#1
Old 12-15-2003, 10:41 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Chicago
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My lungs itch

I'm on the recovery slope of my annual bronchitis-pneumonia jag. Though I'm finally out of chunky phlegm*, I'm not nearly done coughing. My lungs itch, and I can't seem to cough deep enough to scratch them. I cough deeper and deeper, till my face is bulging and purple, and my back hurts, and my stomach muscles feel like i'm halfway through done 93,187,285 situps, and my voice is a flutey whisper, but my goddam lungs still itch like they're crawling with chiggers.

Any OTC suggestions?

*Which is of course my new stage name.
#2
Old 12-15-2003, 10:46 AM
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You can't beat deep breathing and coughing along with plenty of fluids.
Primatene tablets are good if the irritation is in your upper lungs.
Otherwise, guifenesen will loosen up the lower phlem a bit.
#3
Old 12-15-2003, 11:35 AM
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Location: Chicago-ish, IL
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Sounds pretty hardcore for OTC...if you've just seen your doc for the bronchitis or whatever, won't he/she prescribe some cough medicine?

Also, itching sounds odd. And I've been there more times than I care to count. Have you been to the doc? If not, sounds like you should.
#4
Old 12-15-2003, 12:01 PM
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Take a hot shower with lots of steam.

Breathe deeply.

Rinse.

Repeat.
#5
Old 12-15-2003, 12:16 PM
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Been to doc. Left field: she thinks I'm an undiagnosed (and lifelong) asthmatic. She thinks I'm having asthma attacks brought on and/or exacerbated by viral infection. (This also, so her theory goes, accounts to some degree for my lifelong aversion to exercise: physical exertion causes me bronchial discomfort, always has.) She gave me inhalers but nothing else. The inhalers help a bit, but not for the four-hour stretch the directions limit me to. Mostly I'm sucking lozenges, of which I am SOREly tired.
#6
Old 12-15-2003, 12:42 PM
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How about one of these?

Or you can try doing what CF patients do: have someone pat your chest or back percussively while you hang upside down, to clear out your lungs.
#7
Old 12-15-2003, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by lissener
Been to doc. Left field: she thinks I'm an undiagnosed (and lifelong) asthmatic. She thinks I'm having asthma attacks brought on and/or exacerbated by viral infection. (This also, so her theory goes, accounts to some degree for my lifelong aversion to exercise: physical exertion causes me bronchial discomfort, always has.) She gave me inhalers but nothing else. The inhalers help a bit, but not for the four-hour stretch the directions limit me to. Mostly I'm sucking lozenges, of which I am SOREly tired.
Actually, thatís precisely what I was thinking (IANAD, but I am also an asthmatic with strong family history on both sides who was not diagnosed until my early 20s, although Iíve had multiple rounds of pneumonia, bronchitis, and zillions of allergy attacks).

Have you had any allergy tests? If not, you might ask your doc about that; an allergic reaction might explain some of the itching. And at least OTC antihistamines are certainly easy enough to come by Ė for me, Benadryl works the best, but knocks me on my butt with drowsiness. But sometimes drowsiness is a good thing.
#8
Old 12-15-2003, 01:50 PM
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Yeah, I used diphenhydramine as a "sleep aid," which is maybe why I can at least usually quite coughing long enough to get some sleep.

I was just told by a coworker that I'm using the inhaler wrong, so I'll try using it right and see what happens.
#9
Old 12-15-2003, 02:33 PM
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If you're getting any benefit from the inhaler used inccorectly, then I'd drop by the doctor's office and have a nurse show you how to use it properly. Practice repeatedly in front of them, and make sure not to cut any corners when you get home. Your doctor should ask you to demonstrate how you use it every time you see them (long after you start being insulted by the question). Few do. It's tedious.

Misusing a "reliever"/"rescue" inhaler [like albuterol / Ventolin(tm) which contains a fast acting bronchodilator related to adrenaline ] can reduce its efficiency as much as 90%. Misuse of the longer acting steroid inhalers can dramatically increase side-effects.

If you aren't a regular coffee drinker, you might find that a cup of coffee helps you through bad spots between allowed inhaler uses. Caffeine is related to theophylline, a potent asthma drug, and inhaling the steam won't hurt, either. But keep your intake reasonable - and be wary if you have high blood pressure, etc.

Cough suppressants like dextromethorphan may help you rest by taking off the worst of the coughing, but by and large, coughing is your friend -an often sadistic one, but a friend nonetheless. When possible, I'd consider agents that produce a more productive cough, such as guaifenesin or steam/nebulized saline rather than a cough suppressant. Try to let the cough do its job

Since someone mentioned Primatene(tm)
In my area, over the counter Bronk-Aid(tm) and Primatene(tm) tablets no longer contain theophylline, and are IMHO less effective than they once were. However, even after the local stores changed, I had out-of-state patients who said their bottles were still labeled 'theophylline', so it may be regional. Theophylline is used much more in the Midwest, than in in Boston, due to its narrow thereapeutic range and abuse by college student for regional fat loss, after a study showed that topical aminophylline (basically the IV/ cream form of theophylline) cream could cause local area fat loss.

If you get theophylline over the counter, follow the instructions carefully, and make sure your doctor knows you are using it. It is a fine drug, but it has a narrow 'therapeutic range'. Unlike many drugs, the gap between the effective dose and the toxic dose is relatively small. We consider blood levels of 10 mg/dl to be the minimum for reliable effectiveness, but 20 mg/dl to be the onset of toxicity. With some drugs, blood levels can bounce up and down like a yo-yo by a factor of 10 or more; with theophylline, steady levels in the effective range are important

If your doctor has warned you to stay away from coffee, avoid over the counter theophylline. In fact, I'd call your doctor before taking it; they'll probably want to monitor its effects and interactions with other drugs. Read the label and know what side effects to look for.

This is just a very crude discussion of a case scenario, not medical advice. I am not your doctor, I haven't examined you, and don't know your findings or medical history. For that matter, you don't know my history. I could be an Internet mass murderer.
#10
Old 12-15-2003, 02:56 PM
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Location: Chicago-ish, IL
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Oh yeah, I second the coffee idea; it's helped me many many times before.

Also, when I was a kid, I found sometimes I got relief by sticking my head in the freezer on hot, pollen-filled summer nights. Then again, sometimes cold air aggravates the coughing, so YMMV. Or you might try one of those steam inhaler thingies, that are usually sold in drugstores as "facial spas." I find they help my sinuses a lot.
#11
Old 12-15-2003, 03:17 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 319
FWIW, lozenges only work for "throat" coughs, they do nothing for the lungs. The few times I've had bronchitis, my doc gave me codeine (sp?). It's the best cough suppresant I know of. And coughing is your friend if it's productive. Otherwise a dry hacking cough isn't doing a damn thing. (coughing through this damn flu)
#12
Old 12-15-2003, 03:32 PM
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[slight hijack] My mother also swears by the freezer thing, but as a treatment for stinging eyes while chopping onions. I'm pretty sure that it helps because it's a sealed box full of clean, onion- and allergen-free air, not because of the cold. [/slight hijack]
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