British Lung Foundation

Hard mucus caught in windpipe after getting sinus infection. I'm scared I'm going to suffocate. Doctor says I'm overreacting. What now? HELP

I've always had sinus and allergy problems, but the last few years have been the worst! I live in central South Carolina which is known for bad allergies. When I met my hubbie, we moved to Arizona for 14 months. I missed home so much and we decided to move back. Three months after our move back, I developed a sinus infection. It lasted weeks and I started to have problems breathing. When I went to the doctor, I was diagnosed with strep throut and given a antibiotic. After a few more weeks of misery, I started having major issues breathing. Then I started having large pieces of bloody mucus getting stuck in my windpipe and it was a major battle to finally cough it up - especially when I couldn't breathe in the process. This lasted for weeks! I went back to the Doctor and nothing was done. After changing doctors, I was recommended to an ENT. I was too scared to go.

We decided to move to Eastern Kentucky during that year because I was scared of getting slick so much. I never got sick there. But, when we visited my family in South Carolina, I got sick every time. My husband got a job opportunity in Arizona that he could not refuse, so we moved back within seven months of moving to KY.

My daughter in South Carolina was pregnant and begged me to be at the birth, so I hesitantly decided to go. Within the day of arrival, I was extremely ill with an infection and the same hard, bloody mucus that constantly covered my windpipe/throat where I could not breathe! So, I had to fight to breath and get rid of that Hard mucus. I couldn't sleep or eat. I ended coming home early and missed my first grandson's birth! I drove, so I had to fight that sickness for three days with my Three year old son. O my trip back, I started having issues with smells in rooms. I bought a hotel room one night, but couldn't stay in it and left within 15 minutes of coming in the door. It took me many weeks to get over that infection. The whole time, my mental state was on edge.

Thinking I was safe in Arizona, I moved on with life. I found a job and got back into the work force after staying home for five years. Within two months of starting work, I got sick I again! I was diagnosed with bronchitis. It took multiple weeks to get back to normal.

Four months ago, my husband had a cancer scare. We had to have family support, so guess where we moved to? Yea, South Carolina. I had resporatory issues all the way back to South Carolina. When I got here, I was getting sick. I dosed up on oil of oregano pills and luckily got over it quick. However, two weeks ago, I started getting a scratchy throat. I am now in the same boat. I am getting stuff stuck in my throat. This hard mucus seems to be smaller and has no blood in it. But, it blocks my air flow. I don't know what to do! I'm going to a doctor tomorrow (someone who treated me for many year before she left medicine after breast cancer, but now came back fulltime). I hope and pray she will help me figure this out. I have heard many people complain about ENT doctors. I don't know what to do if she recommends I go to one. Does anyone have suggestions? Has anyone had this. If so, what is it and how do I go about fixing it?

22 Replies

Hello Shells, so sorry to hear of your distressing health problems and your doctor who was not helpful. I hope that the doctor you will be seeing can shed some light on your concerns and actually offer help and a solution.

Do let us know how you get on. Xxxxx


Thanks, Ms. Sassy! I will.


Try sinus rinses and drinking plenty of water. Using a NetiPot, or Saline Spray. I searched the Communities to see if there are any which may also help, as they may know more about the allergies in the different American States. I found USAllergies, USAsthma, and COPDfriends.

I have not had what you describe, sounds awful, and you are very brave. Hope you find more answers and that the doc is able to sort you out.


This time I've tried Apple cider vinegar with lemon and organic honey, garlic, oil of oregano, Bromelain, olive leave pills and Colloidal Silver, Clear Lungs, and a great tea called Throat Coat. All these have made this more tolerable, but I'm not sure if I waited too long to use them. I will check out the sites you recommended. I thank you so much for reseaching for me. That was amazing of you!!


Hi Shells, how horrible that you have been going through this for so long. I really think that it is time that you saw the ENT specialist. They are not going to do anything drastic to you on your first visit but you will get their opinion and you never know, they may be able to give you a simple treatment to help you. You will still be in charge of deciding what you accept to do and it must be better than going on like this.

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Thanks, StillStanding! I have been up all night with a dryness in my head and chest. I can feel a rattling in my right lung. I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. I get to where I can't breath from the stuff in my throat. I take breathing treatments and it gets better. I have coughed up some things from my throat tonight. The mucus is not as big as the first few times I got sick. The symptoms are a little different this time. I still believe some of these home remedies are why the mucus in my throat is smaller. But, I wonder if I have pnemonia or a bad case of bronchitis. All I know is that I'm very miserable. I don't want this sickness anymore!


No Shells you don't need it. If all of these home remedies worked to cure our various conditions there would be nobody on this site. They simply alleviate the symptoms sometimes. Please get yourself some proper medical help and good luck.


