British Lung Foundation
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Confused with phlegm

Hi all, don’t generally feel unwell but for about 10 days now I’ve had a productive cough more so because I try and make it come up as much as possible as I don’t think it’s good to leave it on my lungs.

But just confused as to why it’s not going. I have mild asthma mostly brought on by exercise. My phlegm was green to begin with but now is clear and has like a frothy layer on top.

Any help would be appreciated as I’m due to start a new job on Tuesday.

11 Replies
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Hello Helennn, sorry to hear you've felt unwell and it is important to cough up the phlegm off your chest. I think you need to go back to your G.P and explain it to him/her. Maybe give you medication to help clear it on your chest. Judging by the colour of your phlegm to start with being green sounds like you had an infection to begin with. Take care and please let us know how you get on? 🤞🤒

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Hi, that’s the thing I think I’m worried to go to my doctors as I don’t feel like I need antibiotics as generally feel ok but I feel like if I go that’s what I’m going to be handed! Thank you stumpy, I will x

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I have called my pulmonary nurse out twice so far this year for the same sort of thing although the phlegm was never green so I did not suspect a chest infection it was just the frothy cream stuff and the awful cough. However because a crackle was discovered each time on the lung I was put onto antibiotics and they cleared the cough up. Hope this helps

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Hi gingermusic thank you for your reply. Aww sorry to hear you were feeling poorly, glad to hear they cleared the cough up though! I think I’m just sick of being on antibiotics have taken so many I worry that if I take them for minor things they won’t work when I really need them.

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Yes I agree thats always a worry isn't it?

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Sounds like you've started to get over an infection. Your Dr won'tr argue if you decline ABs, they'd rather not prescribe them. Are you on inhaled corticosteroid (Clenil modulate or the like) ? S/He'll probably tell you to increase your dosage for a while to help.

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Hi Soulsaver thank you for your reply, no I’m sure whey won’t. If it continues on to next week I think I’ll book an appointment. I am I’m on 250 seretide once in the morning and once at night. Good idea thank you!

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Hi Helennn I'm not sure I fully understood what you meant, but for the avoidance of doubt, I'd see your GP before increasing seretide dose; it's a quite a strong dose as is.

Best wishes

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Hi Soulsaver, yes I think I should see him first.

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If you were a bronchiectasis sufferer like me I would say it sounds like you need a mucolytic to make your sputum come up more poductively and easily, thereby reducing the need to generate the type of cough that drags up the sputum but also hurts your lungs. Carbocysteine and Acetylsteine are the two common generic drug types and Flemex and Mucodyne are two common brand names

I too don't take antibis at the first signs of truoble, but if my sputum turns purulent i'm straight onto them - it's one of the few 'flags' of infection that makes me take action rather than waiting in hope of my immune system kicking in (which it often dose for other flags). I don't worry about running out of efficacy on antibis cos i know there are tons of them in the background that are not in general oral use and can be called in if you are fall into deep danger. My Papworth consultant told me years ago never to worry about their being no antibi to treat me in later life and she repeated it when I saw her a few weeks ago, so I don't worry - I think you are much more likely to die or suffer badly from am untreated infection than to die because there were no effective antibis left to treat you!

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Helennn

Hi, usually if the phlegm/mucus is green it indicated an infection, yellow or clear is a sign that you are clear of infection even tho' it's troubling. If you get breathless with it go see your GP.

IKeith

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