Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Coughing up phlegm

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 36 Replies
  • Posted By: imamystery
  • October 26, 2007
  • 05:01 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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36 Replies:

  • ask your docter to refer you to a pulmonoogist. have you had a cat scan of your chest
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • October 28, 2007
    • 09:44 AM
    • 0
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  • If you're not opposed to it, you could try some natural support. A few herbs that support respiratory health are slippery elm, mullein, and licorice root. Try searching online to find out more about these herbs and if they might be what would help you. You might also try finding information on a 'mucus-free diet'. Don't worry, you'll figure it out... Good luck!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • October 29, 2007
    • 06:25 AM
    • 0
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  • farmer's lung also called thresher's lung or harvester's lung a pulmonary disorder that results from the development of hypersensitivity to inhaled dust from moldy hay or other fodder. Its symptoms include a sudden onset of breathlessness, fever, a rapid heartbeat, cough (especially in the morning), copious production of phlegm, and a general sense of feeling ill. Acute attacks may last a few days to several weeks. In its chronic form, farmer's lung may persist for years and lead to respiratory failure from chronic bronchitis or pulmonary fibrosis. Avoidance of offending dusts is the most effective treatment. Farmer's lung is the prototype of a number of diseases that are categorized ashypersensitivity pneumonitis; these include pigeon breeder's lung (also called bird fancier's, or bird breeder's, lung), mushroom worker's lung, cheesewasher's lung, and coffee worker's lung. What is your occupation and do you live near a farm?
    rad-skw 1,605 Replies
    • October 30, 2007
    • 10:59 AM
    • 0
    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 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! Can you think back 8 months ago and find some connection? Were you sick and did you take any antibiotics? Are you on any medications currently? Did you change anything in your diet? This can be as inoccuous as changing from regular to diet soft drinks. Think back and see if anything changed. Did you acquire a new pet? Did you purchase any new furniture or do any renovation? Do you in fact live near a farm? Do you have nasal congestion along with the cough? Any sneezing? Any shortness of breath? Any history of asthma? Best wishesDOM
    acuann 3,080 Replies
    • October 30, 2007
    • 06:13 PM
    • 0
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  • I do not want to sound like an alarmist - but it is very important you get a complete check-up - INCLUDING a Cancer screening!My father-in-law had a nasty phlegmy cough for over a year, his doctors could find nothing wrong with him. He went to doctors in the Kansas City area as well as in his Texas resort home area - neither set of doctors thought to screen him because he was otherwise the picture of physical health. He was not overweight, had no allergies, never smoked, (before the coughing slowed him) he was able to hike and walk several miles at a time (even into his seventieth birthday), ate right - lots of fish and veggies -- basically, he did everything right.IN the middle of the night, after his 51st wedding anniversary, he awoke coughing. It was all he could do to roll sideways to keep from choking. He was in a sweat and could hardly move. Everyone thought he'd had a stroke. The next day, in the hospital, he had several tests done. The day after we were told he had advance liver & pancreatic cancer. SOMETIMES A COUGH IN AN OTHERWISE HEALTHY PERSON IS THE ONLY SYMPTOM OF THIS TYPE OF CANCER. He was already too far - three weeks later we had his funeral.PLEASE - IF YOU ARE OTHERWISE HEALTHY - GET A CANCER SCREENING!It may save your life!And - if it does turn out to be cancer - do NOT go along with everything the doctors say unquestioningly...PLEASE! Check-out the Cancer Treatment Centers of America...they were not known of when dad was around..if they had been, he might be too.Just think about it, but don't take too long.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 2, 2007
    • 07:33 PM
    • 0
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  • I hope the last post was exactly what the founders of this web-site envisioned. Long may it last. To the rtheroff...sorry to hear about your father-in-law. I have been repeatedly scanned for a "thing" on my pancreas...but as it is not growing, they aren't concerned anymore. I am though. Nobody knows what pre-cancerous pancreas' look like! My dad died of pancreatic cancer, and though had no pain, was just ill-feeling and nauseated. Since pancreatic cancer has a very high mortality rate, I'm not sure if my dad wouldn't have elected to die quickly, rather than linger. As it was, he elected to stop all feeding and fluids, pain and nausea was controlled with fentanyl, and he just sliped away quietly. At that age, they don't treat it very aggressively. Which hospital in KC was your dad's doc affiliated with. I hope it wasn't St. Luke's, as that's where I usually go.
