Paulette Nyahay Explains How Chronic Cough Is Overwhelming

SAP Partners | <b>American Lung Association</b>

Chronic cough makes it difficult to be in public, whether socially or professionally, explained Paulette Nyahay, a patient with chronic cough. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, having a coughing spasm in public has been difficult.

Chronic cough makes it difficult to be in public, whether socially or professionally, explained Paulette Nyahay, a patient with chronic cough. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, having a coughing spasm in public has been difficult.

Transcript

How does chronic cough affect your quality of life? How has it impacted you personally and professionally?

This chronic cough can be extremely overwhelming, and actually can cause fear to go out. Professionally, I'm a sign language interpreter, which puts me on a platform, and I am using my hands but you're breathing in, and if you start coughing, how do you control that when you're in a very professional setting? You could be in a medical setting, you could be in a business meeting, you could be at a funeral, you could be at a church service, you could be in a classroom situation. What do you do? You have to say, “Excuse me,” and you start coughing. And when I say coughing, the coughing can get to a place where you are wrenching and gagging.

So, I've had to excuse myself. Thank goodness, there was another interpreter there that can take my place. And I'm coughing, as I'm leaving the room. People are looking at you. It's overwhelming.

There are times where when I go out, even now, especially if you have to wear a mask, I get a little concerned that I'm going to have a coughing spasm. And it could get bad, or I can control it. I've learned. I've had some feedback with the second doctor, the ENT [ear nose and throat] doctor that I work with. I worked with a voice specialist to help me get my register back. This is as good as I can get right now, where I don't have to yell to talk, because I really damaged a lot from coughing. And a lot of medications do it, too.

So, I had some voice therapists come in and we worked on some feedback of odors and smells that sometimes can trigger things. So that helped. But still, that's what I use when I go out. Or I really don't. I try not to go out, and especially during the pandemic right now, it's been difficult. I was having some surgery, so I had to stay in the house and avoid people anyway until I got my vaccine.

It's very, very difficult to live with this chronic cough. Because you don't know when [it’s coming]. It's very random. It's like I say, an example is: Everybody's experienced an eye twitch. And you go “Oh darn." You feel it and nobody else can really see it, but you're feeling it. You're feeling it pretty strong, and you can't control it. That's what happens.

You don't have control really over when a coughing spasm happens. Because it's really a sensory thing. It's not like I feel tight, I don't feel well. I can tell the difference that. you know, I went next to some ragweed or something and I could feel it tighten up or it's you know, sinus tripping causing more asthma. It's not that at all. It's very sensory.