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What Triggers the Coughing Bouts?

For the last few weeks, I have been trying to pay particular attention to what triggers the fits of coughing from COPD. Some of them are simple enough to understand, while others leave me wondering.

There are obvious triggers like allergens in the air or dust collecting in a relatively small or closed environment. Most of the time I can ease the coughing by using my inhaler. It does not stop them immediately, but typically does not take long before things are back to normal.

Manual Labor

Physical work does not usually make me cough, unless I get winded in the process. It would appear that the combination of losing my breath and getting hot, directly affects the coughing fits. They range from just a few coughs, to attacks lasting what seems like forever (or until I give in and take something for the cough).

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The fits that have me intrigued right now, are the ones that seemingly come from nowhere. These are tough to predict because there is no real trigger that I can see. It happens randomly when my wife and I are watching television, or in the car driving somewhere. There are no obvious signs like pollen or dust, but when the coughing starts, it is difficult to make it stop.

At times, these coughing fits can be worse than others. I have found that often I will cough hard enough and for long enough that it will trigger a debilitating migraine. In these cases, I have to use my inhaler, some type of cough medicine, and just give it time to run its course.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t give it much thought, except that I remember reading something in one of the pamphlets that my doctor gave me when I was diagnosed with COPD. There was a specific mention of trying to minimize, anything that exacerbates the symptoms. I cannot remember every word, just that you could do more damage to your lungs in cases where the coughing gets too severe.


Prior to my diagnosis, I had a bad case of pneumonia. With that, I was coughing so much that I was coughing up blood. My pulmonologist ordered X-rays which apparently showed multiple lesions in my lungs. In my own mind, that must have been the reason I was coughing up what I was. Once antibiotics had had enough time to start helping, in addition to a rescue inhaler, I was able to get the coughing under control. While it was still a productive cough, the blood almost immediately went away.

Since the pneumonia has been dealt with, all I am left with is the random fits of coughing. I am sure that part of the coughing comes from our home currently being in a state of disrepair. We are still living in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. We have finally managed to get our roof replaced, but on the interior of the house, there is still a large amount of drywall and insulation left unfinished. The only thing we are sure of at this point is that it is not a mold problem. After the storm, we had a group come through and help us with interior demo and clean-up. Afterwards, they treated everything for mold to keep anyone from getting sick.

I suppose the only thing we are uncertain about is, particulates of fibre glass in the air from the exposed drywall and insulation. We continuously run an air purifier with a HEPA filter in the rooms of the house that we are currently using.

Do you have any special triggers that set off fits of coughing? Have you tried anything unique to get the coughing under control?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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