    rad-skw 1,605 Replies
    • November 3, 2007
    • 11:21 AM
    • 0
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  • I hope the last post was exactly what the founders of this web-site envisioned. Long may it last. To the rtheroff...sorry to hear about your father-in-law. I have been repeatedly scanned for a "thing" on my pancreas...but as it is not growing, they aren't concerned anymore. I am though. Nobody knows what pre-cancerous pancreas' look like! My dad died of pancreatic cancer, and though had no pain, was just ill-feeling and nauseated. Since pancreatic cancer has a very high mortality rate, I'm not sure if my dad wouldn't have elected to die quickly, rather than linger. As it was, he elected to stop all feeding and fluids, pain and nausea was controlled with fentanyl, and he just sliped away quietly. At that age, they don't treat it very aggressively. Which hospital in KC was your dad's doc affiliated with. I hope it wasn't St. Luke's, as that's where I usually go.It's sad to hear about your father, and I can certainly sympathize with your fears about your "thing" -- but pancreatic cancer has a dismal survival even when caught early, so this isn't like breast or colon cancer where early detection helps...
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 3, 2007
    • 01:26 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Hi imamystery,You are talking about ME. I am doing the exact same thing. This morning I woke up thinking I was drowning... I coughed and hacked and choaked it up, then gaged so much because it was thick, white and real stringy I ended up throwing up. I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am thrilled that I saw your ad. I would LOVE to know what worked for you. I am 53, and an animal and horse person. My husband read this and agreed with the "senior" man about it being maybe grain dust related or something...???????
    Mulelady 1 Replies
    • December 3, 2008
    • 10:29 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Hi. I read your story and my heart goes out to you. I have somewhat the same story and have had this phlegm cough since last November. I still cant get a diagnosis and am at a loss. My doctor has tried out a number of things on me including bloodtests, ant-acid medications, puffers, changing my blood pressure medication and nothing has helped so far. It will be a while before I can see some specialists and will have to wait in agony til then. Upon reading replies which you received before mine, I am somewhat worried about the person who talked about the possibilities of having pancreatic cancer. I dont seem to have all the symptoms of this type of cancer and it doesnt seem that you do either, but just the same..it has me worried. It does get scary when you cant get a diagnosis for a long period of time. It does make one worried about which of a million diseases out there has been contracted. I guess you and me both have to patiently wait somehow until a diagnosis can be reached. Please keep me posted. Thankyou for reading.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi. I eliminated 90% of my problem by giving up "dairy products". I still have issues if I eat very much wheat, or foods containing starches.About the only thing that doesn't make the problem worse, is meat and green vegetables.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • October 15, 2009
    • 11:50 PM
    • 0
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  • how about a mycoplasma?
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 16, 2009
    • 04:33 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
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  • I too was coughing a lot & being told to triple my dose of Symbicort for my asthma, but still not getting any relief. Finally, my GP told me it was acid reflux & refererred me to an EnT who did a scope of my larynx. She saw that my vocal words were indeed irritated from tha acid in my stomach & prescribed Pantaloc as well as telling me to make lifestyle changes: very little coffee, chocolate, rich foods, no alcohol or mint. After several weeks I noticed a difference and the coughing eventually disappeared altogether as well as most of the post-nasal drip. I have to admit, I was very surprised that that cured my coughing!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!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 4, 2010
    • 09:22 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Hi. I read your story and my heart goes out to you. I have somewhat the same story and have had this phlegm cough since last November. I still cant get a diagnosis and am at a loss. My doctor has tried out a number of things on me including bloodtests, ant-acid medications, puffers, changing my blood pressure medication and nothing has helped so far. It will be a while before I can see some specialists and will have to wait in agony til then. Upon reading replies which you received before mine, I am somewhat worried about the person who talked about the possibilities of having pancreatic cancer. I dont seem to have all the symptoms of this type of cancer and it doesnt seem that you do either, but just the same..it has me worried. It does get scary when you cant get a diagnosis for a long period of time. It does make one worried about which of a million diseases out there has been contracted. I guess you and me both have to patiently wait somehow until a diagnosis can be reached. Please keep me posted. Thankyou for reading.One common denominator ..... I had the same thing as you all.. I was 70 lbs over weight. Once I lost the weight it all went away! I exercied for 45 minute each and EVERY DAY! Once I started that reg. it started to fade by the time 3 months had gone by it was all but gone after 14 months and 78 lbs gone I was totally free of the Phlem! Hope this helps?!?!