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Doctor insights on: Gasping For Air While Coughing

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Dr. Sue Ferranti
3,613 Doctors shared insights

Cough (Definition)

The cough reflex is a protective mechanism that uses muscles in your throat and chest to expel mucous and saliva that may contain pathogens that would otherwise possibly be inhaled via aerosol or to expel pathogens infecting the throat and respiratory system. Cough benefits the host by reducing load and benefits the pathogen which may then spread via aerosol. ...Read more


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My daughter 26 months, had a cough where she's gasping for air. No other symptoms. Is this anything serious, should I take to doctor?

My daughter 26 months, had a cough where she's gasping for air. No other symptoms. Is this anything serious, should I take to doctor?

See a doctor: A cough that severe should be evaluated. You cannot know whether it is serious or not without her being checked by her pediatric provider. She could have reactive airway disease, whooping cough, croup, or an upper respiratory infection. You won't know, though, without getting it checked out. ...Read more

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I've had a cough for 3\4 weeks now but last week I started coughing up foamy phlegm and gasping for air then vomiting. Thought I was going to pass out.

I've had a cough for 3\4 weeks now but last week I started coughing up foamy phlegm and gasping for air then vomiting. Thought I was going to pass out.

Need MD eval.: At this point, you really need an evaluation by a doctor. First, the cough itself is going on for too long. Second, other symptoms have emerged in the meantime. You really need to be seen and evaluated. Blood testing, chest X-ray and such. Don't hesitate. ...Read more

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My 3 yr old woke up gasping for air and breof cough, then back to sleep twice this month. No snoring, sleeps well & naps. What cd this be? Go to Dr?

My 3 yr old woke up gasping for air and breof cough, then back to sleep twice this month. No snoring, sleeps well & naps. What cd this be? Go to Dr?

Likely a dream: The simplest most likely cause is a dream. If the kid is short of breath, coughing a lot, looking bluish in the face, lethargic, vomiting, in pain or otherwise not appearing well, go see the doctor. ...Read more

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Can an anxiety attack cause you to cough to the point that you are gasping for air? Symptoms are, rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing.

Can an anxiety attack cause you to cough to the point that you are gasping for air? Symptoms are, rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing.

Yes it can: Yes, anxiety attacks can make you gasp for air ; have rapid pulse. However, you also need a medical evaluation for these issues since asthma and other causes can result in similar outcomes. Panic attacks can cause all kinds of physical symptoms -- but please don't jump to that explanation without complete workup. If it's indeed anxiety, please know there are excellent treatments! ...Read more

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I COUGH ALL THE TIME AND IT FEELS LIKE MUCOUS IS STUCK IN MY CHEST AND THROAT. Sometimes I wake out of sleep gasping for air and coughing?

I COUGH ALL THE TIME AND IT FEELS LIKE MUCOUS IS STUCK IN MY CHEST AND THROAT. Sometimes I wake out of sleep gasping for air and coughing?

Evening cough: Your symptoms could be from post nasal discharge but also could be from a cardiac or pulmonary cause
i would suggest that you begin with your primary doctor for a full evaluation ...Read more

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Orange stool cough walking up at night gasping for air and my right foot is swelling?

Orange stool cough walking up at night gasping for air and my right foot is swelling?

See Dr. ASAP: Orange stools not worrisome (usually from eating foods with a lot of beta carotene, like carrots, yams, etc.), but coughing, gasping for air and foot swelling could be a sign of a very serious problem. If only one foot is swollen, first worry would be a DVT (blood clot in vein, which can travel to lungs). If swelling in both feet, first worry would be heart failure. Get checked out right away! ...Read more

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Antibiotics have cleared up a throat infection. However I still have a cough that makes me gag/throw up and leaves me gasping for air?

Antibiotics have cleared up a throat infection. However I still have a cough that makes me gag/throw up and leaves me gasping for air?

Asthma: It sounds like you may have a post infectious asthma type cough which may take weeks to months to resolve. You may benefit from an inhaled steroid and bronchodilator. You may also have a bacterial sinus infection which can cause the same type symptoms. It is time to see your doctor. ...Read more

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What to do if I have difficulty breathing after I cough?

What to do if I have difficulty breathing after I cough?

Bronchodilator: That's a typical asthma symptom. If you don't have previously diagnosed asthma, see your doctor and ask for spirometry with and without a bronchodilator and with methacholine challenge if otherwise normal. ...Read more

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I have a cough, difficulty breathing and flem. Had it for a week now. What can it be?

I have a cough, difficulty breathing and flem. Had it for a week now. What can it be?

Bronchitis: You have (by definition) acute bronchitis. Wait it out. It can takes weeks to resolve. If you develop fever or shortness of breath, seek professional assistance. ...Read more

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Hi there I've been having pain in my chest for about 3 days I also have difficulty breathing my upper back also hurts when I cough?

Hi there I've been having pain in my chest for about 3 days I also have difficulty breathing my upper back also hurts when I cough?

Examination: Your symptoms could reflect a bronchitis but in view of the breathing problem and chest discomfort on coughing, I recommend that you be examined by a physician for diagnosis and treatment. ...Read more

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Tactile fremitus on l/chest, only when exhaling deeply & hard. No pain, difficulty breathing or cough. Was chronic pot smoker. Should I worry?

Tactile fremitus on l/chest, only when exhaling deeply & hard. No pain, difficulty breathing or cough. Was chronic pot smoker. Should I worry?

