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Can't stop coughing.

naengwennaengwen Registered User regular
edited January 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
Around Sunday this week, I started to feel the effects of a bacterial infection via the worst sore throat I've had in over a decade, a whole lot of mucus buildup, swollen lymph nodes along upper jugular area below the back of the jawbone, and a minor fever(99-101F). On Tuesday night, I started having these coughing fits. Every breath tickles the back of my throat until I can't help but cough. This has kept me from getting a good night's sleep... or any sleep at night, for that matter.

Tried the following:
- Lemon juice & honey(since Sunday, one during the day, one at night before bed. Since Tuesday, added one more 3 or 4 hours later mixed with peppermint)
- Nyquil (tried Tuesday/Wednesday nights, stopped after noting left arm numbness during the duration of the dosage)
- Robitussin Cough & Cold CF Max (tried twice Thursday, no numbness but no difference either)
- Eucalyptus cough drops (pop in a few every now and then)
- Roughly every sleeping position possible (standing has worked better than other positions, though it's not easy to sleep standing up)
- Vicks Vaporub (every night, helps for a while and effects are almost immediate, additional applications on the same night don't help at all)

Tonight I'm coughing the same amount as I was Tuesday, but without any of the mucus to show for it, and some soreness in the chest the morning after. Fever stopped Wednesday, and the sore throat isn't even there anymore until night time. Coughing occurs during the day, too, especially while speaking, but it's usually isolated coughs and occurs roughly 3 or 4 times over 10 minutes versus the bunch of single coughs every minute + fit every 10 minutes or so that I get around bed time.

Doc prescribed amoxacillin, and to get back to him Monday if the cough persisted. Problem is, I'd rather not have to wait that long to return to my normal sleep schedule. Any thoughts or additions to the list above?

naengwen on


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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Are you taking what he prescribed and it's not helping?

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    naengwennaengwen Registered User regular
    He prescribed the amoxacillin on Thursday, then recommended sudafed during the day, nyquil at night, and tylenol when I could. Taking the sudafed and amox on schedule, but skipping the nyquil because of the side effect mentioned above(not to mention it didn't help a bit), and swapped tylenol with advil until I go to the pharmacy tomorrow(forgot it on my first trip, then again after work today).

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    Raif SeveranceRaif Severance Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    First off, do you take any other medications on a regular basis?

    If you are not in any pain then there is no reason to take the Tylenol or ibuprofen. In addition, Nyquil has Tylenol as one of its ingredients so keep an eye on your total intake there (no more than 3 grams a day). There is a "behind the counter" cough syrup called Robitussin AC that you can try that you can get without a prescription (at least here in the US). This is guaifenesin with codeine. Codeine is an opiate but is actually really great at cough suppression and the guaifenesin will help with chest congestion. You should be able to get a 4 oz bottle if you ask the pharmacist and you may have to show ID and sign something. The codeine will make you drowsy so keep that in mind if you try it. Last thing is to make sure you are drinking copious amounts of clear liquids.

    One more thing you could try are Tessalon pearls which do require a prescription from your doctor.

    Raif Severance on
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    etdragonetdragon Registered User regular
    What you can try in place of the Nyquil at night is an antihistamine like Benedryl. They have the effect of drying out the mucus which is what is causing the tickle that produces the cough. Medicines like Dimetap Cold and Cough also have an antihistamine in them in addition to a cough suppressant which would help as well. Those kinds of meds traditionally only stay in your system for 4-6 hours but it might help you get to sleep which would improve your situation.

    The infection will likely clear up in approximately 3-4 doses of the amox but that cough will persist, likely for days after you finish the prescribed dose of antibiotic. That nasty cough stuck around with both my son and I for quite a while because the mucus was still hanging around.

    If you have pain or inflammation the advil will actually work much better than the Tylenol and it's safer to use for prolonged periods of time (think regular doses for a few days).

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    EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    edited January 2012
    Yeah, I usually use Benadryl as part of my sickness regimen... It dries out any mucus in the nose every time and usually helps my throat/chest a lot if that's clogged as well. I also constantly down citrus-based teas (including, yeah, lemon) and that usually helps with both the congestion and the tickling. Pretty much any tea (well, any hot liquid that doesn't contain much sugar) helps, really, but citrus is much better. While I understand the temptation in your situation, I personally never use anything with a cough suppressant in it, because A) I do technically have asthma and using that stuff can actually make you worse if you do, and B) it's good if you can cough that stuff out because it'll make you both feel and actually get better. So I personally use plain guaifenesin, no dextromethorphan, which Robitussin does make as well, though it's hard to find (usually labeled "chest congestion" or something, I think... you just need to check the ingredients). But like I said, that's just me, and I understand if you want to use something with a cough suppressant in it since you can't sleep.

