Why won't this persistent cough go away?

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 10, 2016
Cougher asked...

I've had persistent coughing for the last six months, hoarseness and a low grade fever. My chest and back area hurt due to the persistent cough. It is a hacking cough. I've been on several different types of antibotics, cough medication with codeine, a Z - pak, steroid shot and OTC (over the counter) medication to no avail. I cannot speak for long periods without having a coughing spell that lasts for about ten minutes. I am beginning to lose energy and cannot sleep through the night due to the persistent coughing.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

I hope that you are being seen by a health care professional for this cough!  If not, then go see one right away.  If you have seen someone already and they haven't helped you, I would add that they need to send you to a pulmonologist (lung doctor) to see if anymore testing can be done to determine why you are coughing.

Many of the things that cause a chronic cough are:

  • Allergies/ Asthma
  • Acid reflux
  • Lung disease (chronic bronchitis- usually from smoking)
  • Medications (any of the ACE inhibitors)
  • TB
  • Lung cancer

If you are smoking- stop!  This will make coughing worse.  Pay attention to when the cough happens (all day, at night, in the morning).  Cut down on milk products, as this will reduce phlegm.

If you cannot see a pulmonologist because your insurance won't let you or you have no money, then insist that your health care professional really look into this problem. 

Good Luck!

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Because everytime I take my daughter to the doctor we see a different person. They always have some lame idea of what it is. The persistant cough never goes away.

Nay1957 answered...

If you or anyone has a PERSISTENT cough demand a chest x-ray. An x-ray could have saved my sisters life. For months she had a cough and was on several types of antibiotics. When she went to one doctor he ordered a chest x-ray and they found she had non small cell lung cancer. I'm not saying everyone who has a cough has lung cancer, I'm saying your body is throwing out warning signs. Listen to what it's telling you. X RAY...X RAY...XRAY...X RAY!

A fellow caregiver answered...

I agree with Nay1957. X-Ray! I had a cough we thought was due to a cold. I went to my doctor and was treated for Bronchitis, still got worse with fever, next diagnose was pneumonia, X-Rayed sent to a lung doctor still no diagnose. I was sent to CDC and found out I had contracted TB. Took two months to diagnose me. Be persistent on help.

J.sal answered...

The above answers ae all good advice. I had a persistent cough with phlem always at my throat for 4 years. first 3 were seasonal but this year it never went away. My Doc said Acid reflux. I was told to take omeprazole and allergy meds. Did not work for me. He did not want to refer for x-ray or throat scope to rule out cancer. I changed doctors. New doc took x-ray and blood test for 'Helicobacter Pylori infection". This test came back positive. I was given anti-biotics for a 10 day treatment plan. I am on my 4th day and cough is going away :- ). Helicobacter Pylori is a bacterial infection in stomach. I hope this helps a lot of people! I know how miserable life can be trying to figure out that cough.

Jeff in austin answered...

I have had a cough for years here in Austin, Texas where the cedar trees and mold go wild. I promised myself when I got done with the work project, I would go seek out a remedy for this persistent cough that I have had for years and years, and never bad enough to ask the doctor. Reading all these suggestions, reminded me that a doctor had told be 10 years ago that I had acid reflux and it was primarily caused by being too over weight. I think this needs to be fixed before I go to other remedies. I don't remember seeing much written on this solution. I remember this doctor saying, "the entire USA is over medicating themselves with the like of Nexium when they really just need to loose weight. Your fat is pushing up on your tubes back up into your throat." It was one of the most insightful diagnosis I've ever gotten. Loose weight my friends.