British Lung Foundation
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Constant phlegm in throat (not lungs?) that's stuck and rattling when i breathe ;(

Hello everyone! i am very sorry for the essay.

For those who want the quick version: long story short - URI Jan 2013 - excessive phlegm (easy to swallow) had URI 4 more times and now have rattling sound in exhalation and its probably phlegm. i need to move this. HELP MEH.

So, i made an account to try and basically treat myself since the Doctors help about as much as the cough medicine.

i have no idea if this is the right community, but it seems the closest to my problem since i don't technically have a 'diagnosis' or as the Doctors say, 'it's normal'. First off, I am aware that unfortunately it's not cut and dry - i also know that i don't have a terrible illness and i am otherwise perfectly well, (sort of), but this is something that at 16, (had it since January last year) i do not want, nor have time for. My A -levels start in September, and this is not helping me prepare.

Basically, i first had a upper respiratory infection back in Jan 2013, where the phlegm was so ridiculously thick and sticky i would choke until somehow (i still don't know how i did it) i coughed it up, i had that for a week, however i was left with constant excessive phlegm, but the consistency of thick saliva, so i could just bring it up and then swallow. again. Ew - but i figured i could deal with it. I then 3 months later around March got it again, and i was so bad we went to a walk in clinic. After a week i was fine, and i had excessive phlegm again. I got it again. To be honest the date has left me but i know i got it again that year, probably august.

At this point i gave up on the Doctor, who told me, as i sit there not fully breathing but i had only 1 hour earlier been screaming and crying outside hacking and re-swallowing this catarrh, that is was 'normal' and there was nothing he could do. I go home, choke, choke some more, literally sleep on this ball of crap for 3 days with crying etc etc, until i beg my mum to either knock me out or take me to the A&E so they can suck it out or something. she went to the pharmacy and got Benylin cough medicine - thankfully (although whether it actually helped i dont know) half an hour later - i choke but manage to cough it this rather large extremely thick yellow almost like glue phlegm - and i recovered after the week.

Yet again, I got it in April this year - i swear i was going to find this cough medicine and drink the bottle i was so scared and tired. I waited it out, it stopped after a week - excessive phlegm. i then got it during my GCSE's but thankfully no thick phlegm - this time it was sticky and sometimes choking but not thick (the first time??) and i waited that out - back to normal excessive phlegm, until now, for the past 2 weeks i have had this sticky phlegm that wont go away, is yellow in the morning and coats my throat, i have bad breath constantly and i have lost weight. ^^ i might add that each time i would refuse to eat so every episode i would lose a stone and not quite put on the same.

I cannot deal with this anymore! i was supposed to go out on holiday with my friend, i can't because i'm constantly coughing, and only recently started eating because i just got to weak. i am trying to have this propolis stuff, and some of that vitabotics to try and replenish my strength. i literally just got some carbocisteine - but i don't have weeks to get rid of this ball of phlegm i can feel in my throat. As i write this, i am swallowing and feeling something in my throat - i might add NOT lungs - i have tried huffing (and whenever i deeply exhale (like a low growl) i can hear this rattling that i am sure if phlegm - its been there since monday and i'm starting to panic)

For gods sake will somebody tell me how to at least shift this! i am positively trembling at the though of coughing whatever it is i can hear on my voice box up, but if i can get rid of this i can at least deal with excessive saliva! i have tried eucalyptus oil, inhaling steam, menthol, propolis, apple cider vinegar, water, huffing, benylin, vicks, i even got a nasal spray that did nothing and im pretty sure i have post-natal drip too. im considering Silent reflux - my mum has acid reflux. i dont think it's asthma, although recently i got an inhaler, because i had to some chest tightness but it does not get worse with exercise and i am only getting this once or twice in a week or often a month (before all this i would sometimes be sitting and get this random short of breath thing but then it would go so ??? )

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41 Replies

Hi Danielle

I had sinusitis earlier this year which resulted in post nasal drip and lots of phlegm at the back of my throat. (This was different from the chest phlegm I used to get while still smoking.)

I was eventually prescribed a steroid nasal spray. ( think it was called beconaise ) The doctor warned that it could take a number of weeks before it had any effect. She was right . It actually took 6-8 weeks before gradually starting to get better. Probably 10-12 wees before fully clear.

Notice you tried a nasal spray at one stage but wonder if you perhaps didn't persevere long enough.

Personally I didn't have much faith in the nasal spray when first prescribed but was proved wrong ! !(Not often I admit that )

I find pharmacists to be a wealth of information about various drugs and their effects . Hope that you will be able to find a solution.

