Episodes of excessive phlegm from upper left chest without cough (TB)

Posted by teclectic @teclectic, Apr 25 1:55pm

Hi Everyone,

I was diagnosed with active pulmonary tuberculosis in August of 2020. I am still completing my medicines and is supposed to finish treatment in May 2021. It has been a hard journey still full of concerns whether I am actually cured or not. I migrated to a different country at the end of 2019, away from family, for a graduate degree only for TB to take over everything.

Since December of 2020, I experience clear white phlegm being produced in left upper chest after I eat breakfast. I never feel the urge to cough until its too much and I just cough to get it all out.

I also have strong acid reflux and heart burn due to medicine and I take medicine around 8am in the morning. Usually the episode of phlegm production lasts for 1 to 2 hours and afterwards it is mostly fine the whole day.

On talking with doctor at TB clinic, they always say that its due to acid reflux but my understanding is that acid reflux causes phlegm in throat not airways? Why only on the left side. Can it be that its caused by TB, although I don't have other TB symptoms such as lack of appetite or weight loss.

If someone has any idea or clue what is happening, please let me know I will be extremely thankful to finally understand the reason for this.

I don’t really have an answer for you, except that I have the same strange symptoms … excess mucus (phlegm) that is produced solely in my upper right lobe (so you aren’t entirely alone here). I’ve had so many tests (high-res CT scan last week) and they’ve all produced “normal” results. Dr.’s remain adamant that I have persistent asthma affecting that lobe despite my push for further investigations. It’s been a drag on my quality of life … but it does seem to be getting better, slowly and gradually.

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If you have had TB, you are at risk for recurrence, and also for other lung infections. Infection symptoms can come on slowly – I had MAC (a non-tubercular mycobacteria infection) for over 2 years with coughing and mucus before I experienced weight loss, night sweats, etc. Maybe your doc should do a sputum culture to see what is happening?
Sue

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@sueinmn

If you have had TB, you are at risk for recurrence, and also for other lung infections. Infection symptoms can come on slowly – I had MAC (a non-tubercular mycobacteria infection) for over 2 years with coughing and mucus before I experienced weight loss, night sweats, etc. Maybe your doc should do a sputum culture to see what is happening?
Sue

Jump to this post

I am still undergoing TB treatment and will be doing xray test and probably a sputum test as well in May. I not sure about TB though since I don't have cough and other TB symptoms which I used to have last year. Also my xray from January was good according to doctor. But as you said, I am also worried about reappearance. Even then I wonder, I never had this issue during peak of my TB issues. I used to have cough with phlegm sometimes which was red or yellow. Red because my lungs started to get damaged and it was blood staining my phlegm. Right now, it's just clear , almost like saliva but thick and coming from chest. My weight has remained the same as well throughout the last 5 months.

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@otter2154

I don’t really have an answer for you, except that I have the same strange symptoms … excess mucus (phlegm) that is produced solely in my upper right lobe (so you aren’t entirely alone here). I’ve had so many tests (high-res CT scan last week) and they’ve all produced “normal” results. Dr.’s remain adamant that I have persistent asthma affecting that lobe despite my push for further investigations. It’s been a drag on my quality of life … but it does seem to be getting better, slowly and gradually.

Jump to this post

Do you have Acid reflux or any other issue and is your mucus throughout the day? I really hope that you don't get Asthma and its just something minor.

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@teclectic

I am still undergoing TB treatment and will be doing xray test and probably a sputum test as well in May. I not sure about TB though since I don't have cough and other TB symptoms which I used to have last year. Also my xray from January was good according to doctor. But as you said, I am also worried about reappearance. Even then I wonder, I never had this issue during peak of my TB issues. I used to have cough with phlegm sometimes which was red or yellow. Red because my lungs started to get damaged and it was blood staining my phlegm. Right now, it's just clear , almost like saliva but thick and coming from chest. My weight has remained the same as well throughout the last 5 months.

Jump to this post

Glad to hear you are being carefully followed. When my daughter got TB (nurse in county jail) her clear mucus continued for nearly a year after the original colored phlegm cleared. I have constant clear mucus after 1.5 years of treatment for NTM – pulmonology nurse says it may be with me "for a long time" – and that clearing it is key to staying healthy – TB and NTM love to grow in it if it thickens and stays in the lung.
Sue

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@teclectic

Do you have Acid reflux or any other issue and is your mucus throughout the day? I really hope that you don't get Asthma and its just something minor.

Jump to this post

No acid reflux or other issues that my medical team has discerned. Recent CT scan showed no signs of infection or other issues. Clear, sticky mucus is constant (right upper lobe). I get relief from laying on my left side. (Some days are better than others, but otherwise I feel really good.) Prevailing opinion is that I had “something” that caused this. I did have very severe Covid symptoms back in Nov / early Dec. I probably should have been hospitalized but toughed it out at home … lingering mucus could be a long-hauler issue. Another opinion is that I encountered a chemical of some kind that has irritated that lobe. My instincts (yes I listen to them sometimes) tell me that this mucus issue could be with me for a while, but it does seem to be improving very slowly (Sue’s comments about her and her daughter’s lingering mucus issues hit home for me). I’ve been riding my bike many miles without breathing issues and energy level is finally back to normal.

REPLY
@sueinmn

Glad to hear you are being carefully followed. When my daughter got TB (nurse in county jail) her clear mucus continued for nearly a year after the original colored phlegm cleared. I have constant clear mucus after 1.5 years of treatment for NTM – pulmonology nurse says it may be with me "for a long time" – and that clearing it is key to staying healthy – TB and NTM love to grow in it if it thickens and stays in the lung.
Sue

Jump to this post

I see. I think then I should become accustomed to it and just not worry because I have no other symptoms. Thank you so much @sueinmn for providing valuable information. It feels good to have support during such a depressive disease.

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@otter2154

No acid reflux or other issues that my medical team has discerned. Recent CT scan showed no signs of infection or other issues. Clear, sticky mucus is constant (right upper lobe). I get relief from laying on my left side. (Some days are better than others, but otherwise I feel really good.) Prevailing opinion is that I had “something” that caused this. I did have very severe Covid symptoms back in Nov / early Dec. I probably should have been hospitalized but toughed it out at home … lingering mucus could be a long-hauler issue. Another opinion is that I encountered a chemical of some kind that has irritated that lobe. My instincts (yes I listen to them sometimes) tell me that this mucus issue could be with me for a while, but it does seem to be improving very slowly (Sue’s comments about her and her daughter’s lingering mucus issues hit home for me). I’ve been riding my bike many miles without breathing issues and energy level is finally back to normal.

Jump to this post

I see. I too suspect TB medicine irritating my airways. That being said, it seems like the problem I discussed is quite commonplace. I wish full recovery for everyone

REPLY
@sueinmn

If you have had TB, you are at risk for recurrence, and also for other lung infections. Infection symptoms can come on slowly – I had MAC (a non-tubercular mycobacteria infection) for over 2 years with coughing and mucus before I experienced weight loss, night sweats, etc. Maybe your doc should do a sputum culture to see what is happening?
Sue

Jump to this post

I also have mac and stage emphysema what was your treatment for Mac I've been taking three antibiotics for over a year now I hope I don't have to go for another year I'm in the hospital getting a lung transplant evaluation or hopefully I'll qualify for the zephyr valve which would at least give me a little bit more time definitely hard to handle

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