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British Lung Foundation
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Cough and Mucus

HI again all.

My next question is regarding how you all deal with the cough. I find that, despite taking the mucus thinning meds, as soon as my head hits the pillow I start with a rasping cough, this is most prevalent when I lie on my right side or on my back. Have tried Mucinex and currently ACC long (this is a soluble form of Acetylcystein - usually used in the UK for paracetamol overdose) and tend to use it everyday. They certainly give significant relief during the day but at night its a different story.

I always have a packet of Fisherman's Friend by the bed they help a bit.

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Hello Andy. I don't have a cough (only when I get a chest infection) so I'm afraid that I can't be much help. I know that some members find the wedge-shaped pillows useful. I hope that someone comes along soon with some good advice for you. ☺

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Thank Pam, Sleeping on my left side helps while I am conscious but as soon as I move I cough. My other half says that I emit gurgling sounds most of the night when I am not coughing:) I have started doubling up on the meds for thinning to try and reduce the mucus build-up so we shall see.

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Do you use nebulizer or inhaler if so set it in your schedule to do it about an hour before bed

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I sympathise so much. It’s awful . When I’m like that, 4 weeks now this time! I have to sleep sitting up 4 pillows and have really cold water beside me to cool my throat. I also have strepsils but they don’t work anymore. Hope it eases soon for you (and I)

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You may have silent reflux which can be worse when in bed at night x

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Yes it’s also worth reading/ considering re acid reflux and GERD. Many people have this esp after antibiotics and presume it’s a lung flare up. It causes terrible coughing esp late afternoon and night and S Of a B breathing problems and can go on forever if untreated.

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Yes I have acid reflux and it caused me to be hospitalised in Moscow (just for a few hours) so now I take omeprazole daily to control it. My cough in the evening is I think caused by mucus and also sometimes by a dry tickle that just will not go away. My other half tells me that it is sometimes as if I am breathing underwater the amount of gurgling I do. I will speak to the doctor and check out your suggestion though, you could have something in your suggestion and it's worth checking out.

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My nighttime cough has been much better since I raised the head of my bed by 6”. It seemed counter-intuitive but has worked for me. It’s more comfortable too, and if you have reflux it definitely helps that.

This is where I got the idea healthunlocked.com/blf/post...

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It's helped me too Hanne62. I used to rattle (mainly throat) most of the night and never got a really good sleep. Our bed has been raised using a few books, I don't think it's quite 6". At first I thought it wasn't working but one morning when I woke up I realised I hadn't been rattling. I didn't immediately put it down to raising the bed, it only dawned on me later it was probably due to the raised bed 😊

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Hello andyrrc .

I can sympathise. I have a cough but it is non productive as is the nature of my disease. I cannot lie flat as this makes breathing harder. I have an electrical bed that allows me to adjust the height of my head space and feet. So I am always at an angle , never flat. I can't breathe lying flat and it seems to aggravate it if I'm coughing. I also find if my room is very dry (especially in winter) it makes my throat dry and causes me to cough more. So I make sure I use a humidifier.

Best wishes.

Cas xx 🌻

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I use carbocisteine 2 tablets three times a day but i still need to cough up the mucus before I lie down in bed. (Actually I am not sure the carbocisteine makes any difference!) A physiotherapist assessed me for 7% salt solution in a nebuliser (which produces a light sort of steam which is inhaled in a tube) to loosen the mucus; apparently not everyone is suitable though most people can use 7% salt solution. I then do Active Cycle of Breathing (huffing) (lots on youtube) to cough up the mucus into a pot. If I don't do these two things I cannot lie down. Occasionally the mucus gets ‘stuck’ even after I have done the above so my Flutter device, which vibrates the lungs to loosen the phlegm, helps.

I clear my lungs using the above every night at bedtime, but a few weeks ago I started 'rattling' about an hour or so after going to sleep, and had to do the ACB etc again. I then bought a bed wedge 6 inches to nothing and about 5 feet long - this is similar to raising the head of the be by 6 inches as mentioned by Hanne on this post. Now I do not wake up.

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Thanks for the info. What is the flutter device? Not heard of one, I know that some people have massage and tapping on the back to help but did not know there was a machine that did it

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The flutter device works as you breath in to it. You have to hold it at the best angle for you. It does not work on electricity. It costs about £49 on the internet, but your doctor may prescribe perhaps. There is also the Acapella which is similar but I think the technique has to be taught by a physiotherapist. More expensive is the electricity powered Aerosure Medic but that costs about £130 and I don't think can be prescribed. There is more information on Google.

However, I only use my Flutter if some mucus just won't come up. Most of it is coughed up using Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (huffing). When I started doing it it completely changed my life I think, as previously I was sleeping sitting up every night!

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Many thanks I will check it out because I really have issue with the mucus even for sputum tests

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I also have problems with night-time coughing. Like you, as soon as my head hits the pillow, I start to cough.

I use an electric bed and a wedge shaped pillow because I cannot lie flat but I have to lie on my right because I have severe pain in my left hip ( needs replacing ) but I still have to sit on the edge of the bed during the night in order to cough up mucus. I never get a decent sleep and consequently, I am shattered all day and can fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

I, too, find Fisherman's Friends beneficial but I would dearly love to get a good night's sleep.

I hope you find a solution that suits you.

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Coughing wakes me up at night so here I am reading older conversations and it seems so many people have similar problems. I don't have anything useful to add but it's the middle of the night and jumping in on this conversation makes me feel a little less lonely. So here I am. I sleep almost upright, I can't lay flat, though haven't figured out a good way to not slide down the bed in my sleep. I keep a bottle of water and Strepsils by the bed though like someone said, they don't seem to have any effect anymore. I haven't tried Fisherman's Friends yet, I will definitely try that tomorrow. I don't sleep well anyway then I just get to sleep then wake myself up coughing.

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