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My husband, 1 month post EC surgery, developed constant dry cough

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2013

I'm new to the discussion board, but happy you're all out there. My husband had an esophagectomy Feb. 11th, had some major complications, but has been home 2 weeks now. He got great results from the surgical pathology report...cancer free right now! My concern is that in the last week he's developed a constant dry cough...day and night. Obviously this cough affects his ability to sleep and to eat and drink as well. It, more times than not, causes him to gag, get the dry heaves, or throw up. It's so difficult on him and difficult for me to watch. He's losing enough weight as it is without this. Has anyone experienced this complication? If so, how have you coped, and how long did the cough last. I've gone online to research it, and it seems to be a complication for many EC post surgery patients.

Thank you,

paul61's picture
Posts: 1107
Joined: Apr 2010

I had an Ivor Lewis esophagectomy in 2009 and I developed a dry cough that lasted approximately two months after my surgery. It did improve after the first month but did not completely go away for another month. I discussed it with my surgeon and she stated it is a common post surgery complication. She recommended OTC cough medication.

 I must admit that although my cough was bothersome and interfered with my sleep I never coughed to the point that it caused me to gag, get the dry heaves, or throw up”. I would suggest you discuss this with your surgeon and determine if your husband may need and esophageal “stretch”, also a common post surgery issue. Sometimes the anastomosis develops a small ridge of scar tissue that needs to be carefully stretched to keep food from collecting there and causing issues.


Best Regards,

Paul Adams

McCormick, South Carolina

DX 10/2009 T2N1M0  Stage IIB - Ivor Lewis Surgery  12/3/2009 - Post Surgery Chemotherapy 2/2009 – 6/2009

Cisplatin, Epirubicin, 5 FU - Three Year Survivor

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2013


Thanks for the reply. My husband's cough is so constant that it's debilitating right now. The thoracic surgeon put him on a cough med pill three times a day. He's getting little relief so far. The cough and its side effects are definitely slowing the recuperation process. It's so draining to cough every few minutes. I'll be calling the doctor again tomorrow to see what we can do. Thanks again for the support of just being there.

Stay Well,


Posts: 23
Joined: Aug 2012

My husband had his surgery in December.  He has had many post op complications including multiple resporitory failures which resulted in a traeche tube.  He coughs ALL the time.  He has also had pnuemonia twice and resporitory flu.  He is just now starting to turn a corner.  The cough is improving but still there.  He is doing breathing treatments with a nebulizer, takes the over the counter meds.  Sometimes he would cough until he threw up.  I wish I had a magic remedy.  If he is feeling well and there is no pneumonia and your weather is good try to get a walk in.  We have found that it gets everything moving.  I will be interested to see what works for you.  Good luck....I know how frustrating it is both for you and your husband.  Nobody gets sleep.

Posts: 155
Joined: Feb 2013

My father is scheduled for surgery.  I'm really worried about resporitory complications.  Did your husband have problems with resporitory before surgery?

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2013



I also just joined today and think that this is great resource for us.  I am 35 and underwent a eshagectomy 2 weeks ago.  I have been home for about a week now and my cough sounds exactly what your husband has had or still does.  I am wondering for one, how is he doing now, and is his cough improving or better and did he do anything to help the cough.




Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 2013

Sorry to hear that your husband has such a bad cough. I too have a dry cough. It began 1 month post Ivor-Lewis, it has lasted 7 months, but is getting much less frequent. I was prescribed Benzonate, 3 tines a day. I am now down to taking it just as needed.

By now I hope it has cleared up, or at least got much better.

Good Luck



sandy1943's picture
Posts: 883
Joined: Jun 2010

I had a very bad dry cough. My dr. prescribed cough medicine, but it didn't help that much. My recovery was in warm weather. I would sit as close to the air conditioning vent as I could and would sometimes put a fan in my face.The cold air blowing directly on me seemed to help, But I beleive it is a side effect tnat eventially goes away. It is miserable while it lasts.

So glad you are now on your way to recovery.


Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2013



I had transhiatal esopghagectomy in September 2012.  I had a persistent cough also.  I was taking Lisinopril for my blood pressure.  My surgeon took me off that and I saw immediate improvement.  He said all medications that end in "pril" are known to sometimes cause that.  Praying for the best for you.



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