Moderate Persistent Asthma and Phlegm

Posted by otter2154 @otter2154, Feb 18 6:05am

Six months ago I developed a chronic productive cough with SOB. This was highly distressing and when coupled with anxiety, made for quite a miserable cocktail. I experienced regular anxiety/panic attacks with dizziness and could barely make it through the grocery store. What made this even worse was that because these were also Covid symptoms, my GP would not see me in person (video visits only). So without a real examination, this largely went undiagnosed for another 60 horrible days. Then about a month ago a highly regarded Pulmonologist diagnosed me with Moderate Persistent Adult Onset Asthma (I am 57). My mother was diagnosed with asthma when she was 46. He has me on Symbicort and Singulair and this combination has seemingly worked well for me so far; cough is largely gone (I still cough a bit in the mornings, always have), I can take unobstructed, rewarding full breaths again, my energy level is up. I’m exercising and generally feel more like myself. Additionally, my spirometry results (lung function) have improved significantly, my oxygen level consistently hovers around 97, two chest x-rays have been clean, and the Pulmonologist says my lungs sound clear and healthy. But here’s what I’m struggling with now – Thick Phlegm without cough. The phlegm seems to accumulate gradually in my upper lungs and in the back of my throat. The volume isn’t huge, but very annoying. The phlegm is generally clear (light pale at times) and quite thick and sticky. And because my cough is pretty much gone, I have to “huff” this stuff up routinely and swallow (the sound is driving my supportive spouse crazy). I can force myself to cough, and this helps too. The phlegm waxes and wanes (some days are better than others). I don’t have allergies and don’t think this is allergy related. Mucinex also helps me get this stuff up. I’ve come so far in the last 45-days, with this being the last remaining significant symptom. Does anyone have any suggestions, comments, recommendations, or similar experience?

@otter2154 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, a place to give and get support.

You must be relieved to have a treated diagnosis but not all of the symptoms have gone away.

Members like @cdee @trixie1313 @rosemarya @merpreb @fiesty76 @spudmato @sueinmn @fracturedd have gone through something similar and/or may be able to offer suggestions or support.

Below I have linked two discussions where information may be found to answer your question.
– Throat Radiation After-Effects, Aspiration & Suffocating Mucous https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/throat-radiation-after-effects-aspiration-suffocating-mucous/
– Excessive mucus without cough https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/excessive-mucus-without-cough/

May I ask if you had a chance to read through past discussions and posts yet?

REPLY

Mucus can be a way of life with lung issues, and it can drive thepeople around us crazy!. You are correct about Mucinex being helpful – it is also pretty safe to use long-term (I have used it nearly full-time for over 30 years).
There are a few things that can help thing that mucus and keep you lungs clear –
Continue to use the Mucinex twice a day
Drink a lot of fluid to help thin the mucus – in addition to water, many of us in the lung group have found that Breathe Easy Tea by Traditional Medicinals helps – widely available in grocery & health food stores and on line
Steamy showers, followed by "huff coughing" or airway clearance (examples: (example: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/lung-mucus-clearance-reducing-the-breeding-ground-for-mycobacterium/ )
Saline in a nebulizer when things get really sticky & thick – actually gets into the lungs & thins the mucus. If you don't have a nebulizer, ask your doctor to prescribe one. Use special saline vials made for nebulizing. .9% should work, but if it doesn't, higher concentrations can be prescribed.

Good luck, and let us know whether this helps you.
Sue

REPLY
@erikas

@otter2154 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, a place to give and get support.

You must be relieved to have a treated diagnosis but not all of the symptoms have gone away.

Members like @cdee @trixie1313 @rosemarya @merpreb @fiesty76 @spudmato @sueinmn @fracturedd have gone through something similar and/or may be able to offer suggestions or support.

Below I have linked two discussions where information may be found to answer your question.
– Throat Radiation After-Effects, Aspiration & Suffocating Mucous https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/throat-radiation-after-effects-aspiration-suffocating-mucous/
– Excessive mucus without cough https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/excessive-mucus-without-cough/

May I ask if you had a chance to read through past discussions and posts yet?

Jump to this post

Thanks for your feedback. I did read through many previous posts the other evening and that is what prompted me to post my story. I hope to hear more from others. The clear sticky phlegm is active today (but it’s more manageable than usual).