Cheers Coastal .


Hi coastal, I honestly didn't think anyone would answer tbh! Yay, thanks :3 I had the nasal spray about a month ago in the week off for the GCSE's, because the useless doctor (my whole family steers clear normally ) said everything was anxiety, and her 'daughter had this last week' ( a cold I might add,). Im sure. Anywwy, the spray was flucticasone propionate and I found it cleared my nose I sure, but the throat had no benefit at all, and u used it for the full course it could go - about 4 weekend I was actually going to ask for a repeat to try and see? If I'm honest I thought she gave it Me to make me leave. She didn't even answer the phlegm question just focused on anxiety and blamed that. But Thanks I'mnot giving up on it yet :)

I wasn't told that it took that sort of time to clear sinusitis! Does anyone know if there is an alternative form of Beconaise as I found the spray gave me an extremely sore throat!

Do you use a saline pump / kettle 3 to 5 times a day? Sinus issues at night allow phlegm to go down the throat and into the lungs. Doesn't take much added mucus to give one major comfort issues.

I know tell me about it - I am not sure about this saline pump? Never heard of it, I'm afraid I'm literally blind in this everything I've done has been of me and my mums input. Apart from inhaler/pray. :(

Look up Neilmed, helps me

Hi danielle, this does sound like it could be silent reflux. I have this and your description of gluey phlegm and choking is very familiar. You mention having been given an inhaler for tightness of chest. In the online research I've done, Ive read that with one in ten asthma diagnoses, the symptoms are actually due to silent reflux, i.e. the asthma is mistakenly the primary diagnosis. The ball of mucus you get sounds like what they call "globus", another symptom of silent reflux. If it is silent reflux, the irony is that the phlegm is thought by many medics to be a protective mechanism for your throat. I use huffing, steam inhalations, and medication.

Stress makes reflux worse and you mention it came back when doing your GCSEs.

If you could manage to do 5 minutes meditation each day, that has helped some people de-stress.

Many people including myself use a wedge pillow to sleep on - this means that gravity helps keep stomach contents in the stomach. These cost around £70-80 online, a ludicrous amount to charge for what is essentially a bit of foam sponge. A sponge supplier where i live (Kent) charges £40 for the same thing. I find this very helpful.

You could try cutting out mucus forming foods - milk, wheat. And foods which loosen the valve at the top of your stomach - wine/alcohol, chocolate :( spicy foods, raw onions. The triggers are very individual so keeping a food diary can help. Finding a naturopath would help with a holistic approach, much based on food exclusions.

Reflux can be acid or bile. Many people chew gum after eating, this keeps the saliva going and helps wash down anything which is refluxing into the oesophagus.

Your mum probably knows a lot about reflux medications though if you can avoid them it would be best. It's rubbish for your GP to say this is normal, or that "nothing can be done". This is not a tolerable way to live your life and I would ask your doctor for a referral to an ENT consultant. If he won't do this, see if you can change your GP, or say you want a second opinion, which you are entitled to.

There is an oesophageal patients community here too. If you click on communities you should find it.

Don't be fobbed off by your GP - you are entitled to help for this.

Very best of luck :)


Hi! Thanks for the detailed information - although I don't have the wedge pillow I do sleep raised and have done now since I had this problem due to anxiety of not being able to sleep. It's a habit now but I find it helps! I am a stubborn person so as soon as I get this increased phlegm I don't eat. It might sound dramatic and unhealthy but I panic quite easily and so I just dont bother - I notice no difference ? Recently I have eaten on this because it was going on a week and mum wasn't having it. :/ I can just about eat salmon and potatoes but it's better than nothing I say!

on another note- i forgot to mention earlier ^^ We ask every time ( i have now seen 5 different doctors) to go to an ENT, but because my lungs are clear, they say EVERY TIME,' if i thought there was something wrong i'd send her' and off we go - this absolutely terrible doctor who does nothing for anyone with any condition (simply citing ' her daughter had this last week' or 'it will pass' ) saw me and we avoid her at best, we knew we were better off not going but meh, she said to me ' my daughter had this last week its normal to have this' and she LAUGHED and SMILED as she says this to me, actually smiling as if I'm saying I'm pooping rainbows or something????? i just looked at her and thought 'you are delusional' i swear she is. As a mother, if her child has this, she would be ringing up the ENT, every reflux specialist and respiratory doctor there was???? mental. Anyway, how she still works there is a mystery but unless your leg's hanging off i doubt she'd help anyone (know idea why) but thanks again!!!


