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Topic: cough with chemo

Forum: Managing Side Effects of Breast Cancer and Its Treatment —

This is a place to discuss concerns, tips and strategies for all types of side effects from all types of medications and treatments, (chemo/rads/hormonal/targeted/pain meds/etc.

Posted on: Nov 27, 2009 03:08PM

Jane_Stevenson wrote:

Has anyone had to deal with a constant cough during chemo?  At first I thought it was my Blood pressure meds, but that has been changed - and the cough continues.  I continually take cough drops and honey and nothing seems to help.  I've asked the ocologist about it, and she does not seem concerned.  It wakes me up at night so I do not get a good nights rest.  It's bad enough to have to deal with other side affects of the chemo, but this one is so annoying.  If anyone has any suggestions, I surely would appreciate any comments.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the comments on the homepage - it's very encouraging to hear someone say that there is life after chemo........ 

Gramma Jane

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Nov 27, 2009 03:12PM Texas357 wrote:

Yes, I had a cough that showed up after a month or so on chemo. It gradually subsided after chemo ended. Hope yours goes away soon!

DX 9/08, ILC, Stage 3A, ER+/PR+, HER2-, 7/13 pos nodes. Mastectomy & six months chemo & 32 rads.Prophy mx 8/09. Implant only on proph side; LD flap on rad side. 13 surgeries since diagnosis.
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Nov 27, 2009 03:29PM Jane_Stevenson wrote:

I surely hope it doesn't last that long......did you take anything for it, or just ride it out???

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Nov 29, 2009 03:38PM gogo_xago wrote:

Jane what drug does your chemo include? Some of them cause cough.

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Nov 29, 2009 07:19PM BlessedOne2 wrote:

Jane,  I'm sure that there are many of us who have experienced the same.  I certainly have.  It seems that for the last three months I have had a persistent cough.  Coughs are a common side effect of chemo and the medications we take during this journey, etc.  These tips may be helpful to you: sleep with a humidifier (you can use plain steam or add oils such as euculyptus or lavender), drink hot tea, cough drops, sleep slightly elevated.  My doctors haven't addressed it either.   If you search "common tips for dealing with persistent cough", you might find some other helpful tips.  I've misplaced my sheet so I can't include it here.   I hope that you find something that will work for you.


Dx 4/6/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 6/10/2009 Lumpectomy: Right Chemotherapy 7/15/2009 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 11/11/2009 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 1/23/2010 Breast Hormonal Therapy 3/5/2010 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Nov 30, 2009 12:14AM - edited Nov 30, 2009 12:15AM by SharaD

Sometimes the cough comes with the GERD that accompanies some treatment. Do you have heartburn, too? If so, a half-glass of water every half hour after eating might help "wash" everything down a bit better. With Gerd, things are constantly backing up and working their way back UP your throat, so you have to constantly try to help them move DOWNWARD instead.

The vaporizer all day and night will help, and dust your bedroom more often if coughing is waking you up at night as you are probably breathing in some dust from the room. One girl swears by a glass of water mixed w a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon of maple syrup, and a shake of cayenne pepper. Heat it up and drink slowly.

If indeed it is a GERD symptom, you'll have to raise the head of your bed by putting a few books underneath the bed posts. You'll be sleeping on a slight slant.

Dryness in the house will agravate any cough, so consider a humidifier or two vaporizers. At home depot, you can buy a humidity thermometer for your house (about $8.99?) The humidity should be about 40 or 50%, if it's any dryer then you need tp add some moisture to the air to help (just a bit) with that cough. A bad cough can lead to a sore throat, which I'm sure you don't need, so I hope you can get it under control.

Shara D Dx 8/8/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Dec 9, 2009 11:02AM Jane_Stevenson wrote:

Thank you for the input - the cough just continues - some days better than others.  I suck on cough drops regularly.

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Dec 9, 2009 11:18AM Jane_Stevenson wrote:

I will most definitely try the vaporizer - not much during day because I work everyday - but at night with the euculyptus.  The heartburn is most constant - never really goes away. 

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Dec 27, 2009 08:15PM Mouser wrote:

I'm witness that reflux can have a cough as its only symptom -- i've just started on a generic proton pump inhibitor, which elimiates stomach acid, and i'm *finally* losing the cough that started 2+ months ago!  And that didn't respond to either antibiotics or antihistamines. In my case it wasn't chemo that caused it; i recently developed a hiatal hernia - growing old is so much fun! - and that's a likely cause. But a friend of mine got bad reflux during chemo, so ....

Your onc or primary care should be able to get you on a PPI to see if it helps - my cough started improving after 2 pills, but it could take longer.  Don't ignore it -- reflux can cause long-term problems.(None of us here need more of those!) And i would get a prescription if at all possbile - it's available OTC, but pricey - and your doctors should know what you're taking!

mouser - IDC 0.4 cm + DCIS 1 cm, 2007; Stage 1, grade 2, ER+PR-, Her-; lumpectomy, rads, letrozole. More calcs 2008; mastectomy. Quit letrozole 10/09.
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Apr 11, 2012 05:40PM jdm21 wrote:

I'm a man with Stage 1, grade 3 breast cancer, and the cough in between chemo treatments gets worse each time.  Benadryl and Claritin haven't worked; I'm already on a PPI for reflux.  I am doing great otherwise and have enough energy to work but the cough is so bad I can't really function at work.  Next step may be something with codiene in it but that has its own side-effects.  Good luck, Jane.

Dx 1/5/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

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