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Night Cough/Desperate/Help anyone?

Vivi C's picture
Vivi C
Posts: 70
Joined: Jul 2010

I am 7 weeks post rad tx. and I have this nightly cough that keeps me up most of the night. I am absolutely desperate as I can't sleep and I am so exhausted. I have this very salty phlegm that starts in the early evening hours every single night and then I cough of and on most of the night. Doctor's have no idea and keep guessing that it could be acid reflux so I am taking Prevacid and having my last meal by 6:30 or 7 PM and sleeping with several pillows but nothing seems to help. Anyone out there had a similar experience? Any input would be so appeciated as I am desperate. Thank you and God Bless.

Lena Rose
Posts: 73
Joined: Apr 2010

My husband had a similar experience post rad. He took an antacid and mucinex to help dry things up. He kept a spit cup next to the bed along with a glass of water. The mucous and ropey phlegm were the worst post treatment. The phlegm will get to be less and less, even though it doesn't seem like it now. Hang in there, all the best to you.

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

Was just b/$ching about my nightly tickle and cough last night as I was up until 6am. Drove me crazy. No matter what I have tried I cannot get rid of the tickle and it makes my right eye year uncontrolably and I end up coughing til I gag. Glenna reccomended I try the baking soda and water rinse I will try that tonight.

Not exactly same problem as you but annoying nonetheless.

I hope you figure out something that works.

D Lewis's picture
D Lewis
Posts: 1533
Joined: Jan 2010

An ancient Chinese philosopher (it might have been Confucius) once said...
"The only way to truly escape your fate is to embrace it."

I believe every one of us suffers from a variety of lingering effects that seriously interfere with our ability to get a good night's sleep. We all cough, we gag, we have tickles, pains, reflux, etc. My biggie is a mouth so dry that I wake up, roughly every one or two hours, feeling like I'm doing one of those Jim Carrey imitations, with my lips stuck to my dry teeth and my tongue stuck to the dry roof of my mouth. I have to roll over, grab the water bottle, and try to un-stick all my parts. Then, I have to get up and pee. I am, however, getting better at figuring out how to go right back to sleep. If I go to bed early enough in the evening, I can usually convince myself that I've gotten enough sleep, albeit in one- to two-hour increments each. Last night, I was out long enough to have a pretty decent dream.

Hang in there. We are all experiencing our own special effects and trying to remain optimistic that they will diminish with time. I believe they will.

Vivi, you are one tough cookie. I know you can get through this.

Deb

D Lewis's picture
D Lewis
Posts: 1533
Joined: Jan 2010

I have had pretty good success with Children's Benadryl Elixer. I would suggest the adult version, but there may not be an adult Benadryl Elixer out there. I usually take about half the prescribed dosage, and find that it knocks me out for about four hours. It slows the post-nasal drip, which in my case is what contributes to the coughing and sniffles. Also, Benadryl seems to help a bit with the swollen nasal passages, which I had previously attributed to edema(another persistent issue with me, but a topic for another post).

Hang in there, everyone! We WILL survive.

Deb

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5791
Joined: Apr 2009

Deb has a good point on the Benadryl, I use NyQuil my self in ¼ the normal dosage and mix it with a little water. Also I am a lot more then 7 weeks out of treatment so the Alcohol in the product doesn’t affect me swallowing it like it might do you, be careful if you try it. Also at night I use a spray called Stoppers 4 for dry mouth it helps me get a better night sleep. If you want to try it you can get it at www.drougstore.com

All the best to you

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

When I finally deplete my biotene and other dry mouth stuff I am going to order the stoppers. Hoping that will work better for me than the others. They burn, and I still feel really dry when I use them.

