A cough is one of the most common signs of mesothelioma. A persistent, dry cough is an early warning sign of this type of cancer. Coughing is often “normal” in the early stages of mesothelioma but worsens as the condition progresses. While coughing might not have severe effects on your condition, it should be a point of concern. You should talk to your doctor about the cough and seek ways to regulate it. Pleural effusions, tumor growth, and some types of cancer treatments could cause a cough when battling mesothelioma.
Understanding Coughing With Mesothelioma
A dry cough can be described as a respiratory reflex that helps keep your airways and throat clear. This type of cough doesn’t produce significant mucus like a wet cough. While coughing is very common and not presumed dangerous in healthy people, it could be a concern for mesothelioma patients. Coughing is a common symptom of many health conditions, and it could also be an early sign of pleural mesothelioma. An occasional cough is very normal; it is healthy for your body because it helps clear airways. However, a chronic or recurring cough might indicate an underlying medical condition.
In most cases, pulmonary doctors get involved in diagnosing this condition. A dry cough associated with pleural mesothelioma could easily be mistaken for a less serious condition. This is likely to happen in the condition’s early stages when the cough isn’t chronic. In some cases, doctors might misdiagnose early signs of mesothelioma as a recurring cough or chest infection. The early coughing symptoms associated with mesothelioma are similar to those of pneumonia or bronchitis. This is why it is important to get a licensed professional who can guarantee the right diagnosis. You should also give the right symptoms to help prevent a misdiagnosis.
Even though a dry cough is a common early sign of mesothelioma, it cannot confirm the cancer diagnosis on its own. Therefore, further tests need to be done to be sure. For instance, you should inform your doctor if you have any allergic reactions irritating your respiratory system. Such conditions result in a worsening or consistent dry cough if triggered, as is the case with mesothelioma. One could easily confuse the two conditions, given their striking similarities in the early stages. Besides, people with mesothelioma start experiencing symptoms such as coughing for several months before they are diagnosed with the condition.
You could start having dry coughs way before the cancer is detected, which is not good for your health. Unfortunately, you might start developing some noticeable symptoms after the condition has reached a later stage of development. When mesothelioma is in the later stages, treatment might not be as effective as in the early stages. You have more treatment options if you are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the early stages. Besides, you have a better chance of long-term survival. Noticing the dry cough and seeking medical attention could be crucial in detecting mesothelioma in its early stages.
When battling mesothelioma, the cause of your cough may change. The reason might not be the same as the one that caused the initial cough. This is why it is essential to inform your doctor regarding any differences in your cough as soon as they happen. Identifying the cause of your cough is crucial in treating it effectively. In fact, you can’t get effective treatment if the main course of the coughing isn’t identified. Even though most mesothelioma patients have a dry cough, it can be wet and productive in others. Ensure that your doctor knows the type of cough you have for efficient treatment. Besides, patients battling lung cancer could have the same symptoms as those with pleural mesothelioma.
Knowing the difference between the two conditions is essential in avoiding misdiagnosis. A cough associated with lung cancer is persistent and worsens with time. In some cases, the cough is accompanied by blood. On the other hand, a mesothelioma cough is mostly dry. The key thing to note about coughing as a symptom is when it persists. Besides, if there is no reasonable explanation as to why you keep having the cough, it is time you saw a doctor. If you don’t feel sick but the cough becomes chronic, it could be an early sign of mesothelioma. Let your doctor know if you have smoked or been exposed to asbestos. This will help them make the right diagnosis.
What Causes a Dry Cough for Mesothelioma Patients
Dry coughs for mesothelioma patients are usually distinct and last longer. Therefore, to understand them better, we need to have a close look at their causes and which exact part of the respiratory system is affected.
The main cause of coughing in mesothelioma patients is the thickening of the pleura, which is the lining of the lungs. The thickening can also cause other symptoms including chest pains and shortness of breath. You might also experience discomfort engaging in activities that need you to hold your breath, like swimming. Once the pleura thickens, it then presses inward towards your lungs. Besides, the presence of tumors might also affect the nerves connecting to your pleura. This could trigger vigorous coughing that causes abdominal pain. The build-up of fluid around your lungs, also referred to as pleural effusion, will cause dry cough in some patients with mesothelioma.