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have the same issue. Only, sadly, I have had it for three years. I am a 23 female and I feel embarrassed that I have this issue. Every morning, before doing anything, I have to cough up in order to get it out of my throat because it blocks me from breathing. I have seen a few doctors, and no one was able to figure out what this is. The first doctor even had my tousils removed!!! But it didn't stop it! I am so tired of having people hear me cough and I am still, after three years, embarrassed by it. I think I'll make another appoinment to get it looked at. My heart goes out to you because I know how frustrating this is. Hopefully, someone can help you.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have the same issue. Only, sadly, I have had it for three years. I am a 23 female and I feel embarrassed that I have this issue. Every morning, before doing anything, I have to cough up in order to get it out of my throat because it blocks me from breathing. I have seen a few doctors, and no one was able to figure out what this is. The first doctor even had my tousils removed!!! But it didn't stop it! I am so tired of having people hear me cough and I am still, after three years, embarrassed by it. I think I'll make another appoinment to get it looked at. My heart goes out to you because I know how frustrating this is. Hopefully, someone can help you.Has anyone got a cure or anything for this yet? I have the same problem where I just keep coughing and coughing all day long, especially in the morning when I cough up big chunks of phlegm. After the usual morning coughing I cough smaller amounts during the day, this has lasted just over a year now and it was at its worsed when I first got it for 6months long.So far no doctor has been able to help me and I've tried puffers etc and even been to a lung specialist. I have also had xrays done on my upper body and it came out all clear. Right now i'm going for a heart echo at the military hospital to see if they can find anything that has to do with this.I actually started getting this cough when I was on holiday in cape town (south africa) but it just keeps going on and on. I don't live near a farm or anything however I should perhaps clean my room more frequently as the cause could be dust or even cats (I have 2 cats walking around) however I have never had any problems with cats.When I am outside I still cough until I've been out for longer periods of time, after that I'm usually fine and don't show many symptoms of my coughing.Urg I wish someone could help me cause this is terrible! Its so thick in your throat that it makes it hard to breathe and as soon as you try clearing it out it flies out of your mouth. its really disgusting!!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • CPOD due to alfa-1 antitripsin deficiency and mucoviscidosis should be considered although the symptoms of the last one(mucoviscidosis) are supposed to be dramatic and usually appear in early childhood,10 % will be diagnosed later in life
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • hi guys im 11 years old and im coughing really hard im not sick i dont have a head ache or runny nose i jsut keep coughing and i threw up a little twice at 6 in the morning i barely have time to sleep and my family cant really afford doctors at this time if u know what to do please tell me.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi, I have noticed when I drink milk or eat cheese(dairy in general), during bouts of bronchitis or other phlegm producing events, my mucus tend to become much thicker and harder to expel. Not a cure, but maybe some relief.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • August 15, 2010
    • 01:08 PM
    • 0
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  • Hello everyone, I have closely read all of your replies and sadly i am too having the same issues. I am 19 years old and ive had this problem since i was a little girl. It usually happens when winter begins, and soon fades away in the previous seasons. But now ive been getting it for months in a row. I cough up heavy white thick mucus everyday, and it gets worst when it turns dark. I went to my doctor and she said that it was all because of my allergy, and that your nose runs and that sometimes the running goes down towards your throat which ends up having you swallow it which then forms into mucus. Im not too sure if this is necessarily true, but it all does make sense. She presrcibed me with some allergy medicines, it reduced it a bit, but i still have random cough attacks that occur. Its so gross how much i can cough up, and if i cough up the mucus, i cant swollow it because we all know thats bad for you. Coughing up something your body is trying to reject is obviously defeating its purpose. Ive tried the medicine Mucinex, which i discovered on the commercial, and basically it just thins out your mucus to make you not have those crazy cough attacks, and that you dont have to put so much energy into coughing. Im so sick and tired of dealing with this everyday, but hey its life. I hope this helped, and if someone found a solution for this, please share it with us all. Goodluck!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • September 22, 2010
    • 08:14 AM
    • 0
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  • Before you do any of the more serious involved tests, I would first try singling out some of the most common causes like allergies to the environment and different foods. Something like a wheat/gluten allergy for example is very common, and more often than not produces increases mucus throughout the body and effects breathing/mucus production in the lungs. (This would usually appear as a constant problem because wheat is such a staple in most meals.) Other common allergens include dairy or soy, and can also include environmental allergens like dust, pet dander, and certain cleaning products. My doctors never offered me up this possibility, and told me I had asthma for years.While the more serious causes shouldn't be overlooked, don't forget to check for the common "easy fixes" first! A food allergy test is a good start. Good luck!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • September 22, 2010
    • 09:29 AM
    • 0
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