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Lower Left Chest Pain and Thick Flem(phlegm) coughed up with 1st swallo...
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Lower Left Chest Pain and Thick Flem(phlegm) coughed up with 1st swallow of food

Sometimes, much to my surprise (because I don't feel the congestion), when I swallow my 1st bite of food it does not go down.  I begin choking and it doesn't stop until I cough up thick gooey clear to white flem (phlegm), sometimes more than both of my hands can hold.  The flem (phlegm) is quite sticky.  Plus, I have pain on the lower far left Chest area.  I have to be careful when choking not to bend forward too much or the pain becomes grippingly painful (keeping me from staightening up).  Actually sometimes I do not even have to be choking, just bending over to pick up the soap I dropped in the shower caused pain so great, I couldn't straighten up for a while and when I did, it continued to hurt for over an hour.  There have been a couple of times that the pain lasted much longer.  I do not understand why there would be so much thick heavy flem (phlegm) and I would be totally unaware of it until that 1st bite of food is blocked by it.  Sometimes I do not automatically start coughing, but the food just won't go down and I realize that to get rid of the discomfort, I must cough up the flem (phlegm).  What is causing this?
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You will need to have a thorough exam and testing to know what is causing the thick phlegm and chest pain.  You should have your pharynx or throat examined from your mouth to your esophagus.  Your larynx or voice box should also be examined.  This includes your vocal cords and the upper part of your windpipe.  Then you should have a barium swallow test to look for problems with your throat or esophagus that might allow for a build-up of phlegm.  Your sinuses should also be examined as a possible source of excessive phlegm that drains into your throat.  The chest pain described should be evaluated separately by a pulmonologist.
8 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
It sounds to me like the same symptoms my mother used to have when she was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux. Her esophagus was narrowed at the bottom and she had to have a gastroscopy to widen the opening. She's been on Prilosec/Nexium/Prevacid (one of the three) ever since then (early 90's), and this medication, coupled with elevation of the head of her bed, controls the situation very well.

The GI doc explained to me that the opening should have been the size of a garden hose, but was narrowed down to half that. This is where the food would hang up, causing the gagging and coughing. It got to the point where she couldn't eat very well and had to take itsy bitsy bites to make sure they'd go down. Raw food such as vegetables and salad would always get hung up and she had to quit eating it.

Do not delay - see your doctor and/or GI specialist ASAP. This is not normal. The acid splashing on your esophagus can lead to cell changes over time (Barrett's esophagus).

http://www.nationaljewish.org/medfacts/reflux.html

Here is the National Jewish Medical Center page on reflux.

http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/

This page gives a lot of non-commercial information about GERD.

Good luck.


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Avatar_n_tn
i thing 'phlegm' would mean mucous specifically from the upper repiritory area - nose and sinus. I'd have thought you be coughing a lot if you had exceess phlegm. Could it rather be from the digestive system - bile? When you 'cough it up' are you coughing from the lungs/throat or actually vomitting from the stomache/esophagus?
i used to have a post nasal drip - excess respiritory mucous - when i got up I'd have a lot of coughing and that led to vomiting acid. I also had GERD which was fixed with a op to tighten the lower esophagal sphinchter (where it meets the stomache). The certainly stopped the acid problems. Food allergies caused the excess mucous (soy, wheat, gluten).
I used to get reflux mainly when I bent over. Symptoms were sharp pain and burning. Symptoms when not bending over were just pain. Get thee to a specialst and get it checked out. Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have a problem that sound something like yours.  When I eat or drink pop I get a feeling of a ball of plemg caught in my throat on my right side and have to cough it up and it is as you said thick whit sticky stuff.  I don't have pain other than from excessive coughing gives me a sore throat.  I think I am coughing up tons of plemg from my chest that has no where to go when more from my sinuses piles up on it.  It's anightmare I don't know what to do Iv'e seen ENT and allery Dr's and they can't figure out why this is happening. Best of luck to you I hope your problem resolves.
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Avatar_n_tn
I had no luck with a gastroenterologist (fair enough) or several GPs. The allergy specialist did scratch tests and I only had a mild reaction to pollen - he suggested 3 years of allergy shots for that. I didn't think it was the problem (didn't seem like hay fever, dhich I've had before but not for a few years). I can't remember now if I did a blood test for allergies or not. I've read you can have a 'gluten sensitivty' that gives you post nasal drip but the blood tests don't show anything. I think this is where I'm at - by avoiding wheat, gluten and soy I'm breathing, sleeping, doing everything normally. One wheat biscuit or a splash or soy on me stirfry and I'm back to staying awake half the night spitting out mucous and couging. One small bit of one biscuit is enough to start me off. I think I may discover another food sensitivity soon, but I'm unbelievably better now so I'm sticking to the avoidance regime. I only got onto the wheat thing accidentaly - talked to someone who knew someone with the same symptoms and I tried avoiding wheat and I was better the first day. Hope you can find something simple at the bottom of your probs. I know the chest pains were pretty concerning until I learned to suck out the mucous before it went down.
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Avatar_n_tn
I never thought of a food allergy I was tested for allergy but not for food allergies.  The wheat thing sounds intriging since I do eat cereal , bread (wheat) cracker etc often .  That will be hard to avoid but worth a try .  thanks for the advice of a possible connection.
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Avatar_n_tn
SOUNDS LIKE ACOD REFLUX,MY 10 YEAR OLD WAS VERY SICK FOR MONTHS WITH CHRONIC COUGH AND EXCESSIVE PHLEGM,TURNED OUT TO BE SINUS DISEASE,ACID REFLUX AND AN INFECTED ESOPHAGUS,SPENT 2 WEEKS IN HOSPITAL BUT THE ACID REFLUX WAS WORST WHEN EATING I DO REMEBER THAT-HOPE YOU GET YOUR ANSWERS-LITTLEVICK0
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Avatar_n_tn
Try soda without corn syrup and do some feldenkrais exercises or Hanna Somatics.  Tape  #4 of Anat Baniels Neck pain really helped me and is cheaper than a craniel sacral massage or going to an osteopath.  I am going to try some somatic movements  for the head neck and skull next.  What I always used to help me was going to Costa Rica for two weeks to ride the waves.  Analizing this years later I think it was the radical diet change, sweating, walking and swimming and lying on my back in the sand with my knees up too exhausted to move I did small slow movements naturally then got on my hands and knees and my sinuses cleared.  In costa rica rice is cheap bread is hard to find, Coca cola is made with sugar cane cause it's cheaper.  Fruits grow all over plenty of them and so fresh.  So fresh food is cheaper than processed food in Costa Rica, that's what I ate.  It's hot I sweat, everything is bueatiful so you walk around to see it, uphill and down on natural terrain.  Sun light vitamin D, no need for milk, no milk no flem (phlegm).   walking on beach sand clears out many toxins especially in shallow salty water.  So go to beach or lake or volley ball court build a sand castle pausing many times changing positions, put some cotton in your ears roll around build a sand chair bury the old and regain your youthful.
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