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Heavy thick mucus particularly first thing in the morning
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Heavy thick mucus particularly first thing in the morning

Hello. My problem is a bit of a Catch 22 one really.  I am in remission from throat cancer. This was 5 years ago and had maximum amount of radiotherapy. Surgeon still hasnb't signed me off because of loads of scar tissue which give contradictory messages.
Because of swallowing always being a problem since RT I eat masses and masses of dairy products to keep my weight up as I can't swallow meat and pasta.
Vegetables, lentils, completely pureed are fine as long as I have plenty of water.  
Every morning I have thick phlegm which keeps me coughing up for about half-an-hour. No pain. But  until I get rid of it I can't swallow.
Now I read that the dairy products may be causing the thick mucus. If I don't eat that, which I enjoy, particuoarly full fat yoghurts and cream cheese, how will I keep my weight up!
I am 55, female, generally healthy apart from this, and weigh about 104 pounds. My height is 5'5''. Any help with the mucus and diet greatly appreciated.    Thank you. Rosalie
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The fat content in dairy products can thicken mucus that is already present.  Generally eating dairy products with less fat content is helpful.  Drinking plenty of water will help to thin the mucus so that it moves more easily.  As long as you are not on a fluid restriction you should be drinking 6 to 8 8-ounce glasses of non-caffeine non-alcoholic fluid daily.

If you are interested trying a short experiment, reduce or eliminate dairy products from your diet for a couple of days.  Then observe how this effects your morning phlegm.  If it appears to make a difference, you might want to try soy dairy products.  If you have not already worked with a dietician, one may have other suggestions to help you.

It may be that the phlegm is originating in your lungs.  Talk with your doctor to see if the routine use of a mucus clearance device might be helpful in clearing your thick phlegm.  This is a small device that you exhale into causing a vibration in your lungs that loosen mucus so that you can cough it up easier.  The names of 2 types of devices are Flutter Valve and Acapella.

Another source of the phlegm could be postnasal drip.  This is drainage from the nose and sinuses dripping down the back of the throat.  This would explain the way you feel in the morning.  Talk with your doctor to know if this is a problem for you.  A nasal wash helps remove mucus from your nose and sinuses.  It is most helpful when done daily before using any nasal spray.  A prescription nasal steroid spray decreases mucus production by decreasing the inflammation of the nose and sinuses.  This may prevent the postnasal drip.  A nasal steroid spray does not provide immediate relief of symptoms.  It may require several weeks of routine use to become effective.  Please read our Nasal Wash MedFact at http://www.nationaljewish.org/medfacts/nasal.html for more information about this technique.  Share this information with your doctor to see if you would benefit from this daily treatment.
12 Comments
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my son has just come home from being admitted to hospital for a day with suspected flu and coughing with heavy mucus and blood from his lung infection. (Its winter here in australia).
They gave him ceclor or keflex antibiotic tablets I think.
A Dr. said to drink plenty (Lots)of fluid to thin the mucus so you can cough it up and definately avoid dairy products as they make mucus. His GP sent a sample of the phlegm that he was coughing up to be analysed to see what the actual name of the bug was. (I think you should ask for this).
He is still recovering at home and his fevers he had in the hospital have gone and now the aches are going but he still has a bit of phlegm and cough. I am taking him back today to have him checked again. I must tell you that I threatened to remove him from the hospital if the Dr.didnt prescribe antibiotics after 4 days of fevers, shakes etc as he was only being given panadol in hospital. Once he started on the antibiotics he started to recover quickly and his x-ray showed a right lobe infection.My local Dr.said 2 days ago how lucky the Dr.caught it so quickly and prescribed the antibiotic. (I never made a comment). Sometimes mums just know.
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Hello there from Boadicea's place--Colchester, UK. Thank you for replying, Sparkle and glad your son is getting better with the antibiotics. But you have confirmed this worry I have about dairy products. Does anyone know if soya products have the same beneficial effects as dairy food to keep my weight in a respectable above-starvation bracket.
It is so strangwe to thin k of you in winter, justbas it must be for you to think of us getting all hot and bothered in this normally temperate p[lace!
Regards and thanks.      Rosalie
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Oh dear. I'd forgotten that I was i-ishbel! How on earth I don't know. Well you can call me that or
Rosalie!
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Have you tried nutritional supplements like Ensure?
http://www.ensure.com/

