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  #1  
Old 06-27-2012, 09:35 PM
KellyCriterion KellyCriterion is offline
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I've been coughing up phlegm for 6 years. How to make it stop?

I have been to many doctors about this over the last 6 years, I now turn to anonymous forum users whose medical credentials I can not verify.

I am a male in my late twenties.

I have suffered mild asthma all my life.

I have been coughing up phlegm for 6 years. It is white-ish in colour. I am unable to do much talking, or laughing, without some phlegm working it's way up in to my throat, and then me needing to "clear" it with some coughing.

Sometimes the amount of phlegm I am producing at any given time goes up and down, but it never fully goes away.

I have been taking asthma Ventolin and Seretide for years. I recently upped the strength of my Seretide dose (under doctor's instructions) to see if it would make a difference to the amount of phlegm I bring up. It did not.

I had a chest XRay last year to see if there was anything unusual showing, there was not.

One doctor told me that if I lived in a moudly dwelling, that could trigger my symptoms. I used to live in a moudly dwelling, but have now been living in a new, non-mouldy dwelling for almost a year. The symptoms persist.

After vigorous exercise, I usually bring up some chunky pieces of phlegm over the next day or two.

I am a non-smoker, and I don't take drugs other than my prescription asthma medication.

I have a high caffeine diet. I eat a lot of meat. I eat a lot of saturated fats.

But I am not overweight, I have a stocky, athletic build.

Any ideas what could be causing my phlegm issues?
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  #2  
Old 06-27-2012, 09:46 PM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyCriterion View Post
I have been coughing up phlegm for 6 years. It is white-ish in colour.
Since you have seen a number of medical professionals, I assume the phlegm was analyzed under a microscope. What was the outcome of that? Surely they must have been able to tell you what was making it white.
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  #3  
Old 06-27-2012, 09:59 PM
Kkrose Kkrose is offline
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Allergies?
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  #4  
Old 06-27-2012, 10:06 PM
computergeek computergeek is offline
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Have you just been checked by general practitioners or have you seen an allergy and asthma specialist as well? It could be allergies as kkrose suggested. Are you taking any medication for allergies? I'm not a doctor, but I would suggest seeing if you can get an MRI or whatever would allow looking more closely at your lungs.
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  #5  
Old 06-27-2012, 10:22 PM
samclem samclem is online now
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Looking for Medical Opinions? Try IMHO. Moved from General Questions.

samclem, Moderator
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  #6  
Old 06-27-2012, 10:26 PM
FloatyGimpy FloatyGimpy is offline
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Your symptoms sound very similar to what I've experienced for most of my life. I realized a few years ago that I wasn't actually coughing up phlegm from my lungs. What was actually happening was that I had a post-nasal drip which would trickle down the back of my throat, causing me to cough or clear my throat all the time.

My number one cure for the post-nasal drip is using a Neti Pot. If I use it daily, my symptoms are dramatically reduced.
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  #7  
Old 06-28-2012, 07:21 AM
Drain Bead Drain Bead is offline
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Do you eat dairy? My husband found that his overall phlegmminess went down when he cut back on dairy products.
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  #8  
Old 06-28-2012, 07:52 AM
VOW VOW is offline
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Another vote for the nose. That was the determination for me by an allergist. So I use a prescription nasal spray and an inhaler for the asthma.

I also take generic Mucinex to loosen up the crap that manages to escape from my nose and wander down to my bronchial tubes.

A neti pot works beautifully.


~VOW
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  #9  
Old 06-28-2012, 08:42 AM
KellyCriterion KellyCriterion is offline
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Thanks guys, I have a neti-pot on order from the local chemist. I'm cautiously optimistic that it could be my issue.

So thank you FloatyGimpy and VOW.
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  #10  
Old 06-28-2012, 10:44 AM
CanvasShoes CanvasShoes is offline
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I have had problems with my respiratory system since my 20s that are almost identical to yours. I'm 53, and only (finally) started seeing a specialist in my late 40s. Turns out its a form of asthma called chronic cough variant asthma. Inhalers help quite a bit. Maybe ask your dr about it.
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  #11  
Old 06-28-2012, 11:30 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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I'm not qualified to diagnose you, of course, but I can describe my own experiences. My excessive phlegm and mucus issues were the result of laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) not accompanied by heartburn symptoms. Antacids and proton-pump inhibitors were absolutely no help. The only thing that worked was lifestyle changes: Smaller and more frequent meals, no lying down after meals, no eating for several hours before bedtime, a less fatty diet, and looser-fitting clothes. I was also advised to cut back on coffee at the same time, and I did (modestly), but I'm not convinced that was one of the things that helped.
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  #12  
Old 06-28-2012, 01:12 PM
Bullitt Bullitt is offline
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Neti Pot looks unpleasant to use, but if it works for people, then that's cool.

