Difficulty clearing lungs: I read all... - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation
45,130 members52,796 posts

Difficulty clearing lungs


I read all the time about bronchiectasis sufferers having to clear their lungs daily but I find this so very difficult. I have been given certain aids and tried most things but still I cannot cough up much and only at certain times of the day - after extra activity which gives me a chesty cough - and not every day. I do cough quite badly first thing in the morning but it is a hard cough which produces nothing. I also suffer with rhinitis which causes phlegm problems too. I have had respiratory physio care and advice but even that hasn't helped much - especially all the huffing and coughing because I have a hernia which I don't want to make worse. I am wondering now whether any of you share my problem and if so have you found anything which has helped you.

19 Replies

If there is a need, its helpful to clear the lungs.

Don't force coughing up.

Use ACB - see video

I'm prescribed carbocisteine to help keep the mucus thinner also;

drinking plenty of water to help keep the mucus thinner and more easily coughed up.

in reply to Bkin

As always Bkin you are wise xx

I use a Aerobika device which is good as it's adjustable. I then use the clearing methods that the physios recommend after that I have a hot shower and the steam helps also clear. Like Bkin says carbocisteine is good at thining the mucus.

Hope this helps.

You're not alone. I've not been able to clear my lungs for over a year. This is probably because I've not had any chest infections for that time. When I was ill and coughing I could do it. But these days there's nothing there to cough up it seems

Hi Spanielblue I have the same condition, have you used Carbocistine capsules, which help thin the mucus and also a flutter valve?

I tried Carbocistine for a couple of months but didn't notice any change so stopped taking them. I had to take several a day which was quite a number to take when they weren't helping me. I do have a flutter valve which physio prescribed for me but, at the same time, warned me that they do not help everyone. It doesn't help much. It makes me cough a lot which loosens my chest a bit but not always. I believe I have given up rather because nothing makes a lot of difference so I just put up with the condition.

Hi Spanielblue, if you dont suffer from mucus then I dont think you need to worry about clearing your lungs, some people just dont suffer this problem. I have a sinus problem and this causes me to produce excessive mucus and so I find that I am clearing my lungs and nose all day which is a real nuisance x

in reply to Izb1

I do suffer from mucus but not all day. When it is there it does make me cough - not just one or two coughs but a spasm of coughing which sounds awful. Probably, like you, I do blow my nose a lot, sniff and keeping clearing my throat. Think the latter has a lot to do with rhinitis which a specialist told me was age related and nothing I could do about. Thank you for replying

in reply to Spanielblue

When mine gets out of control I have to go onto antihistamine to dry things up which really helps x

Hi, I have bronchiectasis & don’t cough anything up. I have found that exercise seems to help keep my lungs clear. Even when I have a chest infection I get a dry cough. When I was first diagnosed- about 15 years ago - the consultant said there were 2 types & one was dry, which is what I have.

I also have various aids & have had physio advice. I tend to only use the aids etc when I have a chest infection.

I was given a simple acapella machine to use. You need to persist with this and check out YouTube for instruction videos. I am on carbocisteine 375 mg six tabs a day medication as well. Best of luck with managing the illness.

You are right about needing to "persist". Not very good at this most of the time because have other things to cope with. I haven't looked at You Tube instruction video so will do this. Thank you!

Have you tried Olbas Bath oil? Just soak in bath and gentle breathing excerises. No need to Huff and puff to much. Also use Olbas oil stick as have sinus problems. Doctor when abroad used to reccomend pure alcohol rubbed on back. Alcohol was cheap then.Also good for musle pain. Friends thought I had taken to drink. I don't drink!

Take care. X🥂

No, I haven't but will definitely give it a try now. Have already looked up the product and found it easily available and not too expensive. Is the Olbas an alternative to alcohol and did the doctor tell you why he recommended it (the alcohol)? I have noticed that a hot bath often gives me a chesty cough afterwards so the oil might well help to loosen the mucus so that I can cough it up. Thank you for the recommendation.

in reply to Spanielblue

Think alcohol could be as well as lived in Cyprus for a time and all most if the Surgeons and Docs Dentists used it .for all kinds of problems.Think some places doing same here. Used to use eucalyptus leaves in an oil burner. No good now as can,t use even a small tea light

Keep well😊x

I have severe bronchiectasis but rarely cough anything up tho I cough a lot. Nor have I been told to clear my lungs every day! I am awaiting surgery for my second hernia, its so big I call it my alien baby. So we have those in common!

PS I also take Carbocistine 3 times a day

So pleased to have something in common with another sufferer. I mean this in a caring way, of course. My bronchiectasis started with lung damage and a nasty bug which wasn't TB but was in the same group. It appears to have started again so this is why I am being pressed for a mucus sample - otherwise it is the horrid camera procedure. My hernia doesn't sound as big as yours but has grown since it first started - always appears larger at the end of the day. No action to be taken yet until it causes a problem but, nevertheless, I know coughing will make it worse. Like you, I cough a lot - quite bad coughing spasms rather than just a cough or two. A variety of things will bring coughing on apart from mucus. Hope your hernia op will soon be over and done with. Thank you for getting in touch.

Perhaps you don't have much to bring up?

Alongside other things, walking a lot helps to keeps the lungs clearer and I find that lying on the side of where the the lung has most damage seems to help; like you - coughing/clearing in the morning on waking.

Eating fruit and veg seems to help - keeps everything moving well and so less pressure on the diaphragm from the gut. Plus skin seems better so it must do something as good on the inside!

You may also like...