REPLY
@sueinmn

Mucus can be a way of life with lung issues, and it can drive thepeople around us crazy!. You are correct about Mucinex being helpful – it is also pretty safe to use long-term (I have used it nearly full-time for over 30 years).
There are a few things that can help thing that mucus and keep you lungs clear –
Continue to use the Mucinex twice a day
Drink a lot of fluid to help thin the mucus – in addition to water, many of us in the lung group have found that Breathe Easy Tea by Traditional Medicinals helps – widely available in grocery & health food stores and on line
Steamy showers, followed by "huff coughing" or airway clearance (examples: (example: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/lung-mucus-clearance-reducing-the-breeding-ground-for-mycobacterium/ )
Saline in a nebulizer when things get really sticky & thick – actually gets into the lungs & thins the mucus. If you don't have a nebulizer, ask your doctor to prescribe one. Use special saline vials made for nebulizing. .9% should work, but if it doesn't, higher concentrations can be prescribed.

Good luck, and let us know whether this helps you.
Sue

Jump to this post

I put the Breathe Easy tea on my shopping list (I’ve seen it at Publix). I drink a hot tea once or twice most days. And regarding Mucinex, I’ve only tried it sporadically (when the phlegm was especially tough). I understand that it works best if you use it consistently (2 times, everyday). My Pulmonologist’s assistant actually suggested trying Mucinex routinely for 10 days (and to report back) … which I didn’t do. Considering how miserable I was a month ago, I could probably learn to live with the phlegm if I could get it up more discretely.

REPLY
@erikas

@otter2154 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, a place to give and get support.

You must be relieved to have a treated diagnosis but not all of the symptoms have gone away.

Members like @cdee @trixie1313 @rosemarya @merpreb @fiesty76 @spudmato @sueinmn @fracturedd have gone through something similar and/or may be able to offer suggestions or support.

Below I have linked two discussions where information may be found to answer your question.
– Throat Radiation After-Effects, Aspiration & Suffocating Mucous https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/throat-radiation-after-effects-aspiration-suffocating-mucous/
– Excessive mucus without cough https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/excessive-mucus-without-cough/

May I ask if you had a chance to read through past discussions and posts yet?

Jump to this post

Hello Erika,
Yes, I have read through many of them, and still going! There are so many helpful suggestions. Because of this website, I have become more of my own advocate. If you are interested, here is how this started!

When I first started getting a slight sore throat on one side, the doctor attributed it to allergies. Around this time, the dental hygienist noticed a sore in my throat, but the dentist said he could see nothing. Later on, I found that the dentist had written in my chart that I had an "Oropharyngeal Sore," and even had a measurement of it! This was NEVER related to me at all. Soon, my ear on that side began hurting too. I went to an ENT, and she scoped me. Although I could feel the tip of the scope touching the area of my pain, she proclaimed that I probably had "Arthritis" in my throat!!! What??? She then stated that the scope was not long enough to see further down my esophagus. She suggested an Endoscopy, so that was the next item. I explained to the Gastroenterologist where my pain was, and he went ahead with the procedure. When I awoke, he proclaimed that the only thing he found was a "Hiatial Hernia," which is pretty normal after having three children.

However, the pain in my ear and throat was getting really bad…I could hardly swallow anymore, and my ear was agonizing at times. So, I went to a different ENT, and this ENT suggested having my tonsils removed. This was quite ridiculous, because my tonsils have atrophied away due to age–as many people's tonsils do. The ENT set up a date for surgery, but I cancelled it. At this point, I am in a quandary not knowing where to turn next. My Family doctor recommended I go for a contrasted CT Scan. The radiology report said they could find nothing wrong, except the "Styloid Bones" were slightly elongated, which can press into delicate nerve tissue causing throat/ear pain. They termed it as "Eagles Syndrome," after the doctor in the 1930s that discovered the condition, a Doctor Eagle. Still, I knew this was not right, and it was something more…that Feeling we all get when we know something major is wrong.

My family doctor was losing patience with me, but she recommended I go to an Indiana University "IU Doctor." She explained they are "the best," so that is what I did. This IU ENT, and he scoped me as usual. Within 3 minutes, he saw the white, cancerous spot. How the Radiologists missed the tumor is beyond me, because the Cancer Treatment hospital showed us the CT Scan on a screen, and it was VERY Visible. In fact, it would have been virtually impossible not to see it.

