Throat Radiation After-Effects, Aspiration & Suffocating Mucous
I am a 61-year-old woman that finished the last of 35 radiation treatments last March 2020. Since then, I have had pneumonia and other lung infections which was finally attributed to aspiration of solids and liquids after a barium swallow test. In that regard, I had a feeding tube inserted hoping that would be the beginning of lung healing, although this is not the case. It has been horrible, with shortness of breath, and at times rushing to the ER because I could not catch a breath. All this time I have been on one antibiotic after another, going on 6 months now! The last two months have been Doxycycline 100 mg. twice per day. Obviously the feeding tube has not stopped the feeling of having constant Bronchitis and if I stop taking the Doxycycline, within two days the substance in my lungs begins turning in consistency to that of super-glue. I had a bronchoscopy done 10/2020, which found heavy e-coli in my lungs, and a sputum test revealed "MRSA" and "Stenotrophomonas Maltophilia." The pulmonologist and Infectious Disease doctors have both denied me any more antibiotics, and I understand their concerns, yet, they have no suggestions for me.
As I sit here, it is 3:00 a.m., and I can not sleep due to the gunk in my lungs making it hard to breath. If I quit taking the Doxycycline, I will be hospitalized within 2-days time, or at the Emergency Room again, in terms of not being able to clear the mucous and breathe. I have to go to urgent-care about once-per-month to have the antibiotics, and that doctor feels I should be on them until (if) this subsides.
I feel as if no-one cares about this condition, or, they know what it is but do not want to admit the truth that the radiation caused this. It must be aspiration causing this lung condition, as there was nothing wrong with my lungs before having radiation for cancer of the Pyriform Sinus (part of throat). The cancer is supposedly gone now, and I am thankful for that. I was a fitness nut, that exercised and ate a healthy greens diet, plus a non-smoker.
I asked the pulmonologist nurse before Thanksgiving what I am supposed to do with no antibiotics…"just die?" She laughed at that statement. Yet, they offered no alternative, or help. My ENT Doctor scopes me approximately every 3 months, and claims my throat is still extremely swollen, yet the swelling is subsiding very slowly. For 8 months I could only whisper, but now have my voice back. The ENT said he can finally see my vocal cords, but this thick mucous problem goes on. If you put your fingers on the depressed area of your throat–by the Trachea–that is the area where the mucous seems to be lodged. Again, as long as I am on antibiotics, the thick mucous can be coughed up with the help of a nebulizer of 7% saline. If I am not on antibiotics, the mucous turns into a cement-like substance, whereupon nothing will dislodge it. The hospital gave me IV antibiotics twice, which began clearing it up rather fast.
By the way, I have been to two Pulmonologists, and both are stumped. They both prescribed many different inhalers–Albuterol, Symbicort–others, and if this is any clue, these inhalers make my throat worse. In fact, the last time I used the albuterol was in desperation, and it almost closed up my throat totally. The second-opinion Pulmonologist described that reaction as "very interesting." Currently, not taking solids or liquids by mouth, in hopes this will go away.
Sorry to write all that! This has been submitted hoping someone will instruct me as to where to go from here? Another ENT, or another Pulmonologist?
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Sorry for your loss. If you would like to seek bereavement support, I want to let you know there is also a loss and grief support group here:
– Loss & Grief Support Group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/loss-grief/
Thank you for checking in. Sadly, my dad lost his fight on the 20th of April. The reoccurring aspiration pneumonia prevented him from regaining strength and health.
@loswan41, just checking in. How is your dad doing? How are you doing?
I'm sorry to read all your ongoing problems. My God what a nightmare.
I will be subjected to throat radiation in the very near future for throat cancer myself. I just recovered from esophageal cancer / esophagectomy 3 yrs. ago (feeding tube etc). Now I get to do it all over again. Myself & my teams here in Willmar & Rochester, MN are very very optimistic as the cancer was found very early. This coming next Monday I go to Mayo to have the J tube inserted again into my intestine (cannot do the G tube in the stomach as the stomach was stretched up to replace the absent esophagus). I too never had lung / breathing issues until that surgery. I have a nebulizer that I use & I take 1200 mg Mucinex BID. I do understand that swallowing / eating is difficult for you so might I suggest rather than the tablet form they do offer the liquid form of Mucinex. I honestly swear by this stuff. I helps to loosen, break up, "thin" the mucus so it's easier to expell. I hope & pray you find something that helps you.
Living the Dream isn't all it's cracked up to be is it my friend?
God Bless & Healing prayers,
Retired Dietary Mgr.
I’ll be praying for you.
Hi, so sorry to hear of your difficulties! I went through same treatment with my cancer which at that time was not in my throat but my neck. With a lot of unparalleled diagnosis they finally gave me a PET scan which showed up a quite large Tumour running from under my jaw down the right side of under jaw towards the larynx and had at that stage reached the lymph nodes as well. Anyway 35 rads and chemo for the seven weeks as well as the old Peg for feeding for 3 months.
I actually felt not bad at that stage. But then the pain started up again Tri geminal neuralgia. Lots of pain meds and some even aspirated as glottis didn't always want to close up. Then the whole mucous thing started about 6 months after treatment. That has progressed to a as you have it chocking problem. Unfortunately as I have found out there is no cure for this (apart from mine) and will continue. The Doctors have just given up on me.
The constant chocking and coughing has irritated the Larynx so much that I feel it has now caused the cancer to pop up in my larynx where it never was before. I had a biopsy last week and will be phone appointing with the ENT surgeon tomorrow to learn my already known fate.
I sincerely hope you find some peace and resolution.
@loswan41, hello. I am sorry to hear your father is going through this. Please click my profile to see past comments for an update! Since that post, I found that my vocal cords are bilaterally paralyzed. This is why the mucus was trapped. A tracheotomy was done a few years ago, and it is the best thing that ever happened to me. The mucus is now accessible! Please have your father get an ENT to do a thorough scoping of his throat to see if they can find the problem. Best of wishes to you and your father. Please stay in touch and feel free to ask questions if you desire.
Hello, First of all, thank you for sharing your experience. I am reaching out to see if you have found something that works to help manage the mucous. My dad is 7 weeks out from 37 treatments of radiation on the base of his tongue and his throat. My dad could have written everything you have written here his case is so similar to what you’ve described. Would you be willing to update here even if you have not been successful in finding relief? Sincerely Lauren
@karlm, you wrote elsewhere that your husband "completed chemo radiation for throat cancer in December 2021. and that his stoma still hasn’t closed 12 months after trach removal. He is not able to swallow anything and has a PEG tube. The ENT recommends closing the stoma in next month; however, we are concerned about having the procedure done. He has a great amount of mucus coming out of the stoma."
You say that you fear aspiration if the stoma is closed.
I'm tagging you in this discussion:
– Throat Radiation After-Effects, Aspiration & Suffocating Mucous https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/throat-radiation-after-effects-aspiration-suffocating-mucous/
I did this so you can connnect with members like @mojo244 @jbj @toony @melanchete @thomason @doglover888 @suz22 @jessskoldal and many others.
How is your husband doing?
Ask for salagen or any saliva stimulate that did help me