If you have pleural mesothelioma, you can also get chest infections such as pneumonia. This is the case because the lungs are weakened due to mesothelioma. Given the similarities between the two conditions, doctors could mistake pneumonia for mesothelioma. Dry coughing is a symptom shared by the two conditions. However, the cough that is associated with pleural mesothelioma has a small amount of mucus. Therefore, you can distinguish the two from how dry or wet the cough is. Coughing linked with mesothelioma causes inflammation and irritation of the airways. These conditions make coughing uncomfortable and more frequent.
Pulmonary cancers such as lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma have coughing as the common symptom. While coughing is directly associated with either of them, it is caused by complications triggered by tumors. It could also be caused by the repercussion of asbestos fibers in your airways. The presence of tumors or asbestos fibers could be an instant trigger of coughing. Besides, the damage caused by asbestos over the years might result in throat irritation that forces a cough. In some cases, inflammation and collection of fluid in your pleural tissue could trigger vigorous coughs. These coughs have a massive impact on your body and could leave you drained. Similarly, asbestos exposure will have the same impact because it irritates the pleura. As mentioned earlier, a thickened tissue in your lung causes irritation, something that triggers a persistent cough. Therefore, it is important to know the cause and effects of coughing when battling mesothelioma.
Treatment for Cough Caused by Mesothelioma
Coughing caused by mesothelioma can be very uncomfortable and only worsens the condition. This is why you get it treated on time to help reduce the effects of mesothelioma. Generally, treatments meant for mesotheliomas, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can intensity symptoms temporarily. Some of the symptoms affected by these treatments are coughing and shortness of breath. Besides, aggressive surgeries could be one of the short-term risks that could worsen or increase the rate of dry cough. You should talk to your doctor and learn about the possible effects of mesothelioma treatment before starting the dosage.
Some of the risks associated with these treatments include pus accumulation in the pleura, fluid accumulation in the lungs, and pneumonia. While these conditions don’t often occur after mesothelioma treatment, you should be aware of them just in case. If you are battling peritoneal mesothelioma, you won’t have dry coughs unless the condition spreads towards the chest cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma doesn’t cause dry coughing because it often affects the abdomen. Complications in the abdomen will not trigger coughing whatsoever unless cancer moves up to your chest cavity. Unlike peritoneal, pleural mesothelioma affects the lungs and chest cavity, hence the coughing.
Thankfully, you can treat the cough caused by mesothelioma or the cancer treatment you are taking. These coughs can be controlled by medical procedures, medications, and even home remedies. The ideal treatment for a dry cough caused by mesothelioma depends on the main cause of the symptom. Some of the reliable treatment methods include;
You can treat the cough caused by mesothelioma through surgical procedures. Various surgical options are designed to get rid of the tumor growth. These procedures remove your body’s tumors and prevent the pleura’s thickening. If the surgical operation is successful, it can ease symptoms like dry coughs and shortness of breath. The likelihood of this result depends on the treatment you are subjected to. Remember that some cancer treatments can cause dry coughs. Although radiation and chemotherapy are aimed at treating mesothelioma, they can also help reduce coughing.
Palliative procedures could just be what you need to treat the cough. When the fluid buildup from the pleural lining is drained, it helps relieve the pressure on the lungs. This is helpful because it reduces symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. However, the success of this procedure depends on the stage of the condition. If mesothelioma is in its advanced stages, palliative procedures might not effectively treat the cough. In that case, you will need more aggressive treatment options like surgery.
Don’t Get Near Cough Triggers
While this is not a treatment method, it is a reliable way of controlling coughing. There are many products and environmental factors that can trigger a cough. You should avoid all these triggers in every way possible. Some of the common cough triggers include aerosol sprays, cold air, smoke, and very strong fragrances. Getting in contact with such products could increase the rate of coughs. You should pay attention to what your cough triggers are and avoid them. For instance, you should start using scent-free soaps, avoid smoky environments, use solid deodorants instead of aerosol antiperspirants, and wear a scarf on cold days. While staying away from these triggers, you should also get your cough treated. Combining these remedies with a solid treatment will help stop the coughing. Besides, your body will have ample time to fight the cough without exposure to new triggers.