So you see, this site is a lifeline to people. People that can not rely on the medical field to solve all their problems. Hopefully, we learn from one another. I posted a reply on another page which I hope was not overbearing: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/parotid-gland-cancer/
But the words are true, and maybe can help some other person.
One thing is sure, I am very thankful to have found Mayo Clinic Connect.
The mentors such as yourself, are helpful and friendly. That is greatly appreciated!
Thank-you!

REPLY

Hello otter2154, Your symptoms are like mine in some ways. The inhalers do not work for me at all, and make the throat feel like it is closing up. Lately, I am up at night every 2 hours nebulizing and deliberately coughing to try and loosen the mucous. It gets much worse at night. It is always there, even after coughing up as much as possible. It clears enough at that point so I can take a deep breath and get back to sleep, then it builds back up again within a few hours. I have a hospital bed I bought used (a blessing from God) with it set at an almost sitting position. I am trying everything there is to solve this. There was not one thing wrong with my lungs before I had radiation for throat cancer. The doctor says there is no way the radiation treatments caused this. Please read my posts on here if you want to, to see the rest of my symptoms. God bless you, and good luck.

REPLY
@otter2154

I put the Breathe Easy tea on my shopping list (I’ve seen it at Publix). I drink a hot tea once or twice most days. And regarding Mucinex, I’ve only tried it sporadically (when the phlegm was especially tough). I understand that it works best if you use it consistently (2 times, everyday). My Pulmonologist’s assistant actually suggested trying Mucinex routinely for 10 days (and to report back) … which I didn’t do. Considering how miserable I was a month ago, I could probably learn to live with the phlegm if I could get it up more discretely.

Jump to this post

If you decide to use Mucinex regularly, look for it online where it is much more affordable than in the drugstores. Be sure to get just the long-acting guiafenesin with no decongestant. The short-acting generics are not the same, and those with other drugs added are not as safe. Sent while sipping my second mug of tea.
Sue

REPLY
@anonymous217382

Hello otter2154, Your symptoms are like mine in some ways. The inhalers do not work for me at all, and make the throat feel like it is closing up. Lately, I am up at night every 2 hours nebulizing and deliberately coughing to try and loosen the mucous. It gets much worse at night. It is always there, even after coughing up as much as possible. It clears enough at that point so I can take a deep breath and get back to sleep, then it builds back up again within a few hours. I have a hospital bed I bought used (a blessing from God) with it set at an almost sitting position. I am trying everything there is to solve this. There was not one thing wrong with my lungs before I had radiation for throat cancer. The doctor says there is no way the radiation treatments caused this. Please read my posts on here if you want to, to see the rest of my symptoms. God bless you, and good luck.

Jump to this post

Indeed I read your posts … thanks for sharing. There have been more than a few nights when I was on the couch with pillows under my butt and legs up on the wall try to drain this stuff out.

REPLY
@sueinmn

If you decide to use Mucinex regularly, look for it online where it is much more affordable than in the drugstores. Be sure to get just the long-acting guiafenesin with no decongestant. The short-acting generics are not the same, and those with other drugs added are not as safe. Sent while sipping my second mug of tea.
Sue

Jump to this post

It’s been added to our Amazon Prime shopping list.

REPLY

@otter2154 Hi, my weird phlegm issue started a year ago. I've never had phlegm before, so it created such discomfort in my life. The rumble in my left lung created anxiety for me and I'm not an anxious person. My lungs felt as if there was a heavy glue inside them. Even after I would cough my lungs still felt heavy.
I have been taking 2 mullein capsules daily. I drink a ton of water, exercise, a lot of abdominal stretching and some walking. This has worked for me, I also eat very clean and consume a ton of fresh fruit and veggies- I try to avoid dairy. I still have to cough out phlegm once before I go to sleep each night, (some nights I fall asleep without coughing which is always a pleasant surprise) but after I feel my lungs are light and clear. I do have a couple bad days here and there. Also, I keep moving, even if its just standing, I always do better when I'm busy. Hope this helps.

REPLY

Thank you Fracturedd – anxiety is definitely in play for me. I’m sure I’m “huffing” and coughing more than I need to (I’m trying not to do it as often), as I understand that too much effort will only create more phlegm via irritation. I’m beginning to do many of the same things you are … hope I get positive results like yours.

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