Mucus as an asthma symptom

Hi, I had my first asthma review a few weeks ago and was told by the nurse that mucus wasn't a symptom of asthma. This was a shock as it's my main symptom and goes against the advice of a lung specialist I saw in Ireland earlier in the year who diagnosed allergic asthma. I was given a peak flow meter (never been tested before) and I've been keeping an eye on it. Today I've had a lot more mucus than usual and my peak flow dropped by over 20% over the course of the day. I hadn't noticed a difference in my breathing, but 10 minutes after a couple of puffs of the blue inhaler, it was back to normal and my mucus isn't as much of a problem. I'm feeling very confused!

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  • The doctor told me yesterday that mucus "is part of the Inflammatory process of asthma" ... so I'd see a other asthma nurse next time

  • Thanks, no wonder so many of us are confused about our symptoms!

  • In all honesty I was a fairly mild asthmatic as a kid and it went dormant (or the symptoms where that mild I got away with ignoring them) however it has come back to bite me on the bottom

    But the things I was told 6 or so years ago have greatly changed to what I am being told now

    And I think thats the issue with the greatly differing advice that doctors and nurses give because the guidelines change so often

    I remember when I was a kid the doctor telling me coughing isn't a recognised symptom of asthma..... it is now

  • The rate of Mucus Build-up and the the time it takes to come and go is usually linked with infection. Many Respiratory Conditions, including Asthma, seem to arise from a compromised immune system which, among other things, tends to means that those with long term Respiratory Illnesses (like Asthma) are more likely to pick up infections that give rise to muscus that makes breathing more difficult.

    It may simply be that what your nurse told you was true at the time you saw her (if an infection was not present or was just starting) but that things changed when the virus or bacteria gained a grip.

    Using a Rescue Inhaler will typically not only open the airways so you can breath better, but will probably help dislodge some of the mucus so it can be coughed up.

    Note that a downside of steroids (usually taken as a regular preventer where asthma is concerned) is that they can make it easier for an infection to gain a hold. This is one reason why, as far as steroids in pill form are concerned, patients are often given antibiotics at the same time as the steroids, to compensate for the reduction in natural immunity caused by the steroid pills. Problem with antibiotics is, of course, that - if any infection that sneaks in is viral rather than due to bacteria - antibiotics won't help.

    If mucus is a frequent issue, consider an annual flu inoculation and - if illegible / appropriate - a pneumonia innoculation too.

    Note, I'm not a Medic so discus this stuff with your Medical Adviser first.

  • Thanks. My problem is that I have a daily battle with mucus, which doesn't seem to make any difference to my peak flow, (usually around 650). I've had my flu jab and I feel very healthy. My oxygen sats were 97 a few days ago when tested, so my lungs are functioning well. I've been on strong steroids for over 12 months because I started coughing. I coughed so hard that my lung has collapsed twice. The steroids stop the cough almost completely, but mucus is a big problem. The respiratory specialist said I had allergic asthma and all my symptoms were typical, so it was a shock to hear the nurse say that they weren't asthma symptoms. I guess we know very little about asthma, doctors included. I'd rather not be taking medication at all, so it would be nice to get to the bottom of it all!

  • My understanding is that mucous can be a symptom of asthma (which is how I was diagnosed), whether or not there is an associated infection. It seems to be part of the asthma auto-immune response, trying to protect the lung from something which is not really going to do much harm. My mucous seems to be controlled with corticosteroids (though I wish there weren't so many side effects!) but, if yours isn't, then maybe you need an anti-muscarinic; like all asthma medications, there seem to be plenty on the market (but, I suspect, on prescription only)!

  • Thanks, I'm sure mine isn't caused by infection because I've had excessive mucus every day for nearly two years. I read a biology paper a while back that suggested that mucus was a response to what the body perceived as hookworm. It suggested that mucus would prevent the hookworm from completing its life cycle by trapping it. Unfortunately it also suffocates the host! The paper went on to say that the first recorded cases of death by mucus were among groups that had recently stopped being nomadic and had domesticated cats. There's a lot of science linking hookworm with asthma and it makes sense to me.

    I will ask my doctor about anti muscarinics. I've never heard of them.

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