I recommend two things: 2X daily gargling with Listerine, and the Rx nasal spray already mentioned by others because of post nasal drip. The gargling really cleans out the deep throat gunk (no deep throat jokes, please, I'm being serious). You'd be amazed how much gunk collects in the back of your throat. Listerine, the amber original one, is "harsh" such that it almost feels like your tongue and throat are being scraped clean. Takes a while to get used to, but doing this 2X daily (AM, PM) for a month or two will really clean things up. I suggest you give that a try.

The nasal spray does help with the post nasal drip. I use Flonase. Your doc should be able to give you a prescription.

HTH, and good luck.

Last edited by Bullitt; 06-28-2012 at 01:13 PM.. Reason: clarification
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  #13  
Old 06-28-2012, 01:28 PM
Hampshire Hampshire is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kkrose View Post
Allergies?
That was my thought as well. My summer allergies have been pretty awful lately and it leads to post nasal drip which in turn leads to coughing up phlegm.
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  #14  
Old 06-28-2012, 01:51 PM
astro astro is offline
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Your problem is caused by chronic nasal drip. It nothing to do with asthma or your lungs. I heartily recommend nasal irrigation, it will clear you right out after few days of use. I do not use the neti-pot, I use this device while in the shower which does the same thing with much less fussing.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Waterpik-S...sator/15126930

Turn it on and it injects the water into your sinus. It's IMO much less of a PITA than the neti-pot. Just use warm (body temp) shower water and mix in a saline packet. It will clean you out!

Do it two or three times in a row if you really want to get the crap out.

One warning with all irrigation devices is that occasionally a small amount of water can get temporarily trapped in your upper nasal passages and will release later (30 minutes to an hour or so) when you bend over. This also happens to surfers. This can be embarrassing socially so don't irritate right before going out on a date.
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  #15  
Old 06-28-2012, 02:12 PM
florez florez is offline
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I have no idea what might be causing it, but I had a less severe bout of something similar one year, and my family made me drink alot of Yerba Santa tea, but I wanted to be even more pro active and ordered Fenugreek seed which is an herbal remedy for coughing from bronchitis with heavy phlegm.

I put the seeds through my coffee grinder and made gelatin capsules with ground fenugreek and took about 4 to 6 caps per day depending on how bad it was. Also, I put the ground seeds in a pot of boiling water and inhaled the steam from it.
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  #16  
Old 06-28-2012, 10:28 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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If you do use a neti pot or other nasal irrigation device, always use boiled/distilled/filtered water and clean the device every time. Otherwise, there's a chance of this happening: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011...-water-warning
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  #17  
Old 06-29-2012, 06:41 AM
Postariti Postariti is offline
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I had trouble with post nasal drip all my life. I started taking guaifenesin (generic Mucinex), and it made an amazing difference.

It's a mucous thinner. It also seems to make my body produce less mucous. What is produced is thin and clear, and goes down my throat naturally, without irritation.
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  #18  
Old 06-30-2012, 07:15 PM
Bam Boo Gut Bam Boo Gut is offline
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More praise for the Neti pot! Warm up the water to body temperature.
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  #19  
Old 06-30-2012, 07:27 PM
The Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drain Bead View Post
Do you eat dairy? My husband found that his overall phlegmminess went down when he cut back on dairy products.
I'll second that.
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  #20  
Old 06-30-2012, 10:32 PM
VOW VOW is offline
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Use the neti pot in the shower. Just put the saline packet in the pot, then fill it up from the shower head and use it. Shower temperature is PERFECT for this purpose.

Gotta confess, though, I only use tap water straight from the tap when I'm on a municipal, chlorinated water system. At my AZ home where we have well water, I heat up bottled water in the microwave.


~VOW
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  #21  
Old 07-01-2012, 01:00 AM
ReBusEniGma ReBusEniGma is offline
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I've had a lot of trouble with phlegm in my throat for years and didn't have a clue why it was happening. I'm thankful for all the advice here and will certainly be trying the netti pot as well as some of the other solutions here. Reminds me why I love SD so much. Thanks for asking the question KellyCriterion!
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  #22  
Old 01-16-2014, 06:17 PM
ratari ratari is offline
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Same Issue Appreciate All The Advice But Check This Out...

Quote:
Originally Posted by astro View Post
Your problem is caused by chronic nasal drip. It nothing to do with asthma or your lungs. I heartily recommend nasal irrigation, it will clear you right out after few days of use. I do not use the neti-pot, I use this device while in the shower which does the same thing with much less fussing.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Waterpik-S...sator/15126930

Turn it on and it injects the water into your sinus. It's IMO much less of a PITA than the neti-pot. Just use warm (body temp) shower water and mix in a saline packet. It will clean you out!

Do it two or three times in a row if you really want to get the crap out.

One warning with all irrigation devices is that occasionally a small amount of water can get temporarily trapped in your upper nasal passages and will release later (30 minutes to an hour or so) when you bend over. This also happens to surfers. This can be embarrassing socially so don't irritate right before going out on a date.
I too have had issues with constant phlegm and frequent coughing. I have used the nasal rinses but they do take time boiling/adding the salt, etc so I was interested in your comment. But I did some more research and stumbled upon this news article. So maybe one should take the time to boil the water to distill/purify it, add salt, etc. I just don't want anyone to die over using shower water...

