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Help! I cannot bring up any sputum. None at all! How am I going to check the progress of the disease without a sputum sample?I’ll either be taking the antibiotics too long or not long enough. I nebulize and huff every day but no joy. A bronchoscopy will do it but that’s an extreme test for checking sputum. I produced a sample when I was very sick with MAC and pseudonymous but after 3 1/2 months on the Big 3 I’m dry. That’s good but I need to know how I am progressing. Would appreciate any ideas.

Mary Jane

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Replies to "Help! I cannot bring up any sputum. None at all! How am I going to check..."

What percentage Saline are you using and what kind of breathing device are you using?

Hi Mary Jane - That can be an issue! When I was on antibiotics, but had not yet learned about 7% saline, I too was unable to provide a sample.

My pulmonologist had me come in to the office where his nurse first handed me 2 bottles of water to drink. Next, she loaded a nebulizer with 10ml of 10% saline, and had me neb the whole thing, while trying not to cough. She also had me sipping on a third bottle of water. When I used the Acapela for a few minutes, and finally huff coughed with her coaching. I finally got enough for a culture. I asked what would have happened if that didn't work, and she said she would have done manual percussion on my chest and back. She said in 20+ years as a pulmo nurse, she only had to send 2 patients for bronchoscopies to get their samples.

The biggest things I learned - enough liquid in the body, getting as mush saline in as possible before coughing, and proper huff coughing technique (I had been coughing from my throat which wasn't engaging the bronchi.)

Is there any chance you can work with an experienced pulmonology nurse or respiratory therapist?

Hi Mary Jane,
I would like to share my short lived (one year) experience with you, in hopes maybe it will help you.
When I used the Aerobika by itself to nebulize the saline, it didn't give me a throat tickle that usually precedes coughing up sputum. I switched to using the ECLIPSE XL (google it). When I use this, I set it on the actuator mode (if you read the directions, you will understand what I mean by this). I also use the mouthpiece that has the hole on the underneath part...it comes with it......., and the stream of steam and saline causes a stronger tickle in my throat, which in turn, encourages a good huff effect.
This is my experience......maybe you could try it. I do not connect the eclipse to the Aerobika. Some people do.
I use the Aerobika first......then use the Eclipse XL separately. I've been pretty successful getting up a decent amount of sputum every time. I hope this helps you.
I have noticed that some people on this blog are not successful in bringing up sputum. So you are not alone with that...but maybe it's worth a try to get the Eclipse...XL. They are not overly expensive...I use the Ombra machine. I really like it, it's well made and to me, more sturdy than other brands.
I sterilize the equipment (Never the Ombra or the tubing) in a baby bottle sterilizer that uses steam and then dries the items afterwards. I use a new tubing once a month.....and I leave the machine on for a few minutes, after nebulizing, and after removing the eclipse..so that any moisture in the tubing comes out and doesnt create built up molt and dirt).
The name of the sterilizer is BOLOLO BABY BOTTLE STERILIZER. It uses a small amount of water (I used bottled, distilled). I sterilize in the evening, that days items from two nebulizing sessions. It saves so much time, and the items are always nice and dry and sterilized. Sometimes I will run the dryer alone for 60 minutes, after the steam and drying session is over, just to make sure no residual moisture is left on the items. Bon