Pepe Gonzalez and managing the pulmonary fibrosis cough

pepe gonzalez 69yrs from london wearing blue shirt and blue jumper

Before my diagnosis I’d been feeling some pain on my lower back that wouldn’t go away. I also noticed that I often needed to cough to clear my throat before having a conversation but I wouldn’t call it severe.

As the disease progressed the coughing became more prevalent. It affected simple day acts; I’d cough when I laughed, after eating and in atmospheres where there are smells of chemicals, perfumes and aerosol deodorants  or spaces too hot or cold.

The cough has increased and sounds different as the time passes.

The sound of my cough is more grave and I now cough for longer periods.

I’ve had some truly frightening experiences where coughing has caused my throat to close and, for a few seconds, I can't inhale or exhale. This lasts only a few seconds but it is terrifying for my family.  

What has helped you manage your cough?

I reported the issue with my throat closing to my consultant who helped with some techniques.  I can now restore my breathing by remaining as calm as possible and inhaling through my nose.  

I stopped working soon after I was diagnosed due to a desire to do my best to deal with my condition and live my life in the best possible way. I’d say that my cough is a serious symptom but I try to deal with it by avoiding circumstances that may aggravate it. For example, I find that drinking water and keeping hydrated, having a small low sugar sweet in my mouth (liquorice is quite effective) and having small meals, help me to reduce my cough. Mentally, I feel I am doing well. I have a lot of support from my family and friends, also various hobbies as well as being quite involved in groups.

I do my best not to let the illness spoil my daily life.

At times my cough makes me tired or prevents me from having a peaceful night’s sleep. I used to go to the gym but I had to put in on hold with the pandemic. I now do online exercise classes and walks in the local parks.

Pepe checking his lungs at home using a digital spirometer

What needs to be done to help people with a persistent cough?

I really feel there needs to be more research into cough.

Having a persistent and uncontrollable cough causes exertion, can be a constant reminder of the illness and is frustrating. Better medications are urgently needed. It’s not just the patient that’s affected.  It affects your family and friends too.

Pepe with his family

> Information on managing a pulmonary fibrosis cough

> Pulmonary fibrosis cough research