Vivi C's picture
Vivi C
Posts: 70
Joined: Jul 2010

You are all such amazing, caring people. What a blessing to be able to get your input. It really helps when you think that you are the only way experiencing these weird symptoms. My speech pathologists wants to do a swallowing barium test to make sure that I am not aspirating as she is concerned with all the coughing. I am not sure that I want to do that just now. The last thing I need right now is more radiation, right? Any ideas? Did any of you have the barium swallowing test done after radiation? I still have a feeding tube (it has been 7 weeks post rad. I have been drinking Ensure by mouth. It is pretty much the only thing that I can tolerate. Everything else burns my left ear like crazy. Did anyone out there experience the burning in the ear/ears? Doctors keep telling me that my ears look fine and that is probably referred pain from the throat. Peachy! I am off pain meds. Had a Fentanyl patch for a while but went off it recently. God Bless you all for being such caring people. I wish you all joy and peace and love. Vivi

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

Vivi, I had two swallowing tests, one pre and one post rads. They are easy peasy. I've had three dialations one pre and two post. I had bad heart burn during rads and for a while after but it's gone now. Also suffered from it for years before the first time I was stretched but the stretching helped that. I also get the referred pain in my ears. Your heart burn may clear up in time.

oldcamper
Posts: 27
Joined: Oct 2010

I do get some preasure on the left ear, Post everything. I have been tracking when it seems to occure and it seems that when my neck muscles are over working then my ear seems to get an under pressure fealing.

Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2194
Joined: Nov 2009

Vivi,
I had a direct link between throat and ear pain. During part of treatment, I knew that when I took my pain meds (liquid, by mouth) or swallowed certain things (sometimes it was just water) my throat would burn, and my ear would kick in right away.

To fight the throat tickles, you might also try a humidifier and Netti pot (netti pot is to irrigate the sinus canal - you pour water in one nostril, and let it flow out of the other - it's creepy and feels gross at first, but it makes a difference. Do well.

Greend's picture
Greend
Posts: 679
Joined: Feb 2010

I know this may sound crazy but I buy the saline nasal spray by the case. This is the only thing I have found that gets rid of that "tickle that drinking won't touch". Also in the early days I had a nasal contraption that attached to a WaterPic and that helped as well. You hold it in one nostril and thrun it on; start on a low setting. If you have't used it before then be prepared, the water doesn't go down you throat, it comes out the other nostril. I think I paid $9.00 or so for it at an on-line stroe for mine.

Vivi C's picture
Vivi C
Posts: 70
Joined: Jul 2010

I appreciate all your input and suggestions sooo much. You are all such caring people. A friend of mine who had neck cancer told me today that he needed an Ativan every night to sleep. I don't like taking meds but I am getting desperate for some sleep as it is catching up with me and I can't seem to sleep during the day because my days revolve around sipping that darn Ensure (the only thing that does not burn my left ear. I am so tired of Ensure and I want this tube out sooo bad. Am I expecting too much too fast? (it's been 7 weeks since I finished rad tx.)

Also, what kind of vitamin supplements are you all taking following treatment. My doctors are not very helpful and keep telling me to take a multivitamin but my hemoglobin and hematocrit are still low. Any suggestions? Thank you guys.

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

The only thong that I am taking is the L-Glutamine, a liquid multivitamin without iron, and a liquid immune booster. I can't swallow pills so I get the liquid. When I could tolerate juicing I would just throw it in my juice and drink it.

You might be expecting a little too much. It sounds to me like you are right on track. You are miles ahead of where I was at 7 weeks. :) which I am glad that you are!

I understand being sick of Ensure. I think we can all relate. Lol.

Sounds like you are doing well! Keep it up.

Sweet

Vivi C's picture
Vivi C
Posts: 70
Joined: Jul 2010

Thanks Sweet! You are so kind. How long has it been for you? Is your liquid vitamin something you buy over the counter or do you need a Rx? I am crusing a multi vitamin, a D and calcium and putting it down the tube with a smoothie. Were you anemic after treatment? Thanks again, Viv

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

I am 17 months out. I Found my swollen lymph node two years ago on oct 9th 2008. Had a neck dissection in January 2009. They took my left salivary gland, and 23 lymph nodes three were positive. Stage 4 unknown primary. I am also a Fanconi Anemia patient which is the reason I ended up with the HNC. My counts were actually fine thru rads which is pretty amazing. FA patients usually do not live long lives and often end up with bone marrow failure.

