Image found on Shorpy.Ah, geez. Here I go again.
If you heard me hacking a and coughing and wheezing today, I'm sure you'd think that I was at least a 2 pack a day smoker. Which I'm not.
Well, except for the time when I was six or so and Dad and Mom told us kids never to start smoking. And I, being the Bratty Outer Child Julia (vs. the Bratty Inner Child Julia that now resides here) that I was, told Dad that I could do whatever I wanted to. So there. And that included smoking. I seem to recall blowing a raspberry and sticking my tongue out at some point in that discussion.
So Dad, who smoked a pipe at the time, was silent for a moment as our eyes locked in a parent/child staredown. Finally he said, "So you think smoking would be a pretty good thing to do, eh?"
I can smoke if I want to, so there!
"Well, now. If you're going to smoke, there's no time like the present, I always say. Why don't you start right now?"
Now? Um. Well, OK! Nyeah! I will!
Dad calmly went to his desk and filled his pipe with tobacco. He lit it, and after taking a few puffs to make sure it was really smoking, handed it to me. My siblings gathered around, giggling. This had all the earmarks of some real entertainment.
I looked at it, then looked at Dad, then clamped the pipe stem between my teeth and began defiantly puffing in and out and in and out and in and out....
Funny how the room began to swim......hey Dad, when did you turn such a strange color.....gee, Mom, I don't feel so good........what's so funny, you guys?.........oh, man, think I'm going to hurl.........I barely made it to the back door and upchucked my entire lunch.
Dad! Are you crazy or something? I weakly asked. Why would anyone SMOKE?
And that was the last time my lips touched anything tobacco-ish.
So. I'm hacking and coughing over the last few days and it has nothing to do with any unsavory smoking habits. And this particular brand of coughing has unfortunately visited me pretty regularly. I don't like it. It starts out as a simple kind of dry tickle-in-the-throat thing with maybe a bit of sniffle. But then it progresses to the point where my chest feels tight and I cough almost constantly. It's exhausting.
The last couple times that this nasty cough has been problematic, I presented myself to my doctor, who ordered a chest x-ray and listened carefully to my lung sounds. The chest x-ray seemed normal. My doctor told me that a virus caused a minor irritation to my larger airway passages. This minor irritation changed to a major problem since Sjogren's had caused my airway passages to be dry and super sensitive. After doing some research, it seems as though many Sjoggies have hyper-reactive airways. Here's a quote but you can read the report in it's entirety from the medical journal Chest here.
Cough is observed in > 50% of patients with Sjögren syndrome and is the most common pulmonary symptom.66 The pathogenesis of cough is partly related to the drying of the mucosa in the upper airways, including the trachea (xerotrachea).67 One mechanism of cough in patients with Sjögren syndrome is the presence of bronchial hyperreactivity. A prospective study68 of 21 patients with Sjögren syndrome demonstrated slight-to-severe bronchial hyperreactivity to methacholine challenge in 60% of patients, and 83% in this group had a nonproductive cough. The bronchial hyperreactivity is theorized to be the result of lymphocytic inflammation leading to bronchial gland dysfunction.69 If other respiratory manifestations are present, there may be more than one pathogenic mechanism for the harsh cough observed in these patients. A majority of patients with cough and Sjögren syndrome have normal chest roentgenogram findings.6667 Treatment is symptomatic in patients with primary Sjögren syndrome and is disease-specific in those with secondary Sjögren syndrome. The role of long-term steroid therapy to treat cough in this group of patients is unclear.
She recommended some comfort measures such as humidifying my home with a cool mist humidifier, using over the counter cough medications, and sucking on menthol cough drops.
It appears this nasty virus is back. Rats. Guess I'll have to keep an eye on things and head back over to the clinic if it hangs on. This may require a bit of additional investigation....