Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
Acute respiratory symptoms
About This Forum:

This forum is for questions and support regarding lung and respiratory issues. such as: Allergies, Asthma, Bronchitis, Colds - Flu, Chronic Cough, COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, Emphysema, Fibrosis, Lung Abscess, Nasal Polyps, Pleurisy, Pneumonia, Sarcoidosis, Sinusitis, Tuberculosis.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Blank Blank

Acute respiratory symptoms

Some time ago my father, who has smoked heavily for close to 60 years was diagnosed with COPD. He quit smoking five months ago when he underwent major surgery for an abdominal aneurysm. He  now is continually coughing up large amounts of mucous. It is often green or brown in colour. He is also having trouble breathing and gasps for breath as though he just finished a long run. Doctors have repeatedly x-rayed his chest and pronounced it to be clear and open. He has no fever but was given two rounds of antibiotics. The symptoms persist despite the antibiotics. I read a study awhile ago that said people such as my father who have smoked heavily for such a long time should be discouraged from quitting because of the severe respiratory symptoms that will follow. I have two questions. What could be causing these symptoms? Will resumption of smoking decrease his symptoms?

Thanks in advance.

Sid Freeman
Related Discussions
251132_tn?1198082422
In the healthy lung there are small hair-like projections called cilia that clean the lungs by moving mucus up and out.  Smoking paralyzes this cleaning system.  When your father quit smoking his lungs began to recover from the inflammation caused by close to 60 years of smoking abuse.  This inflammation is causing your father
3 Comments
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Sid,

First lets start with the easiest posrtion of your question. If your dad starts smoking again, it WILL NOT make his symptoms better. Not sure where you read that "study", its nothing but 100% bunk.

The symtpoms your dad is experiencing is what COPD is all about. BEcausze of the cigarette smoke, lung tissue has been destroyed. since there is less lung tissue to absorb oxygen, what ever he is able to take in, is used up quickly leaving him gasping for more. I like to describe to my COPD patients that their lungs are like a automobile gas tank. A person who has healthy lungs can fill up their gas tank to FULL. Someone with COPD can only fill up their gas tank to the 1/2 way mark. Their tank empties much quicker and holds less gas.

His sputum production is also characteristic of COPD. Brown, green, yellow sputum. Some is infection and some is just dirty sputum. Cigarette smoke destroys the cillia in the lungs. Cillia are microscopic hairs that wiggle along the lining of the bronchial tubes. These hairs wave back and forth moving sputum closer to the top of the lungs. When the sputum reaches a spot, we cough it out. This is called the mucocilliary escalator. COPD'ers do not have this. Sputum just sits in the linings of the bronchi. When smoke and every day pollution is inhaled, the depbris simply gets stuck in the sputum. When they finally get to cough it out, it doesnt look very pretty.

Andy, RRT, CPFT
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I have a similiar problem myself. However on a smaller scale. I smoked alot for about 6 years, and quit roughly 3-4 months ago. During my last 3-6 months of smoking prior to quitting, i was coughing up brown/blackish mucus. It was a daily occurance, quite often, almost every time i smoked and would cough. After i quit smoking, the amount of dark mucus declined substantially and almost dissapeared for the past 3 months or so. However recently, the dark phlegm has returned. Not much, but maybe a bad/nasty bout of it every 2-4 days. I don't cough often at all, and when i do cough, i usually do cough up that dark mucus.(cough about 2 times per week) Sometimes the amount of dark phlegm is small, and about once a week it is substantial. Like i said, this just began again recently- and i havent started to smoke again.
    Years ago i was diagnosed with bronchitis, and was told that it might be chronic bronchitis.
I am wondering if this dark mucus i am coughing up is normal considering i just quit 3-4 months ago, and how long the dark mucus cough up will persist?
    I have seen a doctor about it, and have gotten no real answer other then that it is probably a normal function and my lungs are repairing themselves. I have also had a chest x-ray and everything was "normal".

    Just wondering about this dark mucus, and weather i should be worried and see another specialist in the near future(I saw my GP last week) BTW- I also have minor chest pain every so often, but was told that was due to my excessive coughing before i quit smoking. Altho it seems that the chest pain dissapeared and then reappeared about 2-3 weeks after the brown mucus started up again. Also, is this illness infectous? Can i pass bronchitis or COPD onto others? (I am currently not sick, but am wondering for future referance)
Blank
Continue discussion Blank
This Forum's Experts
242587_tn?1355427710
David Tinkelman, M.D.Blank
National Jewish Health
Denver, CO
Blank
Request an Appointment
MedHelp Health Answers
Blank
Asthma Tracker
Asthma Tracker
Start Tracking Now
Blank
Allergy Tracker
Allergy Tracker
Start Tracking Now
RSS Expert Activity
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Emotional Eating Control: How to St...
Aug 28 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
233488_tn?1310696703
Blank
New Cannabis Article from NORTH Mag...
Jul 20 by John C Hagan III, MD, FACS, FAAOBlank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
3 Reasons Why You are Still Binge E...
Jul 14 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank