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Let’s talk about mucus

hi all. Lovely topic, eh? I feel like I have been playing whack-a-mole all week with my asthma. I have to take my inhaler at the first hint of uprising or it will blossom into a three hour episode of "hold terri hostage and make her breathe fast". I have won all week but the last three days it's mucus that is the first sign. I cough and sometimes it comes up. Little drop of clear, thick, crazy sticky stuff. Is that what y'all get? When you are infection free ya know… 

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  • Kathy P

    I get that too sometimes. Usually my mucus is in my sinuses though. So, if I'm coughing stuff up, I know I've got issues.

  • K8sMom2002

    Miserable mucus! Sometimes I think coughing produces mucus, which gets lodged in my bronchioles, which then make me cough, which then … well, it's the hamster on the wheel at that point. 

    Gigi, sorry you've had such a rough battle with it. My doctors have advised me to drink lots of fluids, as it is supposed to "thin out" the mucus. 

    There are meds out there that's supposed to help thin mucus. But then you get into that whole, "do I really want to add another med onto this already long list??" It's something to talk with your doctor about.

  • Kathy P

    I reach for the Mucinex (expectorant) as soon as I feel thick mucus….for me, it really makes a difference on keeping things more fluid. Yeah, it's yet another med and I hate having to take so much, but it does make a difference for me.

  • K8sMom2002

    Kathy P, is that an over the counter dose or RX? I need to add that to my list of "things to bring up" the next time I see my doctor. 

    I'd rather add one more med for a short time than have to deal with a long and protracted asthma flare.

  • Kathy P

    OTC dose – and there is the Mucinex which is extended release (12hr) andthe generic that is not extended release. I get the extra strengthMucinex at Costco. I cut in half if I need a regular dose.

  • Kathy P

    Oh and one thing to be careful about is combo cough/cold meds since manyof them have guaifenesin in them.

  • K8sMom2002

    Thanks … I usually avoid combo meds because I can't tailor the dose for me. I'm the size of a skinny 12 year old, so I need a skinny 12-year-old's dose of Tylenol or decongestant or antihistamine.

  • Jen

    If the mucus is originating in the sinuses (I often find that anything that feels like it might be bronchitis or a chest cold is actually from the post nasal drip from my sinuses), I find that doing sinus rinses helps quite a bit.

  • Mandy

    Gigi, How did I not see this topic?! I am the Mucous Queen!  A super power if you will. I have noticed that there are many forms and combos For me coughing and mucous are my primary issues. I've got the flare cough, the bronchi cough, the bronchiole cough, the postnasal drip cough, the sinus cough…I feel like the list goes on and on. For me the colour is the telling tale and/or the consistency from where it came. After my bronchoscopy, my Doc told me that I had mucous plugs through out…and I seriously think along the way, I have coughed a few out on my own.

    What I do to combat or lessen the mucous, I avoid dairy which has really seemed to help for me. I also have my "sludge" drink of lemon, honey, ginger and cayenne. Not sure if it makes a huge difference but it sure soothes the sore throat from coughing. I only take Mucinex when I can feel my lungs filling up and can't get it out. I find it irritating otherwise. When the coughing fits are bad, I do relaxation breathing exercises (if I can) and a lot of self talk. Focusing on the reality that the mucous always comes out and that it'll get better when it does. Otherwise, it's really scary to cough and feel the "mucous trap" as I call it.

  • K8sMom2002

    Mandy, I'm like you — those mucus plugs are for the birds! And I hate coughing because each cough seems to beget MORE coughing and can trigger an asthma attack (or at least it seems that way to me.)

  • Gloria

    I call mine "lung glue".

    Yesterday I was doing some gardening when I started to cough. I felt something projectile out of my throat. Although this, unfortunately, happens rather frequently, sometimes I know not where it lands and other times I have to spit it out onto a tissue.

    Well, yesterday, unbeknownst to me, it landed on the handle of my watering can. I picked up the watering can and felt something incredibly viscous and slimy. Eeew! It spread out, attached itself to my hand and returned to a globular shape. I had never actually touched this stuff before, so it really freaked me out. 

    I have probably had just about every lung test known to man, and I know that the only thing wrong with my lungs originates from asthma, but it was definitely weird and scary.

    Please explain "mucus plugs", why they exist and where they tend to originate.

    I will see my Pulmonologist tomorrow, so maybe I should find out what can be done to alleviate this. As mentioned above, I really don't want more meds, but it seems that it would be better to get as few ingredients in any medicine as necessary.

  • Kathy P

     on the goo landing on the handle! Yuck!

    I had really thick mucus yesterday too – not sure why. I would sneeze and wind up with little mucus balls coming out. Nasty! I tend to cough or sneeze into my elbow if possible, but then I have gunk on shirt or skin!

    Definitely ask the pulmo! I'm not sure why they form either. I use an expectorant to try to thin them out per my doc's instructions.  Which reminds me, need to go take some!

  • Gloria

    I had a pretty bad asthma attack the day prior, due to a fragrance assault. I was not surprised that this event followed it a day later.

