Medical Specialty >> Pulmonology

Doctors Lounge - Pulmonology Answers

Back to Pulmonology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: Recurring cough

 Grommit - Sat Oct 20, 2007 4:30 pm

I'm a 55 yo male and have had this problem since I was 18. It started one nite after breathing in a lot of second hand smoke at a restaraunt. A post nasal drip cough started and ran for about 14 days. Nothing I took over the counter would help it and by the time it ended I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

Another exposure to cigaret smoke kicked it off again and as before, it ran for about 14 days. I would get this thing 2 or three times a year. It was always a clean cough and there was no fever, just a lot of lost sleep and a boost in sales for the makers of Contact, cough syrups and the like.

When I was 19 I had my tonsils removed as that was the diagnosed cause. I hope the doctor liked his new golf clubs.

I got the cough again within a few months. Through the years I would get it a couple or few times a year, sometimes set off by smoke, other times by something else. As I aged, my sensitivity to the cigaret smoke decreased.

When I lived in Tucson the spring bloom of everything that people dragged to the desert would set it off and as usual, it lasted for about 2 weeks. A doctor there gave me an injection of a cortizone and that stopped it immediately and I still worship his memory as it was the only thing that ever gave me instant relief. He said I could have the one injection a year without side effects.

While living in Georgia, I was able to get in and see a doctor while I actually had the thing and he did a throat culture and said it looked like a bronchial infection that was set off by something that I was allergic to.

I now live in the Pacific Northwest and have been getting this about once a year and have had all sorts of things prescribed including inhalers and nothing worked until I convinced my doctor to give me an anti-biotic and it went away within a few days. They thought I had some pneumonia but it was just the same old thing I'd had a hundred times before.

Now I have it again and the PA I saw at my HMO wouldn't give me an AB so I wasted more money on his prescribed cough suppressant and antihistamine so I guess I'll just suffer through until it goes away.

As an aside, my maternal grandfather developed emphysema from second hand smoke and died and I follow his geneology just about to the to the letter including his barrel chest.

I've been hospitalized twice in my life, for an appendectomy at age 5 and then the tonsilectomy at 19. There is no heart disease on my mother's side of the family. I currently take venlafaxine, 37.5 mgd.

I wish someone could tell me what this is and what causes it.
 Dr. Tamer Fouad - Sat Oct 20, 2007 9:03 pm

User avatar Hello,

I am not a pulmonologist, however, it is perfectly normal to have cough due to many different causes in the course of a lifetime. I wouldn't try to tie them all down to one cause. However, it seems that the recurring cough that is triggered off by an exposure to certain substances is an allergic type of cough which could be a manifestation of a minor degree of asthma among other things. Allergies respond very well to steroids. In other situations a productive cough would signifiy bacterial infection, hence the response to antibiotics.

I would recommend you discuss your condition with a pulmonologist if this is a recurring concern.

Please keep us updated.
 Grommit - Sat Oct 20, 2007 9:22 pm

I've been on Google so you could say I'm a little dangerous now but I read a lot about how COPD and barrel chestedness are intertwined and that COPD can actually be a cause of it. I thought you were just borne that way but now I'm not so sure and not so sure that what I have isn't indicative of something that had been just lying in wait until it surfaced when I was 18 and could be more serious down the road. My grandfather was 67 when his trouble started. His doctor had noticed some years before that he had a parylized diaphram which he felt could be a problem down the road. I read where barrel chested people could actually have a propensity for emphsema which eventually killed my grandfather........... and we always thought it was my grandmother that killed him (he always joked she'd be the death of him)

In any case I will be seeing a specialist for a complete workup.

Thanks again,
 Dr. Tamer Fouad - Sat Oct 20, 2007 9:44 pm

User avatar A barrell chest has specific clinical dimensions, I am positive any practitioner examining you would have caught it right away. It would also have shown up on a chest x-ray.

COPD is most commonly associated with chronic smokers. I was under the impression from your post that you were not a smoker. In any case both asthma and COPD are classified together as obstructive lung diseases and have a similar pattern in pulmonary function tests.

Be sure to update this thread when you do see a specialist. Good luck!

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us