Mesothelioma is incurable and can be difficult to recognize. The rare cancer is caused by asbestos exposure but may not appear until many years later. Learning to identify the early warning signs, such as a dry cough, can help people get a diagnosis, but it is important to understand the relationship between dry cough and mesothelioma.
A dry cough is characterized as non-productive because there is no mucus released. A brief tickle in the throat can occur at any time, and conditions such as asthma, seasonal allergies, or a cold might cause a short bout of dry cough. An acute dry cough will clear up after several days and is usually not cause for concern. Dry cough is considered chronic if it lasts longer than eight days at a time, and at that point, it could mean that there is a more serious cause.
Persistent dry cough on its own can cause difficulties, as it impacts lung function and can reduce blood oxygen levels over time. More coughing causes more irritation and discomfort in the throat, resulting in sore throat and loss of voice. If a person is consistently coughing too hard, they may experience chest pain and other problems. Chronic dry cough may eventually lead to incontinence or nausea. It is important to address an ongoing dry cough and determine the root cause in order to prevent further complications.
Dry cough can appear early in the progression of mesothelioma and is one of the first indicators of the disease. As asbestos fibers irritate the tissue in the chest cavity, the pleura, or the lining of the lungs, will thicken and start to squeeze the lungs. The tumors that grow in that space also start to put pressure on the lungs, causing a dry cough. Many mesothelioma patients also develop pleural effusions, a buildup of fluid in pockets of the pleura, which can also contribute to a cough. As the disease progresses, all of these conditions can worsen and aggravate the cough.
Can a Dry Cough Be Treated?
A mild mesothelioma-related dry cough can be treated with the same remedies as cold sufferers. Over-the-counter drugs that include a cough suppressant can provide some temporary relief. Prescription remedies might include steroids or an inhaler. Patients can also modify their environment to improve ventilation, add a humidifier, and avoid irritants, such as smoke, heavy fragrances, or aerosol sprays. Hot beverages, soup, and herbal remedies can also be comforting, and some patients have found relief from alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, and meditation or deep breathing.
Treatments that address the underlying pressure on the lungs can be an effective way of alleviating dry cough associated with mesothelioma. Pneumonectomy and pleurectomy/decortication are surgeries that remove tumors in the pleura and some of the surrounding tissues, which can relieve some of the pressure in the chest cavity. Ultimately, however, a cough that is caused by mesothelioma is more likely to get worse as the disease progresses.
Some therapies may make the dry cough worse as they work to combat the disease. First-line treatment for mesothelioma can include radiation, which has been shown to cause a dry cough in patients. Surgery in itself does not typically cause patients to develop a cough, but complications afterward such as pneumonia might. It is possible that adjustments to a patient’s treatment regimen can help prevent dry cough.
Dry cough may not be the most concrete indicator of mesothelioma, but a persistent dry cough should be a red flag. If a patient has a history of asbestos exposure, they should mention this to their doctor.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Can Provide Legal Help if You Have Been Diagnosed With Mesothelioma
One of our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law can help you if you have received an asbestos-related diagnosis, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer. We advocate on behalf of those who have been negligently harmed by asbestos. Call 877-743-4652 or contact us online to discuss your case. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we assist clients across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.