Hmm, ENT is a helpful tool as they diagnosed me with the post nasal drip which is a huge issue for me.

If it is at all possible try to see a private one.

90% of ENT's are quacks, at least in the US anyway. One of them pressures me to get my tonsils removed, and writes a script for Omeprazol. I get a second opinion with another ENT, who writes a script for Omeprazol. I get a third opinion at another ENT, who wrote a script for omeprazol. I go to a fourth ENT, who said there is absolutely not even the slightest reason to get my tonsils removed, with no signs of esophageal irritation or inflammation due to acid reflux. I went to visit my friend in Germany for a month, where i visited the ENT. This doctor also said there is no reason to get a tonsillectomy and there is no reason for Omeprazol. Doctors in the US are like sharks. They will whip you up into believing you need to take omeprazol and nasal sprays, and surgeries.

Hi Danielle, I think you should go back to a Doctor, not necessarily the one you've already seen and ask for a referral to a Lung Defence Clinic or similar (they are called different things in different places). In the meantime try this technique to clear your throat - you need to learn one or two things first - instead of breathing to fill your lungs, fill your diaphragm and two, learn to huff, i.e. a sharp breath out from the throat; now for the technique:

1. take 3 diaphragm breaths followed by 2 proper deep breaths;

2. take 3 more diaphragm breaths followed by a little huff;

3. take 3 more diaphragm breaths followed by a bit deeper huff;

4. take 3 more diaphragm breaths followed by a proper cough and hey presto you should clear your throat.

Hope this helps but make sure you see a GP and get the help you need.

Good luck. Take care Lizzy.


Hi thanks for this, as soon as i've done helping with the cleaning of my terribly (un)messy room I'll be huffing My lungs out ;P thanks everyone!

Hi Skinnylizzy

In step 1 you mention 3 diaphragm breaths and 2 proper deep breaths, could you tell me the difference? I thought diaphragm breaths were deep breaths?

Thank you

Hi Jackdup, sorry I didn't explain this very clearly, I mean take two deep breaths using your lungs (to give you something to 'huff' with). I learned this technique at pulmonary rehab. it's official title is The Active Cycle of Breathing (A.C.B.T.). I find it works every time. If you need it I hope you find it helpful. Good Luck. Take care, Lizzy.

Thanks Lizzy

I haven't been to PR so might ask some questions that may seem obvious to some. Is there a difference between diaphragm breathing and taking a deep breath?

Maybe I should ask if you can take a deep breath without using your diaphragm?

I believe I read somewhere we should always be breathing using our diaphragm but again would appreciate hearing from you as you have had training and I never have so would love to learn as much as I can about proper breathing techniques.

Thanks again

Hi again jackdup, my you do ask some searching questions for a Sunday morning - I am not an authority on breathing just trying to pass on what I have learned in order to help others, I hope.

Now deep breathing, you know when you are at the seaside and you take some deep breaths and smell the seaside smell, well you usually do it using your lungs ( and let out a big sigh afterwards!). Now if you put your hands either side on your ribs you would feel your lungs expand and see your chest rise.

For diaphragm breathing you breathe straight down into your diaphragm - if you put one hand just below your breastbone and the other on your ribs whilst doing this you will feel your diaphragm rise and fall but your chest will not move. I've been told that this way of breathing will just come naturally and you will do it all the time but I'm afraid it doesn't with me, I have to concentrate on it.

To find out more information about anything to do with your chest why not ring the BLF Helpline by clicking on the red balloon at the top of the page. They have a lot of helpful information leaflets as well as a nurses at the end of the line to answer any questions.

Hope this is helpful Jack. Good luck. Take care, Lizzy.

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Thanks so much for the reply, and not trying to put you on the spot, just appreciated the advise you offered to others, and thought I would ask for a little more detailed information.

I am not located in your area of the world so some of the options that are available to those in your area are not available to me so appreciate the information you have provided.

Thanks again

Thanks Jack, happy to help, hopefully. Are you in a Breathe Easy Group, is there one in your area? You might find it helpful if so. Take care, Lizzy.

No there is no Breathe Easy Group here nor any other support group that I am aware of. I know there a lot or support groups for other illnesses but for COPD.

Thanks again


Hi Danielle, I could feel the annoyance rising in me that you should be treated in this way. Doctors do get it wrong and sometimes they just won't admit to not knowing-ego and all that. I was once diagnosed by a hospital consultant as suffering from asthma. I 'knew' I hadn't and demanded another doctor. You are entitled to do that and I think in your case you should. You have a right to change your doctor.