  • Mandy

    I been told that the mucous plugs aka "hairball…lung butter…glue" accumulate because of granulation build up in the airways when uncontrolled. Think gravity. They tend to build up where ever they can. Nastiness! I can always tell the difference. Other Doc's laugh when asking about my mucous. I always say "it depends where it's coming from". There is a difference. The plugs are exhausting to get out. And I too am unablessed to find them too Gigi. Sorry yours mischievously found its way on your hand.

    Sorry about the mucous build up Cynthia. Hopefully, it doesn't amount to much.

  • K8sMom2002

    Gloria, that's a good question about how mucus plugs form. I have no idea … the first I ever heard of a mucus plug was when I was in mid asthma attack in a doctor's office and explained the feeling to him. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Eh, it's a mucus plug that's caught in a fork in your bronchial tubes." 

    What did your doctor say? And did he give you any advice about a good plan of attack?

    Mandy, that's very interesting about why they form … who knew?!

  • GigiGibson

    I had one yesterday too. Thankfully I spit in the sink. Ewwe.  Mine come from tapering, always. They can be dangerous. 

  • Gloria

    Yesterday when I went in to see my pulmo, the reason for my visit was to talk to him about disability. Unfortunately, I didn't even see him. I saw his assistant. I did not get an opportunity to talk about mucus plugs due to the nature of my visit. Most of his patients have more serious lung problems. I think that other than the diagnostic things that he accomplished, he is not the right doctor for my asthma. Although I have no allergies, only sensitivities, perhaps I should go to an allergist. I had a good allergist, but she moved on , so I would have to find a new one.

    One thing that is very anomalous with me from a pulmonary standpoint is that when I do the 6 minute walking test, my 02 sat plummets to the upper 80's, but as I continue to exercise, it raises back up to 98 or 99% within a couple of minutes. In fact, if I were to get my 02 and start it up, my sat will already have returned to normal by the time I get started.  When I addressed this with the pulmonologist, his response was only, "that's weird". It seems that I am a person riddled with medical anomalies. No one seems to know why this 02 sat thing happens. I thought maybe it was due to my transverse myelitis, but I had a brain MRI and everything looked relatively fine.  I'm always the one with weird problems. I have come to a dead end in pursuing that one. The 02, however, does come in really handy for perfume assaults.

    Anyway, perhaps an allergist would be better at treating my asthma.  Truly though,I am so tired of seeing new doctors. In the last year I was seen by my PCP, an Allergist, a Pulmonologist, Cardiologist, ENT, Neurologist, Rheumatologist, Hemotologist and many testing facilities. Besides having Asthma, I have a rare autoimmune disease (Antiphospholipid Syndrome) that caused a rare neurological disfunction (Transverse Myelitis) 10 years ago, but that's a whole other story. 

  • K8sMom2002

    I hear you on all those specialists, Gloria, and I double-hear-ya on the frustration a lay person has when you lay out a mystery symptom and the only response is, "Well, that's weird." I don't want "weird." I want answers. 

    I'm sorry that you didn't get to see the doctor yesterday. Was the assistant at least helpful with the disability paperwork? 

  • Gloria

    She found me to be an interesting case, but per the Pulmo, her report will be forwarded to the PCP, who should be managing my situation. I will call the Pulmo and request that they send me a copy of their report.

    absolutely, K8SMOM. I'm tired of weird.

  • K8sMom2002

    I hope your PCP can give you some direction — and I hear you on getting a copy of the report!

  • GigiGibson

    Welcome to the weird club. My endocrine guy told me something weird was wrong with me last month, lol. It's so frustrating. 

  • Jen

    It would be nice if they could give you some idea about what the "wrong" or "weird" is, huh?

    btw (by the way), all this talk about mucous plugs has visions of the Mucinex dude in my head. lol

  • Gloria

    That would be nice, Jen, but then it wouldn't be weird, would it?

    Funny, the MUcinex cartoon guy…

  • Kathy P

    Hugs Gloria- it's hard being the zebra when docs know how to treat horses. 

    And I totally visualize the Mucinex mucus blob when I have a junky cough…like now! 

  • K8sMom2002

    Gloria, hopefully once they figure things out, it won't be weird — it will be, "Ah, yeah, THAT explains it!" 

    Kathy, hope you can conquer Mr. Mucus Blob!

  • Gloria

    K8SMOM, I don't think they are anywhere near figuring it out. I am in uncharted medical territory with yet another rare symptom. My other problem, Antiphospholid Syndrome, was only recognized around 2006 and Transverse Myelitis was recognized in the later parts of the 1990s, I believe.

  • Jen

    Gloria – you're a unicorn!  Unicorns are way better than the mucous blob things.

  • Jen

    Just trying to phrase things in a positive way.  That and a little humor tend to be some of my more commonly used coping mechanisms.

  • Gloria

    It seems funny, Jen…and cute. Makes me feel special instead of just unfortunate.

