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A question about this cough...


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Okay, I'm halfway thru the tests and I'm two for two in getting clean test results, which certainly supports my keeping a positive attitude.

Despite all, though, I know I'm still anxious and that some of the "symptoms" I'm experiencing are likely just due to the stress and anxiety....such as the optical migraines and what feels like a shortness of breath at times.

And then there is the cough....pretty much a dry tickle in my throat, not a very productive cough...but of course since treatment hasn't started yet I start to get anxious about what this cough means! :roll:

It's important to note that I DO have allergies....year round. So there is always some degree of postnasal drip and sort of that "clogged" feeling in my throat. AND even more significant is the fact that noon today marks the two week point at which I smoked my last cigarette...and that, too has to have something to do with this cough, wouldn't you think?

I guess I'm just looking for reassurance that this cough isn't some major sign that I ought to be banging on doors saying, "Let's get treatment started yesterday!!"

Sometimes in the middle of the night....I will start to cough and then have to sit up in bed to sort of clear the airways so I can lie back down without hacking. Does all that sound pretty normal for someone just 2 weeks into not smoking? Someone still a bit anxious, awaiting the last test results?

Thanks for any input....

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You are getting optical migraines? Do you get the pain or just the funky vision part of it? I get no pain, just crazy bright jagged spots in my eyes that last about 15 minutes. I started getting those about 3 months ago (once a month) and was told it is stress....

As for the cough, I am sure that others here will be able to comment on that a little better. I did develop an annoying dry cough, but it actually came after radiation treatment from my fried lungs. :roll:

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I would have to disagree about the "optical migraines" being stress related. I started having them (30-40 minutes duration) 8 months PRIOR to my LC diagnosis. I still get them ocassionally but not as frequently. I'm thinking they are reflective of some imbalance somewhere in the body. I had diagnostic workups but found nothing. Just my opinion....

Dave S

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I think you are right about the cough and quitting smoking. Your cilia is probably coming back to life and cleaning your lungs. Also the cancer in your lung is a foreign and your body's reaction is to move it out. One of the cough medicines I used when my cough was really bad at night is phenergan with codeine. Both drugs help with the cough and help you sleep. During the day I used tessalon perle. Also chewing gum or sucking on a hard candy helps through the day. The saliva keeps washing the crap out of your throat.

The migraines and the shortness of breath easily could be the stress. Relaxation and a little of xanax helps. Better living through chemistry. :)

Good luck with the test results.


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Heather, I was just posting a reply to your thread over in General...while you were posting here to mine, I guess! :D

I get the aura with the optical migraines....and then most of the time, a mild to moderate headache after the aura is gone. They never cause nausea and sometimes even the headache it so minor I barely notice it.

I had the first one maybe 6-7 years ago. I ended up running off to the eye doctor, thinking I needed my prescription changed. It was the eye doctor who asked if I'd gotten a headache after....as I hadn't even remembered that part!

Over the years, I'd have maybe one or two a year....relating to nothing specific. Not even to any particular stress.

But in the past week I've had three of them! In the past month or so, probably a total of about 8.....as many in a month, as I've had over the last 6-7 years. So...I'm pretty convinced that they are stress related.....at least at this moment in time.

If I get the aura and can lie down and close my eyes for 20 minutes.....it goes away. I may or may not have a headache afterwards that I need to take anything for. Most of the time I don't take anything....not even an Advil. It's just not that bad that I need to take anything.

As for the cough....I appreciate the input about that too. I never really quit over the years....so have never been thru the sensation of how it feels to have airways and lungs NOT assaulted by daily smoke! Again, it's something I hope I don't need to take anything for right now. I'm sure once radiation gets started, it could get worse so if I need something then for the cough....well, that will be a different story.

I also find that warm liquid helps break it up.....so if I drink a cup of tea before bed and then drink WARM tap water in the night, if I get clogged....that helps.

But you know....it's like every little thing you experience that seems "different"....your mind automatically goes to that fear that it's related to the cancer somehow or is "bad".

I keep trying to remember that back in l983 when my mom was dx'd with colon cancer, her doctor asked about her lifestyle, what she did with her time, etc. She told him she tole painted and bowled. The doc said, "Well, you didn't get cancer from bowling!"

The point being that not EVERYTHING relates to my cancer. :roll: It's just easier to think it does when you're still a bit anxious, I suppose.

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After my Dad quit for good (In Jan.-one month prior to dx), he was coughing like crazy. He called the doctor, and the nurse told him he was probably "cleaning out his system". He had all sorts of stuff coming up and the nurse said it was probably bits of tar and toxins stuck in his throat and lungs, airway ect.. that were finally breaking loose. Hoping this helps, and also hoping its nothing...