That makes sense, but so does the fact That we do have natural remedies and natural ways to boost our immune system so we can fight these illnesses. I will probably see an ENT this time, but I'm not sure if I'm gonna like what they suggest. I've given this situation to God to,talk care of. I can't do it anymore. I,know He can!!


Hi Shells

It sounds like the same problem I had for a long time some years ago. I think it's because of your sinus infection and the mucus draining down the back of your throat and drying there, especially when you're sleeping with your mouth open. It used to make me gag. When I bought a Neti pot it made an enormous difference and I still use it regularly although not as often.

I also taught myself to nose breathe. When I went to bed I'd tape my mouth loosely using microporous tape. A bit extreme but it worked. Of course you won't be able to do it if your sinuses are blocked.

Hope this helps.

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Thanks, Moodygirl! Did you use your Neti pot only during your sinus infe tion or do you use it all the time?


I use it if I start to feel more "snotty" than usual. It does leave your sinuses feeling clean. Sometimes I add manuka honey; sometimes Johnsons Baby Shampoo which is supposed to kill off pseudomonas.

I have pseudomonas in my lungs although I haven't resorted to nebulising with it! Maybe one step too far 😂.

Using a Neti pot may sound a bit scary but it's absolutely fine. If you get the correct temperature you can barely feel it running through one nostril and out of the other.

I went on to the next step, details of which I've copied and pasted below.


The second stage of Jala Neti is actually called sinus bellowing. It’s a more advanced and powerful practice; hence one should first master the simpler version of Stage 1. Ideally, this stage of Neti should be supervised by a teacher on your first few attempts, however many people manage to succeed unaided.

First one pot of water is done as per Stage 1 to clear out the frontal nasal passages, and then a second pot is done in this more advanced way. In this case, it is not necessary to dry the nose fully between Stages 1 and 2. A few gentle blows out into the sink is satisfactory before refilling the net pot.

On the second pot – while the water is running through from one nostril to the other – it is gently sniffed backwards and spat out of the mouth. The easiest way is to draw one slow, long inhalation through the nose to “bubble” the water as it goes through. Do not do quick sharp snorts or you may send water up the ear tubes and sinuses. On the exhalation, that water is spat out the mouth. One or two slow sniffs will make half a pot disappear quickly! Repeat on the other side for several slow sniffs to drain the pot. A third pot may be done to repeat Stage 2 if desired.

Although not dangerous, one should try not to swallow any water when sniffing backwards.

Extra care must be taken to dry the nose properly after Stage 2, as more water floods the nasal passages and may cause irritation for some time if not completely dried out. Repeat the full drying process as many times as it takes.

This stage of Neti works more on clearing out the posterior sinus passages which Stage 1 does not reach and is even more effective than Stage 1 for post nasal drip, sinusitis, coughs and throat problems.


I hope this helps. There are YouTube videos which you could look at too. Personally it's been a godsend for me. Dried mucus stuck at the back of my throat was making my life a misery.

I would also advise mouth breathing too if you can.

Good luck!


Thanks, Moodygirl! This is a big help!



I can tentatively give you this advice which might work. I was advised by the physiotherapist to try to sleep with my head higher up. In fact, she gave me a back rest. It’s OK to put pillows on top. That means that the body is more upright and the secretions don’t choke me. Mind you, as Moodygirl said, the sinus might pour the mucus down your throat pipe. In that case, perhaps you could try to clear it, indeed with the Neti pot, but also with Active Cycle of Breathing Technique. Here is a YouTube video:

If you have the possibility of having it explained by a respiratory nurse or a physiotherapist it would be good. Just see how it goes. Do it gently not to get dizzy. Don’t force, being gentle is more productive.

Hope this helps, Mic

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I want to thank you for all your advice, Mic. I just don't know how this active cycle of breathing is gonna help with hard mucus lodged in my throat. I can see how this helps with the lungs. I tried it and it did help me with my lungs. But it did not help with my throat.

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I was looking quite forward to seeing my doctor this morning. I wanted to tell her my story from the beginning. Unfortunately, she rushed me through. Then decided to listen to my chest. Her diagnosis was sinus infection and bronchitis in right lung. She gave me a nebulizer treatment and rechecked my breathing. I am now taking a 5 day sterroid and a strong antibiotic for ten days.

The hardest part of the whole doctor's visit was her lack of understanding and believing that I have hard mucus caught in my throat that is blocking my breathing and making me gag.

Mind you, I haven't gotten one whole nights rest in 10 days! i refuse to sleep because I'm scared! Tonight I decided to try to relax and, even if I could not sleep, at least try to be at peace. I deserve at least that, right? It was an amazingly wonderful two hours! I smiled and thought good things. I meditated on Bible verses and thanked God for this euphoric moment. But, then it happened. I finally went to sleep and a major pain and burning sinsation entered my throat! I jump off the recliner and ran to the bathroom with my finger on my throat. It was bad! I don't know what happened or why. I just know it was aweful. It's almost three am here and I just got finished with a nebulizer treatment and gargalling salt water.