  • K8sMom2002

    Gloria, I can assure you, you ARE special! I shall now forevermore picture you as a graceful white unicorn, with glittery rainbows trailing in your wake.

    Why, yes, it hasn't been that long since I had a middle school tween who loved unicorns, sparkles and rainbows!  

  • K8sMom2002

    Glad I could make you smile … hopefully Mr. Mucus Blob will not be bothering you for a while!

  • Gloria

    No, It was sent over to my computer but I can't open the document. Thanks for the reminder. I will call them tomorrow.

  • Shea

    Hmmm.. maybe an immunologist would be a good specialist to try? They are usually familiar with pulmonology and allergy, but they look at the immune system as a whole. And.. maybe at a university, if possible, because they are often very up to date on new issues and medications, and have fresh minds working with experienced minds.

  • K8sMom2002

    Hope you can get some feedback on that report, Gloria!

    And Shea, good suggestion! My DD's allergist/immunologist says that her specialty requires her to be a detective … she's trying to convince my DD to pursue that when she grows up, since DD has told her she wants to go into the healthcare field.

  • Gloria

    Great idea, Shes, but I doubt if my insurance would be willing to send me to yet another specialust. I am also very tired of seeing so many specialists. I'm a bit punch-drunk from it, actually.

    I suspect that the variation in my 02 sat is due to something neurological, but there are still many mysteries regarding rare condition in the human body.

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs, Gloria … BTDT as far as having my "doctor-quotient" filled. It's really hard to coordinate care between so many doctors, so I get that. 

  • GigiGibson

    Ugh. I feel ya Gloria. I was in ultra. A place I have avoided for two months because number one I didn't care, number two I was broke and number three feeling like crap. Well I finally ran out of two things so I talk myself into smash, grab, exit. A lady comments on how cute my mask is and where did I get it? Her daughter sure would have liked that when she had cancer. ..   ..  ..

    so I tell her and say I'm sorry your dtr had cancer….. she talked for over half hour to tell me the story from 1 year old to now at 25 years old. My knees were screaming, neck tingling , shoulder numb. Ohhhh my. But she needed to tell it I guess.  Her dtr is in remission FYI. 

    So she mentioned how of all the docs and hospital visits when she was a toddler there was one 3 Rd year student who suggested a ct and found the dx of her first problem of sinus deformities. Had nothing to do with cancer in college but I heard all about it. 

    So, as I said to my bestie last night… maybe there will be one solitary person somewhere who will say "hey there was this one patient I had who had adult onset asthma that got worse and….." and maybe they won't say she died, lol. But say " we found that she also had _____ and when we got that under control she improved".

    Hey but until and unless someone says that it's been one scratched head and puzzled doc after another. It's a drag. Kathy I know u have to advocate but u know how we feel too. We have to live it and they don't know what to do about it. Hugs to all of us()

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs, Gigi! I can't imagine being stuck in a cosmetic store, listening to a story that went on for very long! You had a great heart to listen to this lady share her story!

    And here's hoping that you will find someone who will supply that missing piece, that final clue. 

    Hey, it can happen … something like that happened with us and our DD. So I have hope that one day it will happen for you!

    BTW, did you get what you needed from Ulta??

  • Kathy P

    Have you managed to get the report Gloria?

    Mucus is definitely one my big issues. I'm just an expert mucus producer (what's your superpower?). Doc added another inhaler (yay me!) that is supposed to help with excess mucus production. It works on the parasympathetic nervous system vs other bronchodialators like albuterol that work on the sympathetic nervous system. When I first started taking it, I was coughing all.the.time and had just a junky, wet cough. I had really thick globs coming up. But now that I've been taking it for about a week, my chest congestion seems to be easing up. I'm still coughing, but it's more that post nasal drip tickle cough and not the deep, chesty, junky cough. So, fingers crossed that I've found the missing piece of the puzzle!

  • Gloria

    Kathy, I'm happy for you that you found something that is helping you. What is the name of the med? Just curious. I have lung glue after an asthma attack. No asthma attack, no lung glue. 

    I went several days with no problems, then, bam! Four people came in with fragrance within two days. The second one was a woman who had used so much scent that even using oxygen didn't help. That was three days ago; and my lungs still hurt.

    I got in touch with the Pulmo office. They started to give me the run-around, so I talked to the manager. Let me say here that I worked in medical for many years, although I no longer do. The manager said HIPPA required me to sign a waiver for me to get my own records. Not true! So then she said that it was their policy, so I had to sign a darned waiver before she would send them! Grrrrr…. I live pretty far from their office, so I sent it in on Monday. Hopefully I will get the notes soon. It is actually probably rather inconsequential since my PCP is really the one whom Disability would be contacting. I guess I just want to know. 

    I'm supposed to hear back from disability this month. We'll see. If it is denied, I don't think I can make it for another one year seven months. I will take my early retirement after my vacation (10 days) in mid August and file a new claim for disability to fill in the gap until I am 66. It was a cruel joke that the government did to raise the retirement age by a year last January.

     

  • Jen

    Gloria – Frustrating, but sounds like you have a good plan either way.