Although I do not suffer from the same cause as you, I have IPF, I experience exactly what you describe and was given carbocisteine for the mucous and an antibiotic for the balls of very coloured stuff that I struggled to get up out of my throat. The antibiotic worked. I am not so sure about the carbocisteine, the jury is still out, and the build up of mucous roughly over 4 day periods went on and was really horrible resulting in 'out of hours' doctor and paramedics callout in the middle of the night.

I say was because I had a look at what goes on in the throat and I found the mucous is produced by cells that line the throat and nasal passages and which, when working properly, are a bit like oil to an engine. When things go wrong and they step up into overdrive we get flooded with mucous that the body can't get rid of in the normal way-which is to send it down to the stomach and out along with the rest of the rubbish. So I thought I would try something really simple. Rather than fight it I help it on its way! When I feel the rise of the mucous I drink water, swilling it around my mouth and throat to absorb the mucour and swallowing-repeating several times, until it feels a bit better. It is simple but amazingly it works for me and it ain't going to do you any harm. I think O2Trees has given you some good advice.


Hi, right now i have just got some carbocisteine - i am banking on this working but apparently it takes weeks? i'll have choked to death by then! oh well. Water is my savior during those points till i get enough oxygen ;P

Thanks for the reply, and i know the doctors just seem to gloss over mucus, it's as if as soon as you mention it they're just ''oh not again, you have a cold'' and every time they just say nothing we can do. It's now a year a half later and they're still saying it??! we were trying to get an ENT, but they say, and i quote ''nice try but if i thought there was something wrong i'd send her'' noooo I'm fine! that's why I'm at the doctors. XD unfortunately as well each time i have seen these doctors i saw a different one every time - i haven't actually seen the same one twice in the 5 appointments I've had since January last year. Sad times.

The receptionists are terrible too! they're so rude - it's no my fault I'm ill! My God, it's like im asking for their lungs?? hehe, anyway, doctors appointment Monday to see if i have asthma (I'm sure i would've collapsed by now if i had knowing my luck) and next Thursday i have an appointment with the 6th doctor (i haven't seen him at all yet) and he's apparently the only good one and my friend has many illnesses and she said get him he'll refer you, and since I'm certain i am not living with this for the next 50 years or so help me I am getting this sorted! I'm just glad that i had 15 years free on this - better than nothing right? at least i grew up okay.

At 16, I don't want to drink, I don't party, I do my work and I've worked hard for these GCSE's, i want to actually use them! XD it seems everyone who doesn't deserve illnesses get them right? i suppose we all are in the same boat so we can struggle through this together. I have a very good family unit and understanding friends around me so I'm one of the lucky ones - I'm counting my blessings! If i ever get rid of this I am going to buy presents for everyone! ;P I hope you all have some success somewhere, and at least i have you guys if i have to vent! We are only human :) Until the doctors!! Thanks x

p.s apologies for the emoticons I am quite the expressive person, facially and also with many hand signals :3 there i go again !! and being repressed through this mucus has sent me into overdrive! my hands are itching to put another! I either laugh through this time or i cry so laugh it is! thanks everyone again, (((hugs)))


I feel you man ! Im going through this now . How r u feeling now ? Any suggestion for me ?

stir 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey into 8 oz of hot water and sip

Hi Danielle,

Ask for a CT scan of your windpipe / trachea. I had the same symptoms, my chest & lungs were also clear but I happened to see a different Dr who noticed a whistling / rattling sound from me when I spoke or breathed.

hi dusty, i have a doctors appointment this Thursday, and this rattlings still there which is concerning more and more, and its getting worse if anything, its phlegm im 99% sure but why its not moving even as i eat food and drink i cannot fathom. It's irritating to say the least. This doctor is apparently the only decent one in the surgery and apparently refers people, so i will ensure he gets the rattling experience as well! Did you have CT scan - did it show anything???? Thanks, Danielle

I am glad you are seeing a different Dr, In my experience I was so fed up saying it is stuff in my throat I can't get up. I had actually stopped saying it because nobody gave any explanation. Does your cough sound normal, I can only describe mine as a bark. I had the CT scan & have had laser treatment & felt back to normal straight after it. Hope the Dr listens to you, even if you could get him to sound your throat area if he won't send you for a scan.

my cough generally sounds clear, but i am bringing phlegm up, im often clearing my throat to bring it up as i find coughing irritates it, it could be described at a bark, but it varies to be honest. from all 5 different doctors i've seen, every one gloss over it, ignore it, and say it's normal, or its a viral infection. Or, get this, i need to come with the symptoms, did she miss the part where i said i had it all the time?? sigh. i will look into this though. what exactly did this laser treatment entail???? i would have never considered this in any way?