At this point, I am asking all of you to pray for me. I know God has a reason for allowing me to have this sickness, so I give it to Him. Thanks for all your help and encouragement. I don't know what I would've done without you all!


Shells, I m sorry you had a bad experience with the doctor and later on during that night sleep and sore throat.

It might be reflux from the stomach. That's why sleeping with a back rest seems to help people with that sort of condition.

About the doctor, I think you could ask to be referred to a specialist for the lungs, or even a pulmonary nurse because they are really down to earth ( here at lest in England). I don't know your system int he US,but do as best as you can to find a pulmonary consultant specialist and a pulmonary nurse. You must know how to get a referral, even from that bad doctor . Insist on the fact that what she has given didn't help; you need more than just a listen to your chest. YOu may need to give a sputum sample, you need to emphasize that you might have a reflux from the stomach - stomach acidity hurts a lot when it comes up in the gullet. is your sore throiat also caused by a fungal infection. All these and more can be considered by a specialist nurse and specialist consultant. I hope you can find help. Mic


This is definitely sinus issues. My insurance doesn't need a referral. I'm gonna call today and make an appointment with an ENT. Since the problem lies in my throat, that is my best bet.

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Best of luck and wishes of good health for yu Shells,



Well, everyone, I slept for more than two hours last night. I haven't slept that good in over a week! Also, after gargling with salt water numerous times last night, I finally work up and coughed up a big piece mucus! It's the biggest so far. I used the neti pot right after to clear my mucus. I've decided to call an ENT in order to find the best way to handle this from here. Thanks again for your comments and well wishes! I've learned a lot from you all!!



Just joined the site today.

Hi hon, yes I have had this - the stuck mucous so that I absolutely cannot breathe terror episodes. Scary beyond words because I feel like it's never going to 'unstick' and I can neither breathe in nor breathe out.

I don't have a cure, but I thought it best to keep the mucous as thin/fluid as possible. Not positive I'm doing that correctly, but this is what I'm doing:

I increased my water intake, but it's more like I'm sipping water all throughout the day. So I'm not overhydrating, but I'm keeping the water flow low but constant.

I got off all processed foods. All. I cook everything now, and I'm by far any type of chef.

The worse things for mucous according to Ayurveda and also Chinese Medicine are dry, crunchy, salty snacks - your chips of every kind, crackers, etc.

No sugar. (No chocolate(has dairy), no cookies, hard candies, cake). My taste buds changed after a few weeks off all junk foods. It's amazing!

Eat seasonal local fruit. I am doing an apple daily, and blueberries.

Eating seasonally in general.

The majority of my meals consist of water based foods - meaning steamed vegetables, plus a protein or starch. Fruits, vegetables, protein, plant based starch/carb, healthy fats, soup broth, etc. I love to eat bean soups (green split pea, yellow split pea, lentil, mung dahl, etc.)

I make steamed vegetables the bulk of my meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner) after I eat a fruit or a green juice.

A green juice every other day right now. Celery, cucumber, carrot, romaine, etc. and I do an ounce or two of beets for the gallbladder.

I'm trying to cleanse the colon by getting everything bad out of the diet and trying to get in everything good.

I read that the healthy foods are good for the liver, too.

I also nebulize now. Saline solution prescribed by my pulmonologist.

I didn't read the 19 replies as of today, so I don't know if this is repeated information. I just went straight to typing when I found someone that also suffered from this.

Best of health to you and yours,

Trish in NY

Update: I was able to read the replies after not being able to post due to my original username. Fun times.

I see you are a fellow user of supportive natural remedies. You're right, we're all different, so what might work for one might now work for anyone else. I research an item thoroughly before I consider trying it. As for now, I'm just using foods and hydration to support my body. Pulmonologist for hospital stays(for hemoptysis and pneumonia, too many times), and antibiotics as prescribed. But I'm always researching.



I too have the awful mucus in throat and have done this last thirty some years. I too have many allergies and my body must rattle with all the medications l take.

A few things that help me, although does not get rid of it are:

Use a sinus rinse twice daily, l use Neilmed. My sinuses are much better and the post drip does not seem as bad

I change my antihistamine after talking to someone on this forum. Had been on cetrizine for the thirty years, three a day, 365. I am now on Fexofenadine and it has helped with the sinuses too.

I have been taught airway clearance technique by a physio

I drink loads of water

I don't drink tea or coffee as they are diuretics

I do still have the blocked feeling but now it is no longer blood streaked and l can cope with it.

Hope this helps you out and you get sorted soon.



Hi Shells, how did you end up going with the ENT?

I really liked how you asked for prayer - I have had similar restless nights like you and done/felt the same way.


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