Tactile fremitus: This is a term mostly used by old doctors like me, where did you get it? If it clears with a couple of deep breaths or a cough or two, it likely isn't a big deal. If you were examined by a dr. Who made this finding, then ask that doc what they think is going on. Simplest is go see your dr. And get checked out if you are concerned. ...Read more

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Every time I drink something with a temperature cool to cold my chest gets blocked up, have difficulty breathing and cough, what could this be?

Every time I drink something with a temperature cool to cold my chest gets blocked up, have difficulty breathing and cough, what could this be?

Reactive airway: Some are sensitive to cool drinks and get a transient reaction of the upper airways causing these symptoms. ...Read more

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How do I know when to go to the doctor for a wet cough and difficulty breathing?

How do I know when to go to the doctor for a wet cough and difficulty breathing?

Hard to say exactly.: Generally driven by symptoms. If you feel very systemically ill or have protracted fever, significant chest pain or coughing up blood, shortness of breath, wheezing or other abnormal breath sounds it is time to see doc. Ps - get a flu vaccine! ...Read more

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I am experiencing cough. The following also describe me: Difficulty breathing and Wheezing. What should I do?

Go to ED.: Not knowing about your medical history, of course, your symptoms could represent an attack of asthma, COPD, heart failure or pneumonia, just to name a few of the more significant possibilities. An immediate evaluation in an emergency department is in order. ...Read more

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My 21-month-old child has a severe cough, mostly during night when she's asleep, sometimes difficulty breathing at the end. What could be the problem?

My 21-month-old child has a severe cough, mostly during night when she's asleep, sometimes difficulty breathing at the end. What could be the problem?

New or chronic: If this is a chronic problem, she could have asthma or reflux or a number of other respiratory conditions. If it is new and she is making a sharp inhaling sound after a cough bout she could have pertussis or a pertussis like illness. Has she been vaccinated? If her breathing difficulty is not a characteristic sharp inhale with a whoop, she may, again have cough variant asthma, bronchitis, or a viral respiratory illness that needs to run it’s course. Use cool humidified air for comfort, allow her to drink a warm juice with honey to help suppress the cough, smash some cough drops and let her suck on small pieces, and if she is not better in a few days bring her in to her doctor. ...Read more

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I just had a virus and now I feel like I have a mild dry cough and slight difficulty breathing. Asthma or something else?

I just had a virus and now I feel like I have a mild dry cough and slight difficulty breathing. Asthma or something else?

Hard to say: If you are having trouble with your breathing, see your doctor. You may have asthma (or reactive airway disease), or an infection, or allergies, This can not be determined on-line. ...Read more

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My 2 months old baby has a cough (sounds dry), but he chokes on phlegm when coughing, and then has difficulty breathing. Any help or suggestions?

My 2 months old baby has a cough (sounds dry), but he chokes on phlegm when coughing, and then has difficulty breathing. Any help or suggestions?

See his doctor: This is most probably upper airways inflammation and causing reactive airways disease, meaning affecting the lower airways (passages) causing the dry cough. His pediatrician may prescribe some inhaled medications to help open up his airways and reduce the cough, also he may have reflux, common, if he has excessive wet burps, so practice reflux precautions, and clear his nose with saline for now ...Read more

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I have had a fever and cough with chest congestion for 4 days but last night it got better. This morning my congestion lead to difficulty breathing.

I have had a fever and cough with chest congestion for 4 days but last night it got better. This morning my congestion lead to difficulty breathing.

Call 911: If you are truly having difficulty breathing, do not drive yourself. Have someone else drive you or call 911. You should go to the emergency department. Good luck. ...Read more

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7 yr old male, pulse 116 resting, o2 lvl 79, excessive coughing, difficulty breathing deeply w/o cough. Emergent or dr in the morning? Cause?

7 yr old male, pulse 116 resting, o2 lvl 79, excessive coughing, difficulty breathing deeply w/o cough. Emergent or dr in the morning? Cause?

Call 911: If your O2 monitor is correct this is an emergency and the kid needs to be seen immediately and receive supplemental oxygen.Sort out the reasons later. Call 911 or go immediately to the closest ER. ...Read more

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I've been sick with a cold and after day 5 I have a deep cough, I'm extremely lightheaded and I have difficulty breathing along with chest pains.?

I've been sick with a cold and after day 5 I have a deep cough, I'm extremely lightheaded and I have difficulty breathing along with chest pains.?

Chest cold: Your upper respiratory infection has spread to your breathing passages and now you have acute bronchitis. There may be a component of asthma as well, even if you've never had asthma before. If you're uncomfortably short of breath, you should go immediately to an ER for prompt treatment. If it's just a nuisance symptom, you ought to at least see your doctor tomorrow to be examined. ...Read more

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26m old daughter has chest congestion for over a month with cough n sometimes difficulty breathing. We use hot humidifier n Vicks rub. Suggestions?

26m old daughter has chest congestion for over a month with cough n sometimes difficulty breathing. We use hot humidifier n Vicks rub. Suggestions?

Stop the vicks: This is not unusual at that age. Any previous cold or lower respiratory illness can be aggravated by fragrances like that in vicks. I never recommend that product until school age if ever. I find it prolongs the problem. ...Read more

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Diagnosed with bronchitis without a cough. Chest feels bloated but hard to burp. Chest feels congested but no difficulty breathing. What do you think?

Bronchitis: If you were examined by a doc and they heard what sounds like bronchitis in your chest it likely is correct. Sometimes the cough doesn't hit till it loosens up. Give it time. ...Read more

Dr. Sue Ferranti
1,284 Doctors shared insights

Difficulty Breathing (Definition)

If you are having difficulty breathing, you feel as though you are able to get enough air in, or get air out. Your oxygen ...Read more