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Severe coughing, phlegm and trouble swallowing when eating

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Old 02-23-2012, 10:42 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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vyacheslav HB User
Severe coughing, phlegm and trouble swallowing when eating


This is my first post, and I am glad to be here! Let me give you a background on what I have been experiencing. I apologize in advance if it is too long winded or overly-detailed, but I just want to be as thorough as I can.

For the last 4 years or so, I have had an uncontrollable and involuntary cough anytime I eat anything. It doesn't matter what kind of food it is. Soup, pasta, tacos, cookies, steak, rice, salad, pizza. ANYTHING! I have no food allergies at all. It happens every single time I eat, starting with the first bite. I also cough for about 30-60 minutes after I have finished eating. On top of this, I also get lots of mucus and phlegm drainage in my nose and throat. It's always from my neck up (it never affects my chest). It's as if I am perfectly fine before I start eating, and then suddenly after a few minutes of eating it's like I have a very bad head cold. Sniffling, runny nose, occasional sneezing and lots of phlegm. When I blow my nose, it's always clear. Again like the coughing, this continues from the first bite until about 30-60 minutes after I finish eating. I also get lots of plegm in my throat, and I am CONSTANTLY having to clear my throat (the famous "mmm-MMM", like I am trying to get someone's attention). I'll clear my throat and have to clear it again about 5 seconds later. Literally. If I try to talk, it sounds like I am underwater. It always bothered me when people cleared their throat all the time as sort of nervous habit, and now I am one of those people. However, it is certainly not for a nervous habit, it is a complete necessity!

I am also experiencing trouble swallowing while eating, along with the above mentioned problems. Again, this occurs during the first bite, and lasts until about 30-60 minutes after eating. It feels like my windpipe is constricted. It feels like someone is squeezing it. If I take too big of a bite, I will sometimes feel like I am choking and can't breathe. Again, I'll stress that all of these symptoms happen EVERY SINGLE TIME I eat ANYTHING, no matter what kind of food it is.

All of the above also happens to me on a nightly basis when I lay down to go to sleep. Whether it's been 5 minutes or 5 hours since I've last eaten anything, I still get the same symptoms. It's not the coughing as much as it is the phlegm in the throat and the trouble swallowing (saliva), although the phlegm in the throat does make me cough. What really seems to bring these symptoms on before bed is brushing my teeth. I know this sounds odd, but brushing my teeth seems to "dry" my mouth out. I drink several small cups of water after I finish brushing, but it never helps. I have also tried not drinking water, with the same results.

I have been to 3 different specialists, including a ENT specialist who used the camera to go up my nose and down my throat. I have had a complete CT scan of my lungs and upper body. All of them (as well as my General Family Health Doctor) all have the same answer: Everything is normal! Well, I think after my descriptions of above, it is most certainly NOT normal.

I was tested for Asthma and the general consensus among my regular doctor and one of the specialists is that I have a low level of Asthma. I don't believe this for a minute, and I can give you three reasons as to why I think it is NOT Asthma:

1. It ONLY happens when I eat or lie down at night (I'm fine any other time, including being outdoors or in smokey bars etc.)

2. The inhaler they prescribed to me does ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING for my symptoms. It doesn't help at all. ZERO!

3. During the Asthma test, I was just getting over a severe cold and sinus infection and could barely breathe normally without coughing as it was. I told the tester that, but it didn't seem to matter.

Over time, my symptoms have been getting worse. It's really embarassing in restaurants and public places, and being out with friends who don't know about these issues. I have just about reached my wits end. I am not sure what else to do. I would like to get a 4th and 5th opinion from a specialist, but I'm afraid they'll just tell me the same thing as the others, not to mention my out of pocket costs from my previous visits were substansial, and I have good health insurance.

If anyone out there has anything at all that would help me, I would certainly really appreciate it. I have pretty much given up and just learned to live with my symptoms, but that certainly isn't very much fun and don't want to have to "settle" anymore. It's gotten to the point where the symptoms are worsening enough, and I am tired of it enough to want to seek help on this forum.

Thank you for your time everyone!

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Old 02-24-2012, 09:27 PM   #2
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Re: Severe coughing, phlegm and trouble swallowing when eating

That is classic "silent" acid reflux. It's called silent because you don't get heartburn, but you have every other symptom in the book. The coughing after meals is the absolute cincher.

See a gastroenterologist. An endoscopy might not reveal much in your case, but a barium swallow or pH study might show more.

Old 02-27-2012, 03:19 PM   #3
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 3
vyacheslav HB User
Re: Severe coughing, phlegm and trouble swallowing when eating

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. I am going to try some OTC treatments first (Prilosec or the store brand equivalent) to see if that helps. Either way, I will be going to the doctor within the next month or so, as I turn 40 in one month. I am going to try the Prilosec to see if it helps any. That way, I can tell my doctor if it helps or not. If we need to go further with testing, I will certainly go that route. Thanks for your help!

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