Discussions By Condition: Repiratory conditions

constantly coughing up phlegm

Posted In: Repiratory conditions 63 Replies
  • Posted By: imamystery
  • October 25, 2007
  • 07:49 PM

For about the past 8 months, I have done nothing but cough up phlegm. My doctor has no idea what causes it, my x-rays and scans have all been clear. I dont smoke, and I am 48 years old and a housewife.

The phlegm is white and very thick. Sometimes it gets stringy and I start to choke on it. If I'm not coughing, I'm clearing my throat, because phlem is always there, no matter how much I cough up. Theres not a moment that goes by in which I don't feel the phlem in my chest and throat. I clear my throat all the time, sometimes every few minutes

I always have tissues, or be near a sink or garbage can. When I start to cough, I grab tissue to put over my mouth to cough out phlegm, but sometimes 1 or 2 tissues is not enough, and need a cup (sometimes I can cough up 1/2 a cup) or cough for at least an hour. I can not fully rest, and if I do, the phlegm wakes me up, start coughing for at least 30 minutes before it stops.

Sometimes when I eat or drink, I start to gag and choke. Coughing fits can last anywhere from a few seconds to the point where I get tears in my eyes, gag, choke, and then throw up. I usually feel nausiated when I cough. The coughs can start as small regular coughs then progresses to full chest cough. I try to sip water in between coughs or immediately afterwards.

If teh phlegm is too thick to cough up, I have to swallow it until I cough again (which makes it even harder to get up). I sometimes gag on the phlegm until I need to swallow it, which can cause me to gag even harder.

I can't do anything without violently coughing up phlegm (walking, chaning positions, doing laundry etc). I can't go out anywhere because I feel so miserable. I have a headache along with all this that won't go away, and my chest and throat always hurt. I can't go out in public or visit anyone (or have anyone visit my house) because I know its irratting to others listening to my cough up phlegm.

I can only sleep in reclined positions because if I am flat on my back, I start to choke. I have tried OTC Sinus and Flu medicines with no avail, Mucinex did nothing for me either. My husband is at a loss for what do, and so am I.

I feel horrible and completely miserable. I am tired of being sick, tired and having my whole body hurt because of coughing. I am getting helpless and desperate!

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63 Replies:

  • Get yourself tested for allergies!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 21, 2007
    • 04:13 AM
    • 0
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  • has any thing changed recently or has the cough continued. I am not sure if I have the same problem, because i do not cough that volume of phlegm. But could it be caused by a hernia in your stomach. Could there be a leaking of stomach gasses coming up through the esouphagas into the lungs. A partial support for me has been a steriod wiffer along with a strong cough suppressant.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • For about the past 8 months, I have done nothing but cough up phlegm. My doctor has no idea what causes it, my x-rays and scans have all been clear. I dont smoke, and I am 48 years old and a housewife.The phlegm is white and very thick. Sometimes it gets stringy and I start to choke on it. If I'm not coughing, I'm clearing my throat, because phlem is always there, no matter how much I cough up. Theres not a moment that goes by in which I don't feel the phlem in my chest and throat. I clear my throat all the time, sometimes every few minutesI always have tissues, or be near a sink or garbage can. When I start to cough, I grab tissue to put over my mouth to cough out phlegm, but sometimes 1 or 2 tissues is not enough, and need a cup (sometimes I can cough up 1/2 a cup) or cough for at least an hour. I can not fully rest, and if I do, the phlegm wakes me up, start coughing for at least 30 minutes before it stops. Sometimes when I eat or drink, I start to gag and choke. Coughing fits can last anywhere from a few seconds to the point where I get tears in my eyes, gag, choke, and then throw up. I usually feel nausiated when I cough. The coughs can start as small regular coughs then progresses to full chest cough. I try to sip water in between coughs or immediately afterwards.If teh phlegm is too thick to cough up, I have to swallow it until I cough again (which makes it even harder to get up). I sometimes gag on the phlegm until I need to swallow it, which can cause me to gag even harder.I can't do anything without violently coughing up phlegm (walking, chaning positions, doing laundry etc). I can't go out anywhere because I feel so miserable. I have a headache along with all this that won't go away, and my chest and throat always hurt. I can't go out in public or visit anyone (or have anyone visit my house) because I know its irratting to others listening to my cough up phlegm. I can only sleep in reclined positions because if I am flat on my back, I start to choke. I have tried OTC Sinus and Flu medicines with no avail, Mucinex did nothing for me either. My husband is at a loss for what do, and so am I.I feel horrible and completely miserable. I am tired of being sick, tired and having my whole body hurt because of coughing. I am getting helpless and desperate!I have the same problem but im only 20 years old and from Australia sometimes it makes my chest hurt so hard it feels like im having a heart attack, i have beenon antibiotics and everything still...no difference, my sister was recently told she has a small murmor and breast cancer so im going to be checked for cancer and mumor as my mum had both these also.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 30, 2009
    • 08:18 AM
    • 0
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  • Hi Tazza 255let me know how your tests went. Im 23 and have had the same, mostly coughing phlegm for year. What is going on?
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 10, 2009
    • 02:29 AM
    • 0
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  • I live in Salt Lake City, Utah and get this for the last 3 years from November to March. Usually starts as a sore throat or small cold which I can usually take care of. But this nagging and sudden prolonged coughing until I almost throw up is exhausting. Ruins my sleep because I have to cough till I can't anymore before bed time and/or between 3-5 am, then I'm so awake but exhausted and my lungs hurt. Someone mentioned a metal taste at times with a deep cough, and I've wondered how to describe that to someone too. Always need a tissue, sink or garbage nearby as well. Otherwise I feel perfectly fine. Help! is there a doctor in this mix? Should I go to an allergist? Pulmonary specialist? I'm 56 and otherwise feeling great. Oh and I should add, when I exercise and have to push my lungs to capacity, I hardly ever cough, but afterwards within the hour I start again.
    hbsuess 2 Replies
    • February 25, 2009
    • 00:48 AM
    • 0
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  • I had been coughing for as long as I could remember. Finally my doctor told me to get a CT scan and after seeing a pulmonologist I found out I have Bronchiectasis, the sooner it's diagnosed the better. Bronchiectasis causes tons of respiratory infections and makes you sick most of the time. Now I'm being tested for Cystic Fibrosis so go to the doctor and ask for an X-ray and then a CT, the sooner the better!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Folks, I am very relieved to know that there are actually some of you out there that have a similar problem to mine. Although my problem is not quite as bad as the originater of this thread, it is slowly wearing me down to a point where I am losing all faith in the medical system. I dont know what I did to deserve this, but last November, I started having to clear my throat (or something down there) constantly. So, I dont have an all out regular cough, but only enough to clear my throat of the phlegm which is being constantly produced. Sometimes, it gets thick and I have to all out cough repeatedly to get the phlegm up but if I cough long enough and hard enough, I finally get something out. The phlegm is clear without any trace of blood thank God. I have had blood tests, pulmonary tests, sputum tests, x-rays; all of which were ok. I was put on anti-biotics for a week, I was given Losec stomach acid inhibitor, nose drops and even told to change my blood pressure medication, but the problem is "still with me". The only way I can get a decent nights sleep these days is by the use of a narcotic chest congestion medicine which apparently masks the problem for a while so I can get a decent sleep. Even that doesnt work sometimes! Recently, I have had a gastroscopy but I have not gotten the results for that yet. I will repost a thread if something is found out. I must say now that I "was" diagnosed with a hiatal hernia years ago; whether that has something to do with it I dont know. So, I am surviving from day to day in hopes that the doctors find out what is causing my condition. Then, maybe I will have something to work with to eliminate it. So my heart goes out to the originator of this thread; "IMAMYSTERY" and I hope you find out how your condition can be cured. Please let me know if you have better luck than me....