Making significant changes to your lifestyle will go a long way in helping you deal with coughing. Home remedies and lifestyle changes help stop the coughing for many people battling mesothelioma. Sometimes, all you need is a little sacrifice to improve your health. Apart from avoiding respiratory triggers like dust, smoke, and aerosol sprays, there is much more you can do to reduce coughing. For example, if you are a smoker, you should quit immediately. Smoking worsens your lungs and triggers aggressive coughs. In fact, mesothelioma patients with smoking addiction barely stop coughing. Apart from quitting smoking, you should also avoid second-hand smoke. This is the case because smoking exposure might have the same impact. Maintaining good hydration is also an ideal remedy that will reduce coughing.
When the body is hydrated, it has a stronger immune system. Sucking on cough drops is also encouraged. Doing so will gradually reduce the coughing symptoms. Nutritionists reckon that drinking a warm beverage with honey will help your body fight coughing. Doing so will also supply the body with the necessary nutrients to keep it strong. Besides, you should also moisturize the airways. You can do so by taking a steam bath or a hot shower. Generally, warm temperatures are ideal for clearing the airways, and a hot shower offers exactly that. If you live in a general dry area, you should use a humidifier in your home to reduce the dry air. As mentioned earlier, dry air is one of the triggers for coughing. A humidifier will help get rid of such conditions.
Changing your physical condition could be a reliable way of controlling coughing. Lying or sitting in certain positions could block the airways and make breathing more difficult. Such conditions increase the rate of coughing. Therefore, you should try sleeping or sitting in different positions to open up your body. This frees up air circulation, hence reducing coughing. You should be propped with more pillows to make your body comfortable for the best results.
Various over-the-counter prescription drugs and medicines can help ease your cough. Talk to your doctor and find out which drugs can help reduce the cough. For example, suppressants like Robitussin are ideal for treating coughs and are often used on mesothelioma patients. Using these medications will significantly reduce the number of times you cough. Generally, some patients with a chest cold or lung infection cough more because their bodies cannot bring up phlegm. Some medications like expectorants (such as Mucinex) help thin the mucus, making it easy for you to cough up. The drug turns dry coughs into wet coughs, which are comfortable and less irritating. There are also steroids and prescription painkillers that can manage a recurring cough.
However, you shouldn’t use medication without your doctor’s approval because it could harm your health.
Emotional and Physical Effects of Coughing
You can be frustrated, anxious, and even depressed when you cough persistently due to mesothelioma. Some patients with mesothelioma report being worn down by coughing rather than the condition itself. Thankfully, you can speak to your doctor or nurse about ways to overcome this problem.
Here are a few emotional and physical effects of coughing.
- Social anxiety: Social anxiety problems could also be a result of dry coughing. Mesothelioma patients with coughing problems might not feel comfortable in public settings. They might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with their chronic coughing and avoid social settings such as movie theaters, restaurants, and grocery stores. Some might not even want to attend school. The fear of public scrutiny due to their condition makes patients afraid to pursue their hobbies and other activities they enjoy doing. The ability to have conversations with friends and family is also affected due to continuous coughing between conversations. All these factors can make a patient feel isolated from others. If you are in such a situation, joining a support group will be of great help. You will meet other patients going through the same and learn to build your confidence.
- Inability to do chores and tasks: When you have an uncontrollable cough, it is hard to manage daily chores. You might find it challenging to do basic chores like cooking, bathing, or performing household chores. Besides, constant coughing makes it hard to sleep, something that leads to fatigue. You could also suffer from intense mesothelioma symptoms like chest pains.
- A constant reminder of the illness: When a patient has chronic coughs, they are reminded of cancer. This can cause fear and anxiety. Besides, coughing can be an obvious sign of illness to others, making it difficult for those who want to keep their condition private.