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continuous respiratory problems What is wrong with me?

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I know that topics like this are probably posted all the time. But if you think you might have some helpful advice then please get back to me.

Over the past 6 months I seem to have suffered continuous respiratory problems, and it's beginning to drive me and everyone around me a bit insane. I've always had healthy lungs in the past - I was a brass player and have only had one or two chest infections. Anyway, about 6 months ago I had a really nasty episode of flu and had a few days off work. The symptoms soon cleared... apart from the cough! Since then, my cough seemed to come and go. At times it would just result in my clearing my throat an awful lot, at other times I would literally be coughing my guts up. I never got it checked out because, as I mentioned, it kept on coming and going, and everyone in the (air conditioned) office seemed to continuously have one.

Eventually, 3 weeks ago it came back again, and I decided that enough was enough, and went to the doctors. I was immediately diagnosed with a chest infection in my lower right lung and placed on antibiotics (amoxicillin). At this point I should add that I have been smoking for the past 5 years and am now 25 years old. I smoked about 1 or 2 packs a week, which equated to a few every evening.

I decided to quit smoking as soon as I started the antibiotics. When I began to take the antibiotics I didn't feel any better - I was still coughing a lot, and I actually became increasingly short of breath, which was a symptom I don't think had really appeared before. I decided to give the antibiotics a week, and although I was still coughing a lot, I felt as though it was moving gradually up my lungs and making it's way out. I have also been told that when you quit smoking, it can make your chest feel pretty dreadful for the first few weeks.

Even though I was feeling slightly better, and put some of it down to cigarette withdrawal, I am quite a hypochondriac so I demanded a chest x-ray. I was given one a week and a half ago, and got the results a few days later. Before I received the results I was completely convinced that there was going to be some horrible blockage, such as a serious infection, COPD or lung cancer. To my relief and surprise the x-ray returned completely clear with no warning signs for anything. The doctor listened to my chest all over, and said the infection had completely cleared. I complained that the cough was still persisting, although it had now moved up to the base of my throat, and was making my throat feel closed-up and sore. She said it looked like I might have developed a viral infection in my throat and suggested some strong lozenges to relax it. At the same time I was diagnosed with post-nasal drip and given a beclamethasone nasal spray, and also given some omeprazole as I mentioned that the coughing is worse after eating large meals.

So, the current state of affairs is that I am being treated for post-nasal drip (in family history), acid reflux (also in family history), and I am taking the maximum amount of lozenges I am allowed a day. My chest x-ray was completely clear, stethoscope reading completely clear, and my blood-oxygen levels are perfectly normal. My cough is non-productive.

Despite all this... I am still occasionally coughing every day and am short of breath! I must say that I have seen some slight improvement over the course of 1 week. The coughing has been sounding less aggressive, and occasionally I can breathe alright. But most of the time there is a tickle in my throat and I have to make an effort to achieve deep, full breaths. Also, I randomly had a violent coughing out-burst yesterday, and then things went back to normal. So my questions are...

Should I still persevere with treatment, and is this length of recovery period quite normal?
Could the symptoms really be related to me quitting smoking?
Could the persisting symptoms be due to the time my breathing has been irritated, and even be psychological?
Why am I short of breath if there is no blockage?

I really hope someone can shed some light on my case as it's been carrying on for so long now.
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First Helper polenglish
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replied May 14th, 2012
UPDATE: My cough has been decreasing greatly by me suppressing it, but the breathlessness is still lingering. However, I just did some exercise for the first time in weeks and it made me produce a deeper cough. Interestingly, the cough tasted of tobacco. Should I not be surprising this cough? Is it necessary to clear my post-smokers lungs?
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replied May 29th, 2012
So two weeks on, and I'm still not "cured". I've seen 4 doctors at the surgery now - and all of them say that my lungs sound exceptionally healthy. The most recent one gave me a salbutamol inhaler and said the reason the cough may be lingering could be due to a post-viral asthma. I've been taking the inhaler quite regularly, and it seems to have helped a little bit. I have also been exercising regularly, and this seems to help in clearing my lungs. I've possibly been abusing the inhaler a little bit though, as I've been taking far more than "8 puffs" a day (resulting in me feel quite shaky).

I have quit taking the beclamethasone nasal spray as it wasn't making any difference whatsoever, so I still have really bad post-nasal drip. Not really sure what to do about it to be honest. I'm sure that's contributing to my cough a hell of a lot! I have also quit taking the omeprazole.

Generally though, there is still slight improvement showing. The cough turning more productive has resulted in me not feeling as short of breath, as I finally seem to be clearing all the gunk off. Although I am wondering when it's going to finally stop. I wasn't aware that smoking for only 5 years could result in me clearing my lungs for over a month. My mucus never makes it up to my mouth, so I can't tell if it's clear or not, but it occasionally tastes of tobacco. Progress is slow, but I think there is some progress.

Also, due to me getting so depressed about my health, I've suffered an outbreak of cold sores in and around my mouth, which is NOT great!
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