Extreme Coughing

Do you cough so hard that you vomit?  I read an article written by Nicole Galan and reviewed by Shuvani Sanyai, MD, that gave some enlightening information concerning causes and treatments for coughing so hard that you vomit.

When you cough it is the body’s response to the presence of something irritating in the throat or the airway.  Coughing has the purpose of creating air to force the irritant out to prevent choking or infection.  It can be forceful and loud even though most coughing is not serious.  However, a really strong cough can break bones, cause bleeding or make a person vomit.  This is because the muscles triggered by the cough reflex are also responsible for vomiting but it is not usually something to be overly concerned about.

Some of the causes for coughing are cigarette smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), asthma, infection, such as chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, pertussis or whooping cough, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and some blood pressure medicines.

Trying to diagnose a chronic cough involves a thorough medical history and physical exam to determine things that trigger or relieve the cough.  Some additional tests may be needed, such as chest x-ray, CT scan, lung function test, spirometry to determine air intake and signs of asthma and bronchosocopy to look at the lungs and airways with a camera.

Having a single spell of coughing that produces vomiting isn’t a reason to call the doctor.  If you have a chronic or severe cough that does not improve within a week or two, a doctor should be consulted.  If you have any other symptoms of coughing up blood, difficult breathing, fast breathing or blue lips, face or fingertips, contact your health professional.  If you cannot reach your doctor, you should go to the nearest emergency room for evaluation.

Some things can be done at home to treat a cough before seeing a doctor.  If the cough happens after eating, such as with GERD or acid reflux, someone can try using an anti-relax medication such as TUMS.  If you have heartburn that is so severe it causes a cough that cannot be relieved by medication, be evaluated by a doctor. The priority for a smoker with a long-term cough is the obvious remedy of quitting smoking.  Smoking can lead to other serious health problems that will provoke further coughing.

If the cough is caused by an infection you might try drinking extra fluids, resting, avoid exercise temporarily, use OTC cough suppressants, try a chest rub and take honey or sip on warm fluids.

If you vomit when coughing and home remedies don’t help, try antibiotics for an infection, prescription-strength cough suppressants, prescription acid reducers for GERD, decongestants or antihistamines for allergies or inhaler or steroids for asthma or allergies that your doctor can prescribe for you.  Follow up with your doctor if the prescribed meds do not help you.

Dr Fredda Branyon