Posted by: Kimberly | 2020/02/15


88-year-old with dry cough and CHF

My mom who is typically a vivacious 88 yo woman has been in and out of the hospital 3 x's in two months. Once because it was thought to be pneumonia but lungs clear and vitals normal. She's lived with CHF for about 12 years, in need of a valve replacement but no signs point to a need to have one so she's opted not to go that way. Recently her Cardiologist diagnosed her with bronchitus bc chest X-ray, oxygen levels and lab work were all negative. She is getting over a UTI and is on Macrobid. She's had a dry hacking cough for about 2 weeks and the cardiologist began her on a nebulizer 3 x's a day-Levabuteral and a steroid(2x's daily). The first evening seemed to work but 3 days into it she's still coughing - not producing any phlegm and is exhausting her. I gave her Delsym but that's not working either. Not coughing at nighttime so I'm really at a loss for what it could be. Please let me know what you may think it could be and offer me any questions to ask her cardiologist at our Tuesday appointment.

Expert's Reply


Cough Expert
- 2020/03/02

Your mum obviously has a failing heart due to her valve problem though I note she's elected not to go the surgical way.  Your cardiologist can advise how severe this problem is and recurrent episodes of the lungs flooding with more fluid than normal may account for the cough.  This can be quite subtle and may not be easily measurable (in terms of both timing and tools).  Of course there could be completely unrelated causes for her cough.  Sometimes blood pressure lowering medication (and depending on the heart problem she has she might be on one of those) could also causes a cough.  Other common causes include post-nasal drip from chronic hay fever and acid coming up the food pipe (GORD).  There are also other lung causes.  You should discuss these with your consultant and they can investigate further if appropriate.

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