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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Chest Diseases

Question: Coughingand sinus issues lasting for years

 franzy1 - Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:22 pm

Here is my background history: I am military. When I was in training I came down with the nastiest chest cold I've ever had. I was givin every medicine under the sun to help my cough but many did not work or merely just suppressed it. At that time I was located in Mississippi.

About four years ago my upper teeth started hurting really bad. I saw a dentist and after getting checked out and finding nothing wrong with my teeth, he said that it may be a sinus issue and the pressure in my sinuses was causing the pain. To this day I occasionally still have that pain in my upper teeth. This was when I was stationed in Idaho.

The next time I remember having cold problems was while being deployed to balad Iraq both times I had breathing and coughing issues. It wasnt so severe to the point that I couldn't run but it was still there. Again I was givin allergy medicine and couch drops which did very little. I was also subjected to poor air because of all the trash burning in my area on base.

While stationed in Korea I was misdiagnosed with the common cold which lasted nearly 3 months. I was finally was diagnosed with both bronchitis and sinusitis. It was the sickest I'd ever been for that amount of time and I was very miserable. My nickname in Korea was Outbreak Monkey because it seemed if there was a cold or flu to be caught, I was going to catch it.

If I get on planes, I'm almost guaranteed to catch something. To this day I have a random cough and if I laugh to hard I go into a deep old man sounding coughing fit. It's very painful. Also, I now live in NM.

Is this all circumstantial? Is it because I move around so much? Or should I be concerned and press my military doctors to really look at me? My mother onced said that ever since I joined it seems like I'm always catching something. I was hardly ever sick as a kid. Also, I am not a smoker. I really appreciate any help. Thank you
 Dr.M.Aroon kamath - Sun Jul 11, 2010 1:17 pm

User avatar Hi,
It has been noted that many chronic cough patients complain of an induced cough by cold air contact.

One study observed that In Lapland, the northernmost province of Finland, 10-19% of healthy subjects experience shortness of breath (SOB) during exercise in cold weather, with smoking being an important risk factor.Shortness of breath was also noted in a fairly large percentage (78-82%) of asthmatic subjects and 27-59% of subjects with chronic bronchitis.

Normally, by the time the cold air passes to the airways, its temperature is raised to near-body temperature by contact with the mucosa of the nasal cavity, nasopharynx, and the para-nasal sinuses.

This temperature exchange, however, is compromised under certain conditions such as,
- allergy,
- flu,
- exercise, and
- other respiratory diseases.

Exercise in cold weather can also result in the rapid inhalation of cold air into the trachea and bronchi, due to an insufficient warming resulting from too rapid flow of air.

Breathing of cold air without proper temperature exchange induces strong respiratory autonomic responses including
- cough,and
- airway narrowing, and
- increased mucosal secretions.
- derangement of mucociliary function.

The airway is lined by a thin layer of liquid, the airway surface fluid (ASL). Hyperpnea of cold air may cause the ASL to evaporate more rapidly than it can be replaced.The effect of cold air on the skin is mainly cooling, while the
effect on the airways is cooling + drying.This is believed to be one of the major factors in the causation of Cold air-provoked airway responses.
(Kotaniemi JT, Latvala J, Lundback B, Sovijarvi A, Hassi
J, Larsson K. Does living in a cold climate or recreational
skiing increase the risk for obstructive respiratory
diseases or symptoms? Int J Circumpolar
Health 2003;62:142-157).

You indicate that when you get into a plane's cabin, your cough tends to aggravate. Your overall history makes "Cold air-provoked airway responses" a strong possibility. It appears highly likely that you have an underlying airway hypersensitivity or a chronic lung disorder that is probably getting aggravated by inhalation of cold air +/- exercise.
Best wishes!

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