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"Can gastric bypass surgery cause a chronic cough?"


Earlier this year, I got gastric bypass surgery on the recommendation of my doctor. My weight is coming under control, but I've developed a cough that just won't go away. Could the surgery have somehow caused my cough?


Congratulations of completing your gastric bypass surgery. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your health. Gastric bypass, as I'm sure you are aware, is a significant surgery with many possible complications--I encourage you to follow up with your primary care doctor and / or gastric surgeon to ensure this is not a symptom of a more serious condition.

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In general, chronic cough has a few major causes that comprise most of people's complaints. One of these major causes is gastric esophageal reflux disease or GERD. This is also known as heartburn. Basically, stomach juices go up the food pipe and cause irritation of the upper airways and therefore cause cough. This can occur even without classic heartburn symptoms such as chest pain, sour taste or indigestion. Gastric bypass, which decreases your stomach size, can cause this reflux to increase. In general, one can try antacids or acid suppression medicines (such as omperazole) to held reduce this--but talk to your doctor first. A more extensive esophageal pH monitoring can also be done to formally rule this out. Other major causes of chronic cough include asthma, post-nasal drip (allergies), and smoking. Post-viral reactions can also cause this. Cough, in the setting of fevers/shortness of breath could represent a life threatening pneumonia. Please talk to your primary care doctor about if your bypass is causing the chronic cough or if other common causes are the culprit.

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