will the phlegm disappear after radiation?


Will the phlegm (mucus) disappear after the radiation is over? And will I be able to swallow again?''


  • Sprint Car Dude
    Sprint Car Dude Member Posts: 181

    Sure it will. It just seems like it may take for ever to go away. One day you will wake up and it will be gone. And of course you will swallow again. Just keep drink liquids and practice swallowing the whole way through your treatment.

  • nancytc
    nancytc Member Posts: 70 Member
    It does resolve itself!


    For me, the mucous was the worst side effect of treatment and I had plenty of horrible side effects. I had 33 rounds of radiation and 2 megadoses of Cisplatin (missed the 3rd dose as my hearing was being wiped out). Stage 4a SCC rt tonsil. It was so bad at times that I could only sleep 15 minutes at a time, had to be sitting up as it seemed like it never stopped coming up 24/7. If I didnt hack it out, it collected at the base of my tongue and I would gag me and I would vomit. I constantly gargled with baking soda and water, and salt water to break it up. I always had to have my Red Plastic Cup with me to spit in.This went on for about 6 weeks. I remember thinking that if it did not subside that life would not be worth living in that state. But just as my nutritionist and oncologist predicted, it got better almost overnight. My world opened back up for me!!! Hang in there. I promise you it WILL get better.


  • OKCnative
    OKCnative Member Posts: 326 Member
    edited May 2018 #4
    Ha, NancyTC, my calling card

    Ha, NancyTC, my calling card was my ever present red Solo cup. I only wish I could have gone 15 minutes between coughing and spitting fits. I literally might go 3 minutes at one point and that lasted for days. Literally it just magically went away all of a sudden.

    As for swallowing.... Most people I know eventually began to swallow again with ranging success or 'normalcy'. Most people I know that did not use a PEG tube returned to swallowing solid foods very quickly. I was eating chips and spicy salsa within 3 weeks post treatment.

    Good luck to you!

  • AlreadyOne
    AlreadyOne Member Posts: 9
    Yes - Sort of

    Hi Lou1001, I am 15 months out after 30 rounds of radiation and 5 cisplatin treatments. Like all the rest and like you, I had a lot of phlem that really got in the way of enjoying my life. Even though I too had a PEG tube in, I was still swallowing so did not loose that. However, after all this time, I do still have a fair bit of phlem that results in my having to clear my throat like a truck driver. But, my saliva is 88% normal and I can eat spicy food. Unlike OKCnative, that took about a year to accomplish. I believe the lack of saliva results in a more sensitive mouth environment. It all gets better. Believe me. It does.

  • AnotherSurvivor
    AnotherSurvivor Member Posts: 383 Member
    Yes, mostly.

    Yes, mostly.

    Phlegm is a biofilm secreted by the radiation damaged tissue, so is the swelling.  It is actually happening to repair and protect, and the volume is telling you lots of things about the extent of damage the radiation is doing.   That's of course a good thing because if it's tough on you it's tougher on tumors.  Eventually the damaging stops and so does the phlegm and swelling.  Timing may vary.  Mine dropped dramatically in a couple of weeks after last rad hit.

    Fast forward 17 months to this April.  I got a common run-of-the-mill head cold.  Sore throat, stuffy nose.  Suddenly phlegm was back.  Not close to what it was, but enough to be annoying.  Exquisitely well timed, I was doing a 'backpacker' tour of Europe, traveling 'lite', barely had underwear, had to forage for all medical supplies.  I highly recommend Google Translate, the new 'don't leave home without it'.   I dealt with the cold, it passed, but mucusites didn't.  I finally got rid of it with salt and soda gargle and hitting the reserve stash of magic mouthwash when I got home.   My suspicion is that the tissue damage in my throat, tho not painful and otherwise normally not noticable, is either taking a very long time to heal, or is now a permanent feature.  Regular post exams by Oncs and ENTs say I had an otherwise good recovery, so it makes me think I now have a permanent feature.

    Good news is that lots of walking combined with a regular diet of wine, cheese, and sausage seems to temporarily reduce neck lymphedema, also something of a new permanent feature.

  • Alpinelife
    Alpinelife Member Posts: 12
    Yes it gets better

    As with others I suffered with oceans of phlegm after radiation. In about three weeks it faded, and with the aid of salt/baking soda gargle I was able to make it through, as will you. Best of luck - life does get better..