Asthma UK community forum

sputum samples

has anyone got any tips on getting stuff definitely from your lungs up for a sputum sample*?

I have been on I've been on 2 courses of clarithromycin and a course of amoxocillin and I'm still coughing green/yellow bloody (can be streaky, can be brownish, 9 times out of 10, its streaky, sorry for tmi) stuff up.

*its usually taking retching to bring anything up*

8 Replies

do you have home nebs? i think if you do you can be prescribed saline nebs to help you bring stuff up, i'm pretty sure i've heard it being done in hosps and if i complain that i can 'move stuff around' in my lungs but not get rid of it they usually start giving me a sline neb after my usual ones. Other than that the only thing i could think is maybe OTC cough medicines which thin the mucus but you'd obvs have to check you are ok to take these (i susect the pharmacist would know) good luck! although now you have a sputum pot you could just wait till you bring stuff up when you retch and use that?


What about asking consultant to prescibe you Carbocisteine?

It thins the mucus so makes it easier to cough up off your chest.

Also, do you have a physio or have been taught how to do physio yourself as that would help cough up the mucus?



Hey there!!

Great ideas from other folk...also if your asthma can manage and cope ok with it, could u try the good old head of a hot steaming bowl of salty steamy water and breathing in deeply a few times to try and incourage it. Also instead of actually coughing, i find i have to ""huff"" to shift the gunk when its so thick. And by this i mean huffing as if steaming up a mirror.

Hope u have some good gunk shifting sessions!!



I don't know if you're well enough to swim, but I always find that after about 10 minutes in the water I'm coughing up all sorts of rubbish. If that doesn't work I'll go into the steam room (but not for too long - I want to cough, not suffocate!), which does the same as Charlie Warlie's bowl of hot water but I find it easier to cope with as I can sit completely upright.


no home nebs, may be getting referred to a physiotherapist, I have a 3rd year uni friend who's training to be a physiotherapist. hmm. I'm not due back in clinic for about 3 months now, but will ask about the stuff to try thin mucus. swimming is out of the window, walking upstairs is leaving me short of breath. lol. will try the steam though.

woke up wheezy (I think - a low pitch whistling seems to be coming outta me) this morning and seem to be coughing stuff up, but don't think it'll be enough for a sample. stupid lungs. :(

thanks for the suggestions :)


If you see a physio, they could give you postural drainage - that has really helped me in the past to get stuff up. Or you could do what I used to do and hang upside down off the end of your bed LOL - gravity works a treat sometimes ;) Carbocisteine is really helpful in thinning mucus, but if its already thick and infected it tends to stay thick in my experience, till infection is gone.

Saline nebs are also great for loosening stuff, but if you're asthmatic they like you to have the first one in hospital, as it can cause additional wheezing in some people who cant tolerate them.

Be careful with the steam, for some asthmatics humidity is a real no no, but it works wonders for others!

You only need something the size of a five pence piece for a sample, they only need a tiny bit! :)

Feel better soon,

Lynda :)


You only need something the size of a five pence piece for a sample, they only need a tiny bit! :)

really? I've been getting my knickers in a twist over nothing? haha, that's all I've been bringing up - stuff around the size of a 5p coin. I assumed with the tub, they'd want a fair bit to get a decent sample from.


lol I think plenty of us have done, myself included. I used to work on a respiratory ward when I was a student nurse, and I hated collecting the warm sputum pots!!! A job they always gave the students ;) Because they were always so full, later when a patient, I assumed you needed loads.

I remember during my last admission, the team was waiting unsuccessfully for me to cough something up. I eventually did - and promptly binned it because it was the size of a 5p piece. They had a pink fit hahaaa, turns out its all thats needed to grow bugs.

So, untwist those knickers.. lol

Have a lovely weekend, Lynda :)


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