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I have been getting optical migraines off and on for 20 years. I get what looks like a lightning bolt that has been cut with pinking shears usually on the left.

I get no pain, just the discomfort of messed up vision. They last about 20 minutes. 2 different drs., years apart, said stress related, don't worry about them, so I don't.


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Addie, don't be too anxious this moment because cough is extrememly normal for one who has this disease. Since you are having all checkings and tests and scans, once the oncologist has the full picture, they will start appropriate treatment. Small Cell LC is very sensitive to chemotherapy. All your symptoms will be gone very soon.

Certainly, you have to tell your oncologist about all these things and they may prescribe something for helping you...

I know during the initial stage after diagnosis is very panick. Read more and know more that you will be feeling better.

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I know when I quit smoking last September I had an annoying cough for about 6 weeks. My doctor said it was due to my quitting smoking and that the lungs were trying to clear themselves out.

I'm sure that's why you're coughing since you recently quit.

Wishing you the best,

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Guest Phyllis

Hi, I have been driving all of this wonderful support group, friends, docs., etc. with questions re my itchy throat and cough. They have all finally convinced me that it is allergies and since I have finally found an allergy medicine that works for me it seems to be clearing up. I think part of mine was also a cold, sinus infection, etc. It just keeps raining here every day so the mold count is terrible. I think I am also allergic now to smoke. Just being around smoking people seems to set my cough off. I'm sure you are stressed. Trazodone works for me.

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This is the first place I've ever found that had a discussion about "optical migraines" I've described this condition to eye doctors, radiologists, chemo docs and all types of civilians. Nobody ever claimed hearing of it before or knew what it was.

Mine started around last April as I recall. I was subsequently diagnosed with SCLC on June 26. Mine included involvement of the lymph nodes and an inop tumor. The tumor was inop because of location, not because it was beyond hope.

Anyway, I've done the whole last summer and fall routine of chemo and radiation following up with a 21 day full-brain radiation treatment from December 1- December 20. So far, so good. All my CT's have looked good and we're all optimistic. I still struggle with anemia like most. And I still do get these optical lightning storms though and am relieved finally to hear I'm not alone.

I just found this board this morning. I've sort of stayed away from the boards because some just get too depressing or angry.

My best wishes to all.

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The cough is annoying as I recall. I swear I felt at times like I was going to be coughing for the rest of my life. No cough med touched it, and I got to the point where even thinking about taking a liquid cough med had ready to run to the bathroom to vomit. Those OTC Robitussion cough gels pills are the only thing that seemed to help the cough at all for me.

I think the cough is just something that kind of goes along with having lung cancer, and trying to quit smoking. As someone said above all those cillia in your lungs are waking up after being unused because you were smoking.

I'm also having the optical migraines. I get what I call a flashing ribbon of light, starts out tiny and grows to where I have a pretty good sized blind spot. It lasts about 20-30 minutes. I'd never heard of a painless migraine before, but thats what the opthamologist said it was although he actually called it a disassociated migraine, but I like the term optical migraine better.

I almost wonder if its a side effect of the chemo or treatments, since so many posters here seem to have had them.

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I'm almost a month out from not smoking and the cough is a lot better. Very little tickle anymore.

Now...about these optical migraines...which it seems a lot of people have also encountered....I'm pretty well convinced that they are greatly impacted by stress level!

Years ago...when I got my first one....I was out on the golf course!! Not at all stressed!! Over the next 6-8 years I had maybe 5-6 of the migraines....and the headaches never were that bad.

Since my cancer dx....I've had numerous optical migraines and mostly on days when I was particularly stressed. Have even had two in one day!!

I think breathing deeply, and lying down and closing one's eyes for 15-20 minutes will take care of most of it. It does for me, anyway. I may still end up with a bit of a headache afterwards...but most of the time I don't even bother with a Tylenol for it.

I just finished my first round of chemo on the 30th.....so hadn't even started chemo when I had 6 optical migraines between the 13th and 24th of May!!!

Haven't had one since, (knock wood :wink: ) but imagine there will be more stressful days ahead and I'll probably see that silvery, winking arrow again! :roll:

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It didn't happen in my case--in fact my cough just quit after I quit smoking and before my surgery, but I know a lot of people who have quit smoking and say that it was then that they developed a cough while their bronchial tubes and lungs were clearing out.

I absolutely love your dog picture--I have two of those myself except I have a yellow and a chocolate lab. They are part of my sanity--I think it's true that they are a comforting force in life, even when they are running circles in the back yard and picking your flowers for you!!!!!!!

The headaches I can't comment on--that's an experience I haven't had, thankfully.

I hope you find the answers you need--hang in there--it will get easier as time goes on....

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