    ckanaan 33 Replies Flag this Response
  • Your symtoms are exactly like mine. I've been coughing like this since Nov. 2008. I've been to my family Dr. who refered me to a ENT. He said GERD...did everything he suggested. Done allergy testing..not allergic to anything...I go this Friday and he said if I'm not any better he's going to refer me to a Lung Dr. I would like to know if you ever found out what is wrong with you? I'm scared about going to the Lung Dr...Afraid it's going to be something really bad. For about the past 8 months, I have done nothing but cough up phlegm. My doctor has no idea what causes it, my x-rays and scans have all been clear. I dont smoke, and I am 48 years old and a housewife. The phlegm is white and very thick. Sometimes it gets stringy and I start to choke on it. If I'm not coughing, I'm clearing my throat, because phlem is always there, no matter how much I cough up. Theres not a moment that goes by in which I don't feel the phlem in my chest and throat. I clear my throat all the time, sometimes every few minutes I always have tissues, or be near a sink or garbage can. When I start to cough, I grab tissue to put over my mouth to cough out phlegm, but sometimes 1 or 2 tissues is not enough, and need a cup (sometimes I can cough up 1/2 a cup) or cough for at least an hour. I can not fully rest, and if I do, the phlegm wakes me up, start coughing for at least 30 minutes before it stops. Sometimes when I eat or drink, I start to gag and choke. Coughing fits can last anywhere from a few seconds to the point where I get tears in my eyes, gag, choke, and then throw up. I usually feel nausiated when I cough. The coughs can start as small regular coughs then progresses to full chest cough. I try to sip water in between coughs or immediately afterwards. If teh phlegm is too thick to cough up, I have to swallow it until I cough again (which makes it even harder to get up). I sometimes gag on the phlegm until I need to swallow it, which can cause me to gag even harder. I can't do anything without violently coughing up phlegm (walking, chaning positions, doing laundry etc). I can't go out anywhere because I feel so miserable. I have a headache along with all this that won't go away, and my chest and throat always hurt. I can't go out in public or visit anyone (or have anyone visit my house) because I know its irratting to others listening to my cough up phlegm. I can only sleep in reclined positions because if I am flat on my back, I start to choke. I have tried OTC Sinus and Flu medicines with no avail, Mucinex did nothing for me either. My husband is at a loss for what do, and so am I. I feel horrible and completely miserable. I am tired of being sick, tired and having my whole body hurt because of coughing. I am getting helpless and desperate!
    Bethany 2 Replies Flag this Response
  • Dear Bethany: it is very apparent that our problems are not quite the same alothough we have the coughing in common. Believe me, if they do enough tests on you, they "will" find the root of the problem where your body is producing an extreme amount of phlegm. It is quite clear to me that your body is producing all that phlegm to repair a problem which you are not yet aware of. In my case, my coughing fits are not quite as abundant as before. I have a hard time coughing up phlegm but when I get it out, the problem disappears for a little while. I am not sure yet what my problem exactly is because the test results from my gastroscopy are not in yet, but they did a million tests previous to that like pulmonary tests (clear), x-rays (clear), asbestos check (clear), infections (clear). Which makes me believe that due to my long time hiatus hernia, my esophagus has been damaged from all the stomach acid splashing on my esophagus walls and my body is producing phlegm to try to heal my esophagus. So, my phlegm problem is originating from my body trying to repair my esophagus...not from my lungs. I am sorry, Im not a doctor so I cant tell you exactly whats wrong with you, but I do know that phlegm is produced when the body is trying to heal itself or to get rid of something. Im not sure but did you say that your doctor has done x-rays of your lungs? Did they do a pulmonary test? Have you had a gastroscopy where they stick a camera down your throat? Im sure that after those tests are done, they will finally discover the root of your phlegm production. Let me know how it goes; ckanaan@live.ca. Goodluck.
    ckanaan 33 Replies Flag this Response
  • Thank you so much for your reply and experience with this. My ent is going to refer me to a lung Dr tomorrow...so I have not had all the testing done yet. My ent ran a scope down my nose into my throat when he suspected GERD...I did the regimin of taking Nexium twice a day for about 4 months and Singulair. He then suspected sinus infection since I started to get nasal polyps. I took a months worth of antibiotics and that did not help either. Personally...I do not feel this in in my lungs. All this phlegm is in my throat. My lungs do hurt though...I think from coughing so hard. Like you...I have to cough and cough...and at least once a day, throw up to get all this clear sticky foamy phlegm up. I'm so exhausted from this. I so wish to get a good nights rest like a normal person again. I'm ready to get to the bottom of this. Please post again when you get your test results back.
    Bethany 2 Replies Flag this Response
  • I can't say I was coughing up cups of phlem, but it was enough to cause a deep and cronic chest cough for a good month or more each year for three years. It would eventually go away, but that period was terrible. I finally went in and complained enough for a doctor to actually take a few minutes and examine me thotoughly. He suspected a slight case of asthma causing a restriction in my lungs which makes them unable to clear the fluid that is usually just coughed out and gone during a cold or infection. He had me use a nebulizer and I felt instantly better. It took about a week for the infection to leave but opening up the passages via the nebulizer allowed my lungs to clear the phlem and allow things to clear up. I have been told that undiagnosed asthma is the cause of many cronic cough and phlem issues. I know it sounds simple and unlikely, but it might be worth checking out.-Wes