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/02/2...-nasal-washes/

Thank you to all who provided their input.

I have even heard that some folks think that yes heavy dairy and heavy carbohydrates actually cause more phlegm to build up. So maybe we should try that which will be very hard.
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  #23  
Old 01-16-2014, 06:29 PM
Isilder Isilder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyCriterion View Post
Sometimes the amount of phlegm I am producing at any given time goes up and down, but it never fully goes away.

Thats perfectly NORMAL.

The lungs are cleaned by phlegm being pushed up to the throat.

The phlegm should normally be swallowed by the automatic response and not be felt as an irritant.

The feeling of needing to cough is what is unusual.

But you do have asthma ... which is the airway being irritated...
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  #24  
Old 01-16-2014, 09:28 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Do you live in Belgium? If so you are Flemish. Move to Amsterdam where you can legally smoke weed and that will make you not care anymore.
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  #25  
Old 01-16-2014, 10:35 PM
carnut carnut is offline
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This works for me:

Drink lots of water. You may want to try mint tea as well.
Don't eat milk/yogurt/ice cream within six hours of going to bed.
Use a neti pot before you go to bed, especially if you have been around allergens such as pets and pollen. Be sure to heed the advice about using clean, warm water in your neti pot.
Get yourself tested for a mold/yeast allergy.
In the US, you can purchase mucus thinners over the counter. They seem to help me a lot.
Keep your neck warm.

I used to have embarrassing issues with phlegm. I practice all of the above when needed and have not had serious issues for several years now.
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  #26  
Old 01-17-2014, 05:24 AM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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I second the advise to not use tap water. You can either buy sterilized water or boil it yourself. But don't be forcing tap water up into your sinus cavity.
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  #27  
Old 01-18-2014, 05:03 AM
BigT BigT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PunditLisa View Post
I second the advise to not use tap water. You can either buy sterilized water or boil it yourself. But don't be forcing tap water up into your sinus cavity.
When they make a way to easily heat that type of water to the exact temperature of your body, I'll consider it. The tap is just too convenient for that purpose.

And using a neti pot with too hot or too cold water is horrible.
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  #28  
Old 01-18-2014, 11:17 AM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is online now
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Gee, if only there was an invention where you could put a pot of water on top of and just turn a dial to heat it up! Oh well. Maybe someone will invent one someday.

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  #29  
Old 01-18-2014, 11:36 AM
Eva Luna Eva Luna is online now
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87th-ing the advice to look into whether you have allergies, and if so, to what, so that you can possibly avoid it or mitigate it (and/or treat the allergies with meds, dust mite-proof mattress covers, air purifiers, washing linens weekly in hot water, etc. as I have been doing).
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  #30  
Old 01-18-2014, 01:42 PM
Lord Ashtar Lord Ashtar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
When they make a way to easily heat that type of water to the exact temperature of your body, I'll consider it. The tap is just too convenient for that purpose.

And using a neti pot with too hot or too cold water is horrible.
You realize that using tap water without boiling it first is a great way to fill your nasal cavity with pathogens, right?
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  #31  
Old 01-21-2014, 07:23 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinastasia
Gee, if only there was an invention where you could put a pot of water on top of and just turn a dial to heat it up! Oh well. Maybe someone will invent one someday.
This, of course, means one either must do neti in the kitchen sink (yummmm), or walk to the kitchen, heat the water, fill the neti pot, and head back to the bathroom. That'd be enough of an extra hassle that I would skip the step vs. going to the extra trouble.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Ashtar View Post
You realize that using tap water without boiling it first is a great way to fill your nasal cavity with pathogens, right?
How dirty IS your tap water?

I'm not ruling out that there may have been one or two instances where someone used truly contaminated water and died as a result. BUT, people have died from amoeba infections due to swimming in lakes and there are no generalized warnings against THAT, just to be careful where you swim.

With adequate quality tap water, the risks are minimal.

I'd be more hesitant to do so using the water-pik attachment, actually - that shoots the water up with some force. I tried it once, years ago, and it was THOROUGHLY unpleasant; not sure how someone says it's LESS trouble than a neti (where you mix, tilt your head, and pour slowly).
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  #32  
Old 01-21-2014, 08:55 AM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
I'm not ruling out that there may have been one or two instances where someone used truly contaminated water and died as a result. BUT, people have died from amoeba infections due to swimming in lakes and there are no generalized warnings against THAT, just to be careful where you swim.

With adequate quality tap water, the risks are minimal.
I realize that 2 deaths isn't exactly cause for alarm, but given that it's so easy to buy sterile water or boil it yourself, why risk it?

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellnes...ry?id=15170230

http://news.yahoo.com/brain-eating-a...lkA1ZJUDMzNF8x

"Pass it on: Neti pot users should use only sterile water, which has been boiled, distilled or filtered, the CDC says."

Last edited by PunditLisa; 01-21-2014 at 08:56 AM..
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