Hi Danielle, I hope you got on ok at Dr appt. The laser treatment was no problem, they put you to sleep because it is a brontiscope through your mouth with a laser attached. I had a bit of a sore throat after it but by the next day it had gone. I was looking for vape oil & couldn't believe when I came across your post, I searched from November till March on the internet with the same symptoms as you & found nothing. From what you have said it sounds exactly like me with a polyp on my windpipe. I forgot to say they were treating me for COPD until that Dr sent me for CT scan. The only different thing was your cough not always being a bark.

hi, the doctors appointment was the best I've had; he explained everything, medically as well, and i understood it too so he clearly is very good at his job. He said my nose was inflamed, and so since the throat has similar skin cells there it probably it there as well, he gave me a steroid nasal spray to use, and i think its working, officially he said he would diagnose it as persistent rhinitis, whether that right is a working progress he said, he took me off carbocisteine said he didn't want me on it and that it would not be that helpful in my case, and if the nasal spray doesn't work i have some antihistamines to take, then if that fails he mentioned something about an auto immune thing? we'll see how it goes, thanks everyone for your input!

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Sinuses are the issue, use a saline pump to rinse them out through your nose.

Hello,I have a similar problem with trouble hacking mucus and chronic sinus issues. I heard that marshmallow root is an excellent expectorant. You can purchase it as a loose tea or tea bags or tincture. I purchased it as a loose tea. I just got the shipment today and am looking forward to trying it. The flavor I read ,is similar to cinnamon so it should be a real treat. It is also good for urinary tract problems. I am a big fan of natural remedies. I hope this helps!

Google "constant phlegm in throat" and you'll find an entry up top for a condition known as LPR. Or google LPR. I think this is what I might have. Mostly at night when I'm relaxing ... but I just started researching and experimenting. First order of business: Start taking either tums or DGL (De - something or other - licorice). Hope this gets you on the right track.

Same probblem for months and no answers ... it feels like wasting my money just to get relief for 3 or 4 dayz . My doctor gave me a seretide accuhaler to prevent future asthama . He said that i have allergic airways without no tests .so i dout i have allergic airways . Its killing me . Due to consistent throat clearing im now having chest tighness.Any help any one plz ?

Hi all , I'm really sorry to tell everyone but I've had this problem for thirty odd years now and there's now cure for it and I've tried everything I can get my hands on . The doc says that it's a nasal drip but he can't cure it , I've been going to the doc with this since my teens and it's only in the last couple of years that I was told it's a drip . The doc doesn't like to keep people on the steroid nasal spray that did actually work for me a bit so as I said there's no cure . I have it really bad at the minute and it's really hard to get air in to breathe properly and I'm always yawning my partner keep saying just breath through your nose , but it doesn't work that easily . I have to spit it out all day everyday and I feel like a old granny with smokers phlegm . I also have to exercise regularly or I can't breathe at all so I ride a bike like blue blazes everywhere and spit none stop in the process . I'm trying to let you all see the funny side ,but it really is a pain in the ass .

Hi Danielle it's your right to request a referral to a consultant and your GP doesn't have the right to stop you. I recently told my GP I wanted a chest x-ray and wouldn't be put off because your symptoms are just like mine. I have also told my GP I want a consultant referral in the past, it's your rights and they cannot refuse you

Hi danielle I have also been going thru this for 2 years and haven't been able to find anything that helps but burping but I have got some answers you may want to see neuro and get an mri done bc I found out the cause of mine is a cyst is my sinus canal causing me to have constant post nasal drip so everytime I get sick I have to tell my drs it's not strep throat bc I always have post nasal drip from a cyst I also have noticed since having this issue when I get sick the symptoms are 10x worse and last longer especially in my chest I also realized when I started experiencing these issues is when I took musinex dm during a cold and every since then is when I have had issues I didn't take maybe more than 3 but still caused me to have a cyst in my sinus canal I hope u get answers soon but I would deff look into getting ur sinus canal checked

Just come across this. For the past 8 months I've had a chronic cough. I believe it's triggered by post nasal drip, I'm going for a CT scan on my sinuses to try and diagnose it properly. I've lost my sense of smell although it comes and goes. Only recently have I been getting the rattling in my throat when I breathe and find it hard to clear. To the OP, did you ever get sorted?

Hi Will and welcome to the forum. This is a 3 year old post. To find more recent ones try here:

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I have had this for a year and am almost crazy. Can't cough it up or get it down. I need my life back.

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