http://www.ensure.com/SpecialHealthConcerns/Home.asp
Nutrition for Special Health Concerns

http://www.ensure.com/OurProducts/EnsureFAQ.asp
Ensure FAQ
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Yes thanks, Ellis. Ensure is my favourits, Ensure Plus, particularly the coffee one, cold from the fridge. It is a lifesaver. Trouble is it doesn't put on the weight though although it keeps you alive!
Last night was disastrous for example. Cod in a whiote sauce and blended along with blended broccoli. I hadn't done the broccoli quite finely enough and that got me coughingand just endd uyp with tears of frustration I'm afraid. These things really take hours to prepare.Today I am going to stick to somethbng I know is OK. Homemade mushroom soup.It's a very old recipe which uses bread instead of flour for thickening. Although the texrture isn't as creamy as I like, at least there is some carb going somewhere!
Ishbel
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I have been where you are with that swallowing. I got through it with mashed potatoes & gravy with butter, oatmeal, baby food, creamed soup, bread soaked in gravy, mush, boiled vegetables minced in a blender and just about anything I could mash to a creamery food.
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Thanks for your advice. You obviously know what a pain it is!And guess what. I had NEVER thought of baby foods. I am going on a picnic thing tomorrow which I can't get out of and was wonderinfg what on earth to bring. I will pop into the corner chmist and get some little jars of Heinz or whatever. Worth trying!
Tonight was a little triumph. I managed to eat a slice of ox tongue along with minced courgette and potato with clarifie4d butter. The jelly on the tongue made it easier to eat. It took a while but was an exciting change.  Followed by the usual ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce. Forcing it down to get these scales up.
But I've made an appt to see a dieticial next week about soya things and if they contain the same protein top try to loosen this mucus.
Isn't it a pity 'mucus' wasn't called 'daffodils' or 'ferns'. Wouldn't sound quite so revolting!!
Ishbel
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Hi

Sorry about your trouble, I understand the frustration, not personally but seeing a friend trying to swallow, (they mostly ate alone, though)I am wondering although it isn't quite related but as an Asthmatic I too was warned off dairy products because of the excess mucus ( or daffodils!!)but I wasn't put off Goat products - I am not a milk lover - but goats cheese (you should be able to get softer varieties)is lovely and I believe goat's milk is a good alternative to cows - Maybe it is something you could discuss with your dietician - You could also try smoothies - mixed with goats yogurt - to give you that extra boost of nutrients - puree banannas, and other fruit or veg.
Baby food isn't the most apetizing - but mashed potatoes creamed with goats milk/cheese should provide a good dose of carbs and is very comforting.

Regards
Jane
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Hello Jane. You are so-o-o- right about the baby food. It was pretty icky. No wonder it used to be such a job pushing it into their little mouths. They hated it!
Yes I do like goat's milk and have goat's yoghurt regularly but, thinkibg abouyt it, haven't for a coupld of months and the mjucus has increased just recently.
So I'll get some in tomorrw. You were saying abput your friends eating alone.. I do out of preference. Even at my daughter's today I took the soup she'd made out into the garden. I know my grandchildren try not to look but they're fascinated if I start spluttering. Livens up mealtimes!
Interesting about asthma being affected by dairy products. I'll look it up in my medical time tomorrow. Hypochondriac's delight. Not really. I never was until this lot...
Regards     Ishbel
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When I was with the Sheriff's Department I lost 86 lbs by eating baby food everyday, worked 8-10 hour days,  5-6 days a week and never felt any discomfort from that experience...don't sell it short! Not sure about you but when I was in need to swallow food to keep my energy up and stamina about me "taste" had very little influence on my food choices.
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I appreciate what you're saying woodsman. But maybe I just tried the wrong flavours. I might be more adventurous and go for Rice with Strawberries AND Pineapple. Trouble is that Pineapple ios too acidy!  Like you I'll try anything to keep my energy up.But with all this mucus everything is still linking to dairy foods. I have an appt with hospital dietician next week and if anythinfg intersting trns up I'll let you know.
Tonight was quite a treat. I blended some smoked salmon into a mush, and then separately blended marrow and garlic fried slowly in butter. That was nice but has given me earache!
Regards Ishbel
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