I got my vitamins from a place that sells vitamins and is also a "wholefoods" store. The multivitamin is called 'Buried Treasure VM-100 complete' has vitamins, minerals & antioxidants. The. I have 'Barlean's fresh pressed olive leaf complex' it is supposed to support healthy immune system, healthy joints, blood pressure and cardio health. The L-glutamine is Pro Performance from GNC.

Bigfuzzydoug's picture
Bigfuzzydoug
Posts: 154
Joined: Jul 2010

I'm off to the pharmacy this morning for a Rx refill of Hydrocodone. It's pretty much all that works for my cough. Got to be careful on the dosage. Too much and it makes me sick to my stomach. There's a fine line just the right amount to take.

I also advise to sleep somewhat upright so that any sinus drainage goes all the way down and doesn't pool in your throat and bother you. If you have thick mucous issues, Mucinex to loosen it up is good to.

Vivi C's picture
Vivi C
Posts: 70
Joined: Jul 2010

I'm assuming that your name is Doug and NOT Big or Fuzzy? :)
I hope and pray that you get some rest today/tonight. How long have you been dealing with the cough? Is it only at night? What are the doctor's telling you? What is your diagnosis and where are you in your treatment or post treatment? Do you have a PEG or are you swallowing? Sorry, that's a lot of questions. Just trying to figure out the similarities.

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5791
Joined: Apr 2009

You might also ask your doc if it would be OK to start using a Nasal Rinse at night to remove some of the mucous. I use it three times a day just to keep clear

Hope you get something that works well for you,

Bigfuzzydoug's picture
Bigfuzzydoug
Posts: 154
Joined: Jul 2010

That's been an Internet screen name of mine for many years on many boards. It comes from the fact that I'm a big (was 230lbs, now 215lbs) former bodybuilder, turned triathlete. And I'm a naturally very hairy guy (although I do manscape and keep myself trim). But I'm the only football-playyer-looking guy without shaved legs doing the 100-mile ride with the cycling group filled with little 135lbs, smooth-skinned, speedsters. Big+Fuzzy+Doug = Bigfuzzydoug! ;-)

Enough of that. Let's see if I can answer your litany of questions...

How long have you been dealing with the cough? 20+ years. The town I grew up in, Pompton Lakes, NJ was subject to toxic dumping by a DuPont munitions plant. I have scar tissue on my epiglotus and throat that was there long before the cancer. Colds and sinus drainage would exasberate it. Lately it's probably the mucous drainage from the inflamation from the radiation that's been bothering it. I could always sleep through the night, but lately (past 3 weeks) it's been waking me up at night.

Is it only at night? I cough sporadically during the day as well. But of course when it wakes you up or keeps you up in the middle of the night, the impact is much much more.

What are the doctor's telling you? What I already know. Hydrocodone and Mucinex. I also take 6mg of Melatonin to try and stay in a deeper sleep. I notice I'm up right around the 4-hour mark when the Hydrocodone starts to wear off. Last night I took my dosage at 9pm and went to bed. I was awakened right at 1am, took another dose of Hydrocodone and popped some Halls lozenges and read for 30minutes until it started to kick in, then went back to bed. I then managed to make it until 6am when my alarm went off.

What is your diagnosis and where are you in your treatment or post treatment? Laryngeal SCC, stage-2, no metastisis, no lymph node, HPV+, 3 weeks post from 35 rounds of IMRT radiation therapy.

Do you have a PEG or are you swallowing? Never had a PEG. I forced myself to continue to eat solids (albeit soft solids) all throughout the treatment. Radiation for me was totally jawline down, so I didn't have it as rough as many others here. Dropped only 15 pounds and still managing to swallow normal foods.

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