I too suffer similar symptoms, and have found this page to be INVALUABLE. Thank you ALL for sharing you pain with me. I feel a LOT less stressed about it now that I know more about it. Briefly, I have the gag problem, along with that feeling that I have something in the back of my throat that I just can't seem to get at. Just thinking about it makes it worse...
This is what I am doing now that seems to be helping. I'll update you guys in a couple days to let you know how this regimen is working.
1) I set a pan of water on the stove and let it boil.
2) While it's boiling, I get out fresh pineapple. Canned will not work as well, so I get mine fresh from the local salad bar (costs quite a bit, though). Another option is to prepare the pineapple yourself. "Pineapple is a boon to asthmatics and sinus sufferers. The key element in pineapple is the bromelain. Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme that breaks down proteins. It can aid the body heal from bronchitis and pneumonia as well. Fresh pineapple properties also act as anti-inflammatory agents, which can also reduce the swelling in air passages, making breathing easier and aiding in elimination." - Valerie Goswick Hegwood
It's fascinating, and hey, IT WORKS.
3) If that doesn't help, I gargle. Warm, salty water works best. The warm liquid helps thin the mucous and the salt breaks it up further. Try not to swallow too much, though. And ALWAYS replace lost fluids by drinking more water (get water from a clear source. Sometimes tap water is polluted. Don't ask.)
4) What about the pan of water? Now is when I go to the pan and put my face close to the hot steam and breathe it in. Be careful! Staying in the steam too long or getting too close could cause you harm. Everything in moderation. But also, this moistens the air as well, which is another good thing about it.
5) Take long, calm breaths. See if you can do it over the steam (but, again, be careful). If not, I do this. Close your eyes and breathe. Relax. It helps more than coughing, although I understand those times when we just can't help it.
Medications prescribed to you by your doctor help too, but they are not a long term solution. Try these home remedies along with any other treatment that your doctor prescribes until you get back on your feet. The science behind it is solid and proven, although everyone is different. :)
Have fun, guys! It was great to read everyone's story!