Coughing Is My Most Feared IPF Symptom
Recently, a topic in the Pulmonary Fibrosis News Forums called “fits of cough” caught my attention. Reflecting on the topic brought back vivid memories of my own experience with coughing attacks.
Before my single-lung transplant, coughing spells sometimes lingered for up to 45 minutes. It always felt like I had to bring something up, but unfortunately, these were dry coughs.
It’s possible the coughing attacks activated a worse medical condition. Sometimes they wouldn’t end until I was soundly defeated. My oxygen saturation would decrease to dangerous levels, and I was exhausted to the point of nearly passing out.
I am a jovial person who likes to laugh and joke around. I also like to have a good belly laugh from time to time. But laughing triggered my coughing, so I had to stop hearty laughs and crack only a smile.
I had several of these intense coughing spells at work. Thankfully, my colleagues were caring and supportive. I could see they felt helpless and wanted to relieve my suffering, but nothing could be done to alleviate this symptom of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. I will always be grateful for the kindness of my colleagues, who showed me compassion at every step of my journey.
My friends also were understanding, and they never avoided me or looked at me with disdain when I coughed uncontrollably. They have shown me support and friendship since the beginning of my diagnosis. They were there to hand me tissues and wipe my face if needed, and they’re still here to this day.
I am fortunate to have so many people who care about me. Members of the Pulmonary Fibrosis News Forums often share that they’ve been ghosted by friends or even family members. I can’t relate to that, but I do have sympathy for anyone this has happened to. People have their reasons for doing certain things, but I have always been taught to do what is right. I have surrounded myself with people with similar values.
Not every cough turned into a marathon, but they were always burdensome. I felt as if I were walking on eggshells trying to avoid coughing. My doctor was aware of the problem but didn’t want to prescribe any medications for the cough because I would soon be listed for a transplant. He wanted me to avoid as many unnecessary medications as possible to alleviate the burden of side effects on my kidneys and liver. I agreed with his reasoning.
I am still just as fearful of coughing now as I was before my single-lung transplant. My right donor lung couldn’t be more perfect, but my left one is still fibrotic. My physician told me that the left fibrotic lung would occasionally continue to cause me small problems, and I still have a coughing spell from time to time. Most of the time, the coughing is due to humidity when I take a shower.
But I can enjoy a belly laugh again, and I hope to have many more for the next several years. I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to laugh again.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.