My husband has emphysema and doesn't cough or seem to have much mucus. Does massaging the back help break it up?

My husband has had a flare since October. He has almost no coughing and never has coughed up mucus. He has emphysema . He's been on steroids almost nonstop since this started. And antibiotics off and on. We thought he was a getting a little better. But his oxygen level last night was 69 when he got into bed. It didn't stay there long . And did go up to 92. he is on oxygen 24/7 and was on 4.5 liters when this happened. It usually goes down to high 70's and works it way up. Sorry I'm so long winded. What I wanted to know if any of you have tried the massager on your back to help break up mucus? He has had a chest x-ray , blood work and a CT scan in the last three weeks. He tries to make himself cough but he usually doesn't cough up anything. We don't know if with emphysema you are to make yourself cough. he has the flutter thing. he doesn't really cough after using that.

15 Replies

  • hi I have emphysema I never bring anything up ,or cough much I find the thing that makes me cough is having a shower if I have an infection I might bring a little up but nothing worth talking about , never used a massager on back so cant help there ,

  • He doesn't cough with a shower. It wears him out. Even with oxygen up to 8 and sitting in a chair while he is showering.

  • Hi Jan, fraid I can't answer your question about the massager. Have you seen results of your husband's tests yet? The CT scan will show if there is mucus present, and the extent of damage in his lungs. I was shown mine on the computer screen by my consultant when he was explaining a new bronchiectasis dx and you could see the mucus lying there in the airways even though I don't experience having any.

    One way of getting mucus up is to do the active cycle of breathing - there are youtubes about this so take a look. I also do steam inhalations which helps though not everyone can tolerate them.

    Maybe your husband needs a review of his oxygen use. I wouldn't worry too much about the 69% if it was only once as oximeters can do weird things. If it keeps happening then its definitely significant. What is happening most of the time is important and high 70s is too low.

    If his flare-up isn't resolving, then maybe he needs a change of AB (hard though to know what to if he isn't bringing up mucus to do a sample), or stronger for longer of the one he's been taking. When you say he's been on ABs "off and on" and not got better, maybe the doctor's approach is too scattergun. I hope you can both get something sorted, good luck :)

  • Thank you!

    I have learned more from reading posts here than from the pulmonologist or the GP. This all started 2 1/2 years ago . He was in the hospital for something not related. He had a really bad infection in his lungs and ended up staying in the hospital for 22 days. They had a hard time finding it. He came home on oxygen 24/7. And with emphysema.

  • I was wrong he didn't have ct scan. Only an xray

  • Sounds like a ct scan might be useful Jan - maybe he could ask his doctor about that.

  • Yes for some reason I thought he had one

  • Hi

    Emphysema is damage to the Aveoli which is where the gas exchange takes place, oxygen in carbon dioxide out. With resulting air trapping.

    The condition is not consistent with excessive mucus.

    Although you can have a element of both.

    Excessive mucus is more consistent with bronchitis

    I have severe emphysema with a mild bronchi, which is more of a annoyance, simple because devices like the flutter have little impact, drinking fluids and keeping mobile as more of a impact, likewise when I do my exercise I am more productive.

    Members who are more bronchi can be given medication to help thin mucus not sure if this would be useful, you would have to speak to your GP

  • Thank you! He has been given several medications to break something up. Doesn't seem to be doing anything useful.

  • That's right Stone - but I was assuming since Jan's husband was given antibiotics that he had a chest infection, therefore also assuming he had mucus from that rather than the emphysema.

  • The GP is saying he doesn't have an infection and from what I read only half of the flares are caused by one. He did give him an antibiotic with two different ones that didn't seem to cure him. And has been on steroids pretty much non stop since October.

    What do other people do other than an antibiotic and a steroid while a flare is goin on???

    We think it is a flare because he got so much worse all at once in October.

    This is the fourth one this year. The first two only lasted a week and he coughed up a bunch of nasty looking mucus and he was much better after that. the second one lasted longer maybe 3 weeks and he never did cough anything up. He just slowly got better. All three times he was on steroids and antibiotics.

  • Hi

    Not all flare ups are caused by infections.

    All my flare ups, including two hospital admissions, one in ICU, plus one AE visit. Where classed as non infection. Caused by triggers twice,and anxiety once.

    Triggers for me are air fresheners, aerosol sprays, and some household products.

  • What did they do for you if it wasn't an infection?

    The last time a few weeks ago when we saw the GP he said he would put my husband In the hospital except there was so much flu going around he would probably catch something.

  • Hi

    The first one the most serious, I was given steroid injections x three, Salbutamol nebuliser x five

    Then moved on ward for three days for monitoring with Salbutamol nebuliser three times a day.

    Plus usual test, x-rays ecg, and ABG.

    Discharge with 5 day course of steroids

    Second one in AE no treatment sent home with Antibiotics never used.

    Third time nebuliser three times a day plus usual test kept in for three days

    Discharge with 5 day course of steroids.

    I now take Lorazepam for aniexty, and avoid known triggers like the plague, been clear for over 12 months,

  • Thank you

You may also like...