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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  • Thanks for your input. After what seemed like a 1000 tests, my doctor finally set me up with a few specialists of whom I am yet to see. But she took a stab in the dark and gave me this thing to try called a flovent diskus 250mg. Well, I've only used it for a couple of days now and my phlegm cough has almost completely disappeared!! Of course, time will tell if it will keep working for me. If you have a case of asthma, you should try this stuff too. So far its like a miracle drug for me. At last, my phlegm cough has gave me a break. Its been since last November that I've been coughing my brains out. Not sure what I picked up or how I picked it up, but it hit suddenly. I've never had health issue in the past besides back problems (like 90% of the population). If you're interested, I will keep you posted. ......thanks for reading....
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • How wonderful to meet other coughers. I had a cold last Dec. then In Jan. same cold came back and then the coughing began. I hate to go to bed ,I am a stomach sleeper so can't sleep that way anymore usually I cough and spit up two small towels' full. I exercise every morning elipitical and treadmill jacked up to 15 height and 3.2 miles per hour on both do 1 hour. No coughing at all. Then in about an hour coughing starts.I went to walk in clinic last March and took xyzal,predezone,tussinex and astelin nose drops. Finally could sleep upon taking tussinex. Dr. said allergy and i had post nasal drip which set up the coughing I don't think I can live on tussinex as it is codene and strong . Anyone found a cure for this yet???
    jenny herrick 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • I seem to have a similar problem to some on the post on here. I have been coughing for about 8 years. I cant really remember, but I think I had a regular cough that went away for a little while, but came back it is worst. its not so much the coughing, but the coughing up phlem ( which is somtimes clear/sometimes greyish green) I feel fine other wise. sometimes I really dont have to cough, but I force myself, so I can get rid of the phlem I feel that is stuck in my body. I was having heart flutters once in a while (had an echocardiogram, that came out fine) my blood work came out OK, a bit anemic/cholesterol borderline high. I keep searching the internet for people who have the same problem & see what the cause of this is. I am not a smoker & regular weight for my height. I am in my late thirties.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • October 22, 2009
    • 02:54 AM
    • 0
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  • All my life I've had asthma and allergy problems, but when I was around 8 years old I began coughing up phlegm every morning. I thought it was normal because my father always did the same (my dad was a smoker). I was always having breathing problems, I caught every cold during every cold season and they always ended up going to my lungs and as I got older the problem worsened. Eventually in my teen years I was in and out of the doctors, They had me on allergy medications, inhalers, and nebulizers. The allergy medications seemed to help my nose, but not my phlegm issue. My nose is also an issue, it's constantly inflamed and I am unable to breath from it properly. Sorry to sidetrack, but when I was 17, I moved to New York, as I had originally lived in Florida. I lived in NY for 3 years and all of my problems had gone completely. I moved back to Florida when I was 19. I'm 22 now and the problem is now worse than it ever was, I also picked up smoking when I moved back and recently quit about 4 months ago, which made my problem all the worse. ( I know it was ignorant of me ). My brother seems to have the same breathing issues, though I'm not sure of the phlegm situation. My lungs always hurt and my chest always feels tight, but it seems the phlegm is coming from my nose and going down my throat, perhaps when I sleep? I'm a VERY loud snorer. My phlegm goes from either a pure white to a yellowish color and it's quite thick. I don't cough so much since over so many years of having the issue I'm able to work it up by moving my throat a certain way. There's a certain way that others have noticed about myself and my brother, we always throw our heads back really fast to take deep breaths. I'm guessing that my issue is either allergies, humidity in the air, or the heat. Around winter time when it's really cold and dry, that seems to help. I hope just reading about this someone will know they're not alone, as I've felt in the situation, and I'm now glad to know that I'm not the only one with a similar issue to all of yours who posted before me.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 22, 2009
    • 09:56 AM
    • 0
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  • I am 47 years old and for around a year now my coughing of mucus or phlem has increased dramadicly. On a daily basis I cough up about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of phlem. My doctor and I have finally figured out what is going on. If you answer the folling question with a yes, then this may pertain to you. Do you or did you suffer from acid reflux? A couple years ago I have a gastro bypass to stop the acid from entering the esophagus. I have been diagnoised with barrets esophagus. My coughing of phlem during the barrets stage was bad but not this bad. I have now been diagnosed with whats called, barrets with displasia. The cells in the esophagus lining are slowing changing to witch could become cancer. The barrets irratates the esophagus producing the phlem. The esophagus pushes it upward and into the broncial tubes. This is when you cough it out. If yours is like mine you will notice the coughing of phlem will encrease slitely shortly after you eat. If so see a gastroinestinal doctor for an endoscopy so he can take biopsies. My gastrointestinal doctor has enformed me that our local hospital is now performing a new process with laser to burn out the Barret cells. If not treated it will turn into esophagial cancer. I'm almost there. And I pray that I'm not to late.
