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Had upper right lobe removed Nov 2007 due to stage 1 cancer. All pet scans are clear and x-rays clear still I have a cough that sometimes is that of a heavy smoker. Coughing brings up clear mucus. Other than this cough I feel great.
Any suggestions on how to take care of the cough?
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Avatar universal

I would like to add to the thread here.  Can the phlegm create nausea?  My Mom says she feels sick in the mornings and doesn't feel better until after she coughs up all of her thick, clear phlegm.  She had her left lower lobe removed seven weeks ago.  She has COPD (mild) prior to surgery.  She had the same problem with the excess phlegm before surgery, but it didn't make her sick.  She takes atrovent, pro air and spiriva.  She also takes carafate for the nausea.  Do you have any other suggestions how to treat the nausea.  Can you think of what may be causing the nausea other than the phlegm? Thanks again for your kind replies.  

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Avatar universal

Its good that the surgery seems to be successful.

Was the cough present even before the surgery? Even before there was a diagnosis of cancer and the surgery was planned?

The normal lining of the lung clears phlegm by lifting it up and delivering it down the esophagus (you can think of this as the food pipe). The normal situation then is that, phlegm is swallowed in small, regulated amounts that it is entirely automatic (there is no need to push it down voluntarily in the manner of swallowing a lump of food).

Smoking destroys the lining, and hence to clear phlegm – the lungs must cough it out. Hence, the cough may be persistent. This is likely the case, as the phlegm is usually colorless.

Smokers may also have chronic obstructive lung disease, with excess phlegm production as a key feature. This could be helped by drugs that can allow improved flow through the compromised airways.

The surgery itself may be traumatic to the lung tissue. With healing however, the cough would improve.

As you can see, there are a number of factors here, some of which may mean that complete resolution may not be likely. For most patients however, the cough can be sufficiently controlled to afford a more active lifestyle.

Have yourself re-examined. Prior to the surgery, a visit to a pulmonary doctor may have been done in preparation for the procedure. A return visit may be in order.

Stay positive.
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