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Coughing, trouble breathing, clear Xray?

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Old 04-25-2013, 12:04 AM   #1
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Thumbs down Coughing, trouble breathing, clear Xray?

I'm 17, I do not and never have smoked.
When I was young I was known for some respiratory issues and was exposed to heavy secondhand smoke. I was told that when I was still an infant I had a severe case of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), which became almost critical several times and I was hospitalized and when finally released placed in a car seat to sleep so I wouldn't suffocate for a long time for the infection to pass.

Well I'd say a year or two back, my little brother and I got sick and when we were taken into the nearby clinic the doctor diagnosed us with Bronchitis, gave us an antibiotic and sent us home. My brother was fine, other than now he weirdly gets a weird mucus-y cough when he drinks too much milk. But the coughing never really stopped with me.

It was never really bad, just a cough almost like an avid smoker and some "rattling" or wheezing at random times but most often when I laid down.
But then when I was attending a trade school that left me in harsh dry aired winters and exposed to more heavy secondhand smoke the coughing became worse and worse. Some of my instructors noticed the cough right away and would often note that I "still had that cough" after several months in the program.
A usual cough quickly became a usual cough, slight trouble breathing (as if someone was sitting on me) and some heavy "fits" of coughing. Sometimes productive and other times not. But the fits soon became attacks, where I could not stop harshly coughing to the point were I could not breathe and often bruised my ribs. These fits were remedied with hot liquids and sitting in steam. When that didn't work anymore, I was given an albuterol inhaler and antibiotics. The cough and fits still didn't cease or lessen in anyway. In fact, the fits became worse where I would pass out from not being able to breathe. I was taken to the ER where I was given an emergency respiratory steroid and two nebulizer treatments to regulate my breathing, which had dropped as far down as 68%.

The respiratory specialist did the average checks and noted still some tightness in my lungs. But when X-rayed as far as I'm aware, there was nothing notable in the image. Now due to the activity within the ER that night (probably about the same as every night: crazy as hell), I didn't get a clear talk with the doctor. We didn't discuss what could be causing these issues, and I'm guessing he recommended to see another doctor or specialist that could further look into the problem. This was a few months ago.
All of this was in a range of 7-8 months.

But now I'm in a situation where I won't have insurance for another 5 months. Now back in warmer air I don't seem to be having major issues, still a nasty cough and a little trouble breathing, but it feels like it's slowing building up to this point again.
Does anyone know what this could possibly be and maybe how to treat it before I'm unable to breath? This issues are really beginning to limit me whereas I can't participate in the same activities my family often indulges in, I can't exercise properly though I'd really love to lose some weight, and everyday things become harder and harder. I find myself gasping for air and working hard to breathe and I could be doing something as simple as the dishes or even lounging on the couch. I still have my inhaler and maybe use more than I should because it becomes so difficult to breathe.

If you can tell me anything that would be great. Thanks.

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Old 04-25-2013, 12:48 AM   #2
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Re: Coughing, trouble breathing, clear Xray?

The symptoms you describe and response to treatment are suggestive of asthma, which causes bronchial spasm and inflammation. The bronchospasm can be brought on by cold air, damp air, smoke, pollens, pollution, fumes, infection, allergens (like cat hair), dust, etc. plus exercise induces it in some people. There are pulmonary function tests that are used to help diagnose it, and many forms of treatment are available to prevent the spasm, not just relieve it once it is occuring. A pulmonologist should be consulted, and I would do that now. Rescue inhalers like albuterol are often not enough, and prevention is a better approach. Staying away from known allergens, dust, smoke, etc is a big part of treatment. Albuterol can be used 5-10 minutes before exercise to improve your exercise tolerance. This should be taken very seriously, as untreated asthma can lead to emphysema in time, which is permanent lung damage that can be disabling. You had a serious attack if oxygen dropped to 68%, and that can happen again without warning. So please see a Dr for diagnosis and treatment to get it under control.

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