Sticky mucus

Can anyone tell me if they have such trouble trying to shift very sticky mucus that the airways seem to fill with it & no breath seems to get through causing extreme panic. If so please tell me how to cope with this as I am living in fear of it happening whenever I have to cough. I take 2 mucodyn caps 3xdaily also have saline nebs& a flutter device. I have stage 4 emphysema with bronchiectusis & my fev 1 no is 26%. Hope someone can offer some advise as I've had a really bad day of it. Thanks in anticipation.

21 Replies

  • Hi Sue I have COPD and Bronchiectasis and know what you mean. It comes from having Bronchiectasis. It is hard. Exercise as often as you can. Even if it is just sitting and pretending to box. Try a negative pressure breathing either with a Flutter device from your Pulmonary nurse/ clinic or GP. Or get a 2ltr milk carton wash very thorough and a 2 ft of plastic tube (a spare nasal cannula) half fill carton with water and a dash of washing up liquid. Put one end into the carton and other into mouth. Slowly blow as many bubbles as you can. And allow your breath back in though the water. This will set up a negative pressure in the lungs helping to loosen the mucus.

    If you do get to the point that you can't get your breath and your O2 is below 88 even with your oxygen on then ring an Ambo on 999

  • Thanks for reply. Sometimes it seems as if we suffer these things on our own & it helps to know it's not the case.

  • Here is the link on how to make a PEP breathing unit from Great Orman St Hosp. ie milk carton.

    As you say it is very frightening and lonely when first beginning to fight. One reason I wrote a full Profile. I could not have fought without a great many people helping me for all these years. Rib

  • I have these problems

  • Hi nanniesue, I am sorry to hear of your troubles. Are you drinking enough? Could you increase the use of your flutter? It is very important that you do some huffing after using positive pressure devices (such as your flutter) to move the loosened mucus into the main windpipes. Then the mucous can be coughed up more readily. Also you could try mucous suppressing foods/supplements (such as garlic, ginger and trying avoiding dairy which helps some people). Hope you will find some methods (my guess it that you probably need a combination of things) to get some relief. Stay

  • There is one from the health food shopNAC. For deep wall clearing. I'm gonna try that,I'm no good at huffing or whatever,somone might know what I'm talking about,and reply.

  • Hi Colours, do you know if you can take the NAC from health shop as well as carbcystiene capsules and inhalers ?? x

  • Replaces carbocystein still use inhalors, it's a deep mucous clearer.

  • I get benefit from physio sessions . and can do some at home too....postural drainage and she taught my daughter the cupping drum technique over rib areas ... need specialist advice for all this ... ask your doctor. ..mine said I can self refer. I like you very severe and get more relief now from physio. Hope that helps.

  • Many thanks

  • I have had a nasty cough for more than 6 weeks with loads of mucus too.....i find hot drinks help a bit but also really strong menthol sweets which I carry around all the time....don't know whether it is the sucking of the sweet as well that calms you down a bit because I panic terribly, had paramedics out once !! Or course my steroids did dry it up for a bit but then came back with avengence. I also stand bent forward with head upside down and this helps me cough up....not easy to do though if you are out !!

    I think we all understand how frightening this is. Have you considered a psychologist ? My consultant suggested this to me ? Hope you find some help.x

  • If you have a friend or partner, Lie on you side and take a deep breath in as you exhale get your partner to lightly pump your side (Two or Three pushes with a towel under their hands) do that twice and turn over and do it again on the other side. sit up and try the huff or cough a few times it worked for me.

    I was told that if you if you try to quickly tap the lungs that can make them spasm which is not good with obstructive problems.

    Be Well

  • I have these problems nanniesue that is until I went through 6 weeks of respiratory physio and if your bronchiectasis is only in one lung a lot easier talk to your nurse or doctor about postural drainage mine is in the left lung so I go to sleep on my right side when I wake up in a morning I used to do a series of hough's until my own body just cut in naturally and started coughing up the gunge as soon as I was upright but as I say see your nurse as some conditions rule out postural drainage.

  • After suffering really thick sticky mucus for months, Sue, mine eventually cleared up when the Doc changed my ABs to Clarithromycin (just one course) as the Doxycyclin was having no effect. That was 4 months ago and I am still clear of it. Hope you can find one that suits, it is such a relief.

  • Hi Nanniesue, you sound as if you are going through the same fearful symptoms as me at the moment, I have had this problem going on 2 years now and it does get more manageable when you understand what is happening its really scary, I too have had more help from this site than any one in my medical team, I swear if it wasnt for some very special people on this site I would surely be dead by now so my advice to you is try not to panic as this makes things much worse, and the rest of the advice you have been given is sound good advice and it has really helped me, also a good friend introduced me to nelmed which rinses out a lot of the deep gunge scary in the beginning cos you cant believe the amount that comes out, there is no miracle cure for this god awful disease I pray Im still here if they find one , I would wish this on anyone , take care and I hope you manage to cope better. xx

  • Thank you for your help.

  • hi nanna sue I would try dark grape juice if I was you mate it helps me with mine its fairly inexpensive and you can buy it at supermarkets or grocery stores I would try this its better than taking drugs for it only if you are a diabetic I would check out the sugar content in it first \\\\\ i hope this does some good for you please let me know how you get on with it peterr jones queensland Australia PSP SUFFERER

  • Thanks Peter. I've not heard of this & will certainly give it a try.

  • Hi nanniesue

    Had bronchiectasis all my life, along with the thick copious amounts of gunk which goes with it. so along with many others I really empathise with you.

    A few things stood out to me from your post. I assume as you have bronchiectasis you will be seeing a respiratory consultant with a special interest in cf/bronchiectasis. If not, you should be. He/she could and should arrange for you to see a respiratory physiotherapist who would show you different methods of mucus clearance and PEP gadgets, and hopefully you will find what technique suits you best.

    I note you now use the flutter. You may find the Acapella Choice helpful as you can use this in any position (so if you do postural draining or just lay over a few pillows you could use the acapella). I also notice you nebulise saline - you don't say but I imagine it could be isotonic i.e. 0.9%. It might be helpful to ask your consultant about 3%,6% or 7% hypertonic saline. You may find it helpful if your consultant considers it could be of benefit to you.

    Like Julie I have always done postural draining but I do the percussion myself as I can't bear anyone else around when I do my physio. As Julie says this needs to be taught as there is a technique - you need to use cupped floppy hands, but it may not be suitable for you in any event - that's why you need to see a physio. PD with percussion traps the air in your hands and vibrates the gunk - the acapella is supposed to do the same thing internally.

    Hope you find something which will help you get rid of the gunk more easily - not an easy job at the best of times.

    Love cx

  • Thank you for your help.

  • Drink plenty of water, liquids, fresh juices, this helps a lot as peterjones finds. I think we must loose much more liquid in our breath when we cough and struggle to breathe, try an extra couple of pints a day and see for yourself the difference it can make, I do hope it helps, it's a pesky problem that many of us struggle with nanniesue.


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