    I think I have a better solution than that stuff, though. Uhh, I assume you're in the US, and while I'm pretty sure this stuff is sold there I'm not 100% positive (never knew about it when I was last living there, only learned about it later... it's definitely sold in Canada)... but see if you can find some Fisherman's Friend lozenges at your grocery store. That stuff is awesome for soothing your cough and sore throat. It was originally created to help fishermen with those sorts of problems, and it really works (especially the extra-strong ones). I just got over what I presume was the flu, and my fiance kept begging me to have another one of those whenever I would start coughing again. I didn't like the particular flavor we had accidentally gotten (liquorice, bleh) so I wasn't taking it as much, but I was definitely willing to deal with the taste since I was having trouble sleeping due to the cough. The effect doesn't necessarily last all that long, but it should give you relief enough that you can fall asleep for a while. It feels like your throat is cleared and you stop having the ticklish feeling, so that's all good stuff.

    Essee on
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    naengwennaengwen Registered User regular
    Yeah, after last night I suppose there isn't really much pain anymore @Raif Severance. Might not need to worry about pain suppressants anymore if they aren't doing anything about the irritation(doesn't feel like they are).

    Oh yeah, Benadryl's an antihistamine too. I'll give it a shot, thanks @etdragon. And yeah, that's fair enough; I always preferred advil to tylenol for sinuses, just wasn't sure if that was the case for throat pain as well. Guess a pain suppressant's a pain suppressant, though.

    I'll see if I can find those lozenges, @Essee. Don't know if I'd find it at the grocer, but it might be at the pharmacy.

    Thanks for the suggestions, folks, I'll keep 'em in mind for tonight!

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    L Ron HowardL Ron Howard The duck MinnesotaRegistered User regular
    A thing I've done that's worked in the past is make a cup of tea and put a Hall's drop (or something similar) in it and drink the whole thing.

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    matt has a problemmatt has a problem Points to 'off' Points to 'on'Registered User regular
    As a kid we always got Delsym, the orange flavored kind since it actually tasted pretty decent. It's a time-release cough suppressant, and is still the only thing that lets me sleep when I have a cough even as an adult.

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    etdragonetdragon Registered User regular
    I hope the Benadryl gives you a little relief. For throat pain I've always gone with advil over tylenol because advil has anti inflammatory properties that are pretty well understood. The other benefit is it just lasts longer per dose. Feel better soon!

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    E.CoyoteE.Coyote Registered User regular
    I second the tea, hot liquid can work wonders.

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    Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    No, he should take ibuprofen or some sort of NSAID (tylenol, aspirin, aleve, etc.). It has anti-inflammatory properties as well, which will help the sore throat. The antibiotics will do nothing for the symptoms (you're still going to feel like shit), but it will prevent a secondary infection of other loci (like your heart valves). You started taking them a bit late, so you aren't going to see much of a reduction in duration (maybe shave off 1 day of feeling really sick at most).

    Your sleep schedule is already thrown out of whack. Just try to get sleep at any point that you can during the day and worry about fixing your sleep schedule later. The more sleep you have, the sooner you'll start to feel better, if this is just a simple infection.

    Hahnsoo1 on
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    naengwennaengwen Registered User regular
    For what it's worth,

    @essee, couldn't find the lozenges at the pharmacy. I'll keep 'em in mind in case I find them somewhere else, though.

    @matt has a problem, haven't tried Delsym before; I'll take a look next time I'm at the pharmacy, but for now antihistamines seem to be the right direction; think the mucus is the core of the problem.

    @hahnsoo1, that's about right. Stopped feeling really sick on Friday, just been dealing with the coughing and mucus mostly. I've been getting sleep when I can, just prefer a means of getting it back to normal is all.

    Speaking of, last night I tried just that. About the time I started to cough like crazy, I prepped and drank some hot tea with @L Ron Howard's suggestion. Took some Benadryl, put on some Vaporub, and headed to bed. Took about 15 minutes of positioning, but eventually the coughing settled down and I managed to get some sleep. Woke up around 5 with a really heavy cough, but after grabbing a drink I finished out the night sleeping.

    So I guess Benadryl, Vaporub and some hot tea's the adequate combination for now. Thanks guys!

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