolerances (for me it's dairy). I also try to drink lots of water through the day (I like to drink half my body weight in ounces - per day).


answers from Chicago on

I've had asthma my whole life. Attacks range from mild irritation and coughing - like you're describing - to me gasping for air and struggling to speak as a result. If it's allergic asthma, the attacks can improve just by moving away from what you're allergic to and into fresh air.

If it's truly asthma - the Singulair and resuce inhaler (ProAir?) will be more than enough for you.
Singulair will work immediately. You can take it daily, or as needed (which is what I do). It's not a steroid and doens't need build up. The rescue will also work immediately, as that's what it's designed to do.



answers from Las Vegas on

My family has asthma. Anything can trigger it. Wind/dust in the air, bad perfume, aerosol sprays, air fresheners, you name it, it can do it.

My daughter once went into a horrible asthma attack from the room deodorizer at her preschool. It smelled really powdery and when I picked her up, her breathing was so labored, I had to rush her to the doctor.

Just think how a headache can be triggered and you don't always know why. An asthma attack is the same.

Until you get it under control, it is best to walk out of a room if someone is using spray deodorant, hair spray, perfume, etc. and stay indoors if the wind is blowing. You wont see the particular matter with your eye, but your lungs will find it.

I stick to lemon tea when I get a cough. Mix your hot water with half a squeezed lemon and brew about 2 tablespoons of oregano in there for 3 minutes. Remove the oregano and mix in a spoonful of honey. Drink it 3 nights and mornings if possible. That should get rid of the cough.



answers from Honolulu on

I have Asthma. Have had it since childhood.

It could be a seasonal thing. Things in the air etc. That affects me too. Seasonally.

Asthma, is a constriction of the airways, hence, breathing is impaired. To put it simply. Thus, inhalers will serve to reduce that constriction. Or it could be said, inflammation. Inflammation constricts the airways.

Nebulizer... what are you using in it?
There are many types of Albuterol and inhaler meds.
These medicines are "corticosteroids." Or Bronchodilators or anti-inflammatory meds etc.

When my Asthma is bothering me... (and keep in mind the acuteness varies), I wheeze, and/or cough and/or have breathing trouble.

There are many breathing impairment conditions.
To get a real conclusive diagnosis, you need to see a Pulmonologist.

And yes, your coughing can return or not after these meds. Because, you do not know what is causing it or triggering it.

With Asthma, there are many triggers. And it WILL vary for each person.
It is not a one sized shoe fits all. Nor in treatment.

Singulair, is used for a variety of issues... from Asthma to sinus problems to allergies. And it takes a few days of taking it, for it to then take effect.

Or maybe, you have a throat problem.
Or a sinus drip problem. This can cause, coughing as well. Because post nasal drip, causes the gag reflex, and the person then coughs.

I once had laryngitis, with similar symptoms you are experiencing. And it got worse... when I talked a lot. I was also sick with a head cold at the time.

So it can be a variety of things.

And basically, your Doctor does not know... what it is, or even if it is just a cold. And is doing a process of giving your Singulair/nebulizer and seeing if that helps it.

Just as an example:
Here in Hawaii, when the winds are blowing a certain way... it also bothers some people and their breathing conditions. Because, it is basically the volcano "smog" that is blowing across the State. We call it "vog." It can really make some people just cough and cough.
So also, environmental things can also trigger coughing. And it is temporary, per that particular weather/wind patterns. It kicks up a lot of things in the air.
I get affected like that too. But at those times, it is not my Asthma, per say.

Does your city, have bad smog or bad air days???

Next: you are coughing... and it is exacerbated by talking and/or dust.
So, you did NOT mention, that it is your lungs, per say or that there is tightness in your chest/lungs. But you are coughing. It can be your throat or sinus post nasal drip too.

Coughs, arise from:
the chest/lungs, or
the Sinuses, post-nasal drip.
Or both.


answers from Norfolk on

We don't have any asthma.
I had a minor cold a few years back.
The cold got better quickly but the cough lasted 8 miserable weeks.
I went to the Dr - it wasn't pneumonia or bronchitis or whooping cough - I never even ran a temp.
The Dr said I was doing everything right.
I kept my fluids up, took vitamin C, steamed myself in the shower, kept a humidifier next to me at night, used a neti pot to rinse my nose out with warm saline, gargled with salt water, I rubbed Vick's on my chest every night (tried the feet/socks thing but it did nothing for me) etc.
It just took a long time to finally leave.
The Dr prescribed me a little cough medicine with codine in it to help quiet the cough (my ribs were getting sore from it) so I could at least sleep a little better at night.
You might want to try this steam inhaler (it really helped me a lot):


answers from Redding on

There has been a "thing" going around this spring, I've had it, my hub has had it. It's a cough that lasts for several months... dry... sometimes productive... and VERY annoying.
I've chalked it up to allergy even tho neither of us have had allergies in the past, but from what I've read --this year is really bad for allergies for those who have never had any.
Having a doc tell you that you have asthma out of the blue, well, I think they are lazy and just want to put you on a nebulizer for profit.
That's my thoughts.
Since my and my husbands two month coughing spree finally just quit a few days ago.



answers from Omaha on

A few months ago, I started doing an exercise bootcamp with my neighbor. It had been some time since I had exercised in this manner, so I was a bit out of shape. I noticed shortly after that I would have a dry, wheezy kind of cough. It wasn't very productive in producing phlegm when I would clear my throat. I noticed cold things like ice water or talking would bring on a coughing fit. I finally went to my doctor and she diagnosed me with exercise induced asthma. She gave me an inhaler to take 30 minutes prior to exercise, but I could also take it about every 4 hours 3 or 4 times per day. It did take about a week or so for the cough to go away.
Also, acid reflux can produce a cough like this, so if you have been eating a lot of rich or spicy foods or notice this cough comes on you when laying down, it could be that. Have your doctor prescribe omperazole (prilosec) and that should help too. Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

My son had a constant cough that kept up and got to the point where he was coughing every 30 seconds. no wheezing. we thought it was related to a cold or bronchitis. took him to his ped. 2x. told to give him cough medicine. cough kept getting worse. son kept getting weaker from all the coughing.

we just happened to have an allergist appt the next week and that dr. reamed us up one side and down the other. can't you see he's having an asthma attack? we felt so bad. now we know.

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