Paulette Nyahay Outlines Journey to a Chronic Cough Diagnosis

After years of having cough related to asthma, it took a long time for a specialist to realize Paulette Nyahay had a chronic cough unrelated to her asthma.

After years of having cough related to asthma, it took a long time for a specialist to realize Paulette Nyahay had a chronic cough unrelated to her asthma.

As someone with asthma cough and chronic cough unrelated to asthma, how did you know the difference between the 2 coughs?

So, being a person that for years and years and years I had asthma, it was very hard to make that determination because it was years down the line that I was told that I have something more than asthma. And it took a while for me to be convicted that that was absolute something true.

And so, after a while, when you distinguish that, yes, I've accepted the fact and fully understand now, there's a difference. And with my asthma, I usually have tightness. It's a real asthma and I start coughing and coughing. And that's totally different than when I have a chronic cough.

A chronic cough is brought on by sensation, a sensory issue in the back of my throat or on my tongue, or on the roof of my mouth, and even sometimes my ears will itch. And sometimes it is sometimes it's such a severe pinch to the back of your throat, that you start coughing and coughing.

So, you kind of learned the difference, but I thought it was all related to asthma, which it is not.

Many patients with chronic cough see multiple doctors before they are diagnosed. What was your diagnosis journey like?

I ended going to an ENT [ear, nose, and throat] doctor, a doctor that was a throat specialist because I had very, very bad laryngitis. There were a lot of issues going on. I had just recently come out of the hospital, again with asthma and bronchitis, which was very bad, and I was on IVs, everything, a full-blown asthma. But I ended up developing some polyps. So, I was recommended to see this doctor and I went and became a patient.

That was in 2005. Didn't get diagnosed under this doctor until about 2013. Once he did the polyps, I would go back, and we would work on my vocal cords because I'm very hoarse. And then he started to notice how much I cough. And this doctor does specialize in chronic cough. I just happened to be very fortunate.

But it was a struggle for me to come to the place that I have this thing called chronic cough. There's many names for it, which is sometimes a little bit confusing. Sometimes it's neuropathy, actually he used the word neuropathy at one point. Another physician that I went to, a specialist—this is not the first doctor that told me and treated me treated me for chronic cough—it’s a laryngeal cough. It's a sensory neuropathy. It's all different names.

It comes down to it's a chronic cough. Why do we have it? It's an unknown. It's unknown why, but it's true. It's there. I know I have it.