    less552000 1 Replies
    • January 9, 2010
    • 08:48 AM
    • 0
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  • Thank you for your advice.I flew to Canada last week for my mothers95th birthday and I think I cought this cold on the plane. Now it isswollen glands, sore throat and the problem with phlegm.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 12, 2010
    • 04:18 AM
    • 0
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  • Thank you for your advice.I flew to Canada last week for my mothers95th birthday and I think I cought this cold on the plane. Now it isswollen glands, sore throat and the problem with phlegm.My cough began in 1981 after taking a sulfa medication for a uti. The cough is daily and comes on without warning. Often I cough until I vomit. Very often it is just clear mucus unless I have just eaten and then it is quite horrible. I have been through every test; have taken all different medication for acid reflux, asthma, allergies, etc. Nothing has actually worked. For years now I have blamed this horrible cough on the sulfa medication because it started after I had been taking the medication and ended up hospitalized with a severe allergic reaction (unbelievable muscle pain in my legs and feet as well as internal and external rashes). Has anyone else taken sulfa (bactrium) and ended up coughing for years and years? Also, occasionally when I talk my throat makes my voice sound like I have been crying. It is soooo frustrating! Please respond to "Florida".
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 26, 2010
    • 03:25 PM
    • 0
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  • I have read your post and found that my son has similar issues. He was diagnosed with asthma (does not have wheezing, just constant cough with excessive sputum). I too have asthma (same symptoms as son) but we are both allergic to dog hair (note: even if you get rid of your dog it can take weeks to months, even years to rid your home of the pet dander and allergens that the dog has left behind, so don't expect immediate relief). I did not develope this allergy until I was pregnant with my son some 12 years ago. I'm pretty sure the asthma is a direct result of me burning my lungs with ammonia vapors when I stripped the wax from my kitchen floor. We both have allergies to mold (our house has had numerous water leaks and the only way to make sure there isn't mold growth is to tear out your walls). Dust mites is also a major problem for us both, but this is something I have not been able to eliminate because the act of dusting itself triggers my asthma. When the cedar pollen goes up we are both reaching for our inhalers regularly. My sons asthma is under control most of the time with a night time routine of an albuterol inhaler, an advair inhaler, and zyrtec. However, if either one of us gets a cold or virus it turns into a chronic cough and respiratory infection. The only antibiotic that works for my son is azythromycin (z-pak). He recently had an urgent care doc prescribe him amoxil and then keflex and neither one of them worked. So I finally had to go to another doc to finally get him the z-pak. Praying it kicks it this time as well. My mother-in-law has had these same symptoms for years (was a smoker so they attributed it to that at first) and was diagnosed with COPD. She slowly became worse over the last 10 years (she's 70) and finally ended up having some spots show up on x-ray that they thought were cancer, but after getting scoped they suspected it was TB. Then made a final diagnosis of MAC. MAC is mycobaterium avium complex (sp?). It is the same type of bateria that causes TB but it supposedly is not contagious. However, the CDC does not specify how a person gets it. So if it's not contagious then how the ***l does anybody contract it, I ask? They say that MAC can be found in drinking water, animals, soil, and even dust in the home, but still does not list how this could get into a person's lungs. MAC like TB can lie dormant for years before it causes symptoms and supposedly it is only found to cause problems in people with compromised immune systems like AIDS patients or the elderly. I have done some serious questioning about MAC and the fact that my son has actually used my mother-in-laws inhaler in an emergency. So they gave my son a TB skin test and we are supposed to go back for the reading in a couple of days. If his cough has not cleared in a few months, the new doc says they are going to scope him or do a sputum culture to make sure. MAC is more prominent in the south. The CDC is actually doing a study in Atlanta and Houston. I am concerned that they know this is on the rise and are not really saying much to keep people from being concerned and to also not create a shortage of antibiotics. You have to take several antibiotics for at least a year to get rid of both MAC and TB. If you haven't had a sputum culture I would see a lung specialist and ask for one. My mother-in-law obviously had this infection long before any x-ray or other routine tests found it. She had been seen by doctors for 10 years with these same symptoms. What also is interesting is that my father-in-law was suspected of having TB during the Vietnam War and was quarantined for a month before they let him go and then told him he was fine. I wonder if he has an undiagnosed MAC infection as well. He has had major lung problems since, including lung collapse and lung cancer. Good luck all of you with your health. It's hard to enjoy life when even breathing is difficult.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 16, 2010
    • 06:38 AM
    • 0
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  • HI everyone....my mum has this same issue, She has been coughing for the past month. it started all of a sudden and hasnt left. she has been hospitalised and the doctors ahve no clue as to what is casuing this. She coughs up phelgm and chokes and is unable to breathe...this happens alsmot every hours or so....please help me mail me on michellemoodley@gmail.com. she has taken anitbotics and all sorts of other medicines..nothing seems to help. she has been to an ent specialist and gp and to the chiropractioner...does anybody know wahts going on...
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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