Finished with Rads!

Finished with both radiation and chemo (erbitux) and through the 2 week 'cooking' period and now I'm hoping to start feeling a little better. I have all the classic after effects, no saliva, dry mouth, no sense of taste, skin burns on my neck, sunburn like appearance to my upper chest and shoulders, fatigue and my all time favorite, gagging wads of mucus.

I'm hoping that someone might be able to tell me that the mucus issue will improve and hopefully soon. I've seen posts about suction machines, is there anything that I can do to thin down the phlegm and/or eliminate it? I saw a post about Mucinex, but didn't see anything else.

Sleeping is difficult as I wake up choking on balls of crud, I get about 2 hours at a time and then I'm up for an hour clearing the back up. What I wouldn't give for a full nights sleep.

How long might this last? How long before I get the chance to sleep so that I can wake up feeling just a little better?

On the plus side, the RO is very happy with the results (SCC base of tongue with left cervical lymph node stage IVa) as the nodes are no longer palpable, I have an appointment Wednesday with the ENT who found this earlier this year. I recall him saying that he'd re-evaluate after chemo/rads and determine if surgery would be necessary. I'm hoping that it will not be.

Thanks for listening all

Peter :-)


  • hwt
    hwt Member Posts: 2,328 Member
    After effects
    Sorry I can't be of help with the mucus questions but I have read of people needing to sleep propped up or in an easy chair. I feel fortunate to have missed that one. I'm sure others will be of help.
  • amy_h414
    amy_h414 Member Posts: 98
    you just need time
    My husband found that nothing really helped with the mucous. He tried a suction machine (hated it), mucinex (did nothing), benadryl (also did nothing for the mucous but it did help him sleep at night) and some prescription motion sickness patch that goes on the skin behind the ear. He said that one dried him up, but it was too much and made the mucous too thick to cough up. He is now about 4 weeks out from rads. He said the mucous just stopped one day around two weeks out. He's doing much better now, sleeping through the night but still coughing some due to a dry throat. He also slept propped up.

    So all I can tell you is that it'll just take some time. Hopefully, every day that passes will leave you feeling a bit better.
  • Sam999
    Sam999 Member Posts: 319 Member
    hwt said:

    After effects
    Sorry I can't be of help with the mucus questions but I have read of people needing to sleep propped up or in an easy chair. I feel fortunate to have missed that one. I'm sure others will be of help.

    Hi Peter,
    I am also going

    Hi Peter,

    I am also going thru mucus problem and there are no easy answers. Some nights are good for me and some are not! There is really no cure. Some nights I keep waking up, choking, coughing, throwing up! I had days where I would pretty much cough all night! I am doing following that helps sometimes:

    1. I sleep propped pretty much in sitting position with 5-6 pillows.
    2. I have cold mist humidifier next to my bed
    3. I tried mucinex but it burned my throat. There were some days where I could take it and helped sometimes and sometimes not so really not sure about it
    4. I use ora gel on side of my cheeks and tongue, this I think helps, sometimes I sleep 4-5 hours straight!
    5. I use stoppers 4 dry mouth spray if i wake up, this definitely helps.

    But yes, i am also sooooooo tired of this mucus, not sure when it will end of it will ever end!! About to post a question on this.

  • jim and i
    jim and i Member Posts: 1,788 Member
    It will get better. How long
    It will get better. How long before it gets better? It is different for each person. Musinex and cool mist vaporizer helped thin the mucous some.

  • NoDuck
    NoDuck Member Posts: 134
    Congrats Peter!
    It's great to get to the end of treatment but Hubby's like you -- when do you get to the end of the mucous?!?!

    As you will see in other posts on this site, some, like my hubby, have it so bad they cough until they throw up. That is our daily ritual. Nausea meds don't help. He can't tolerate any of the magic mouthwashes but does get relief from soda/salt rinses. RO recommended liquid guaifenesin. Commonly found in Robitussin but he cautioned against getting Robitussin with anyof the other remedies like cough suppressant. I found "Tussin" at Wal-mart which is strictly liquid guaifenesin. Good news is it can go straight into the peg tube. Bad news is it tastes bad whether via peg or mouth!

    Can't report on how effective it is but it is one of the many things that triggers a gag relex in Hubby.

    Good luck,

  • boardwalkgirl
    boardwalkgirl Member Posts: 269
    I had problems with the
    I had problems with the thick mucous off and on. They suggested at the radiation center to mix Adolph Meat Tenderizer Unflavored 1 tsp in 8 oz warm water and swish mouth and gargle with it. It did seem to help thin the mucous. Another suggestion they gave but I did not try was drinking papaya juice, something about the enzyme cut thru the mucous.
  • katenorwood
    katenorwood Member Posts: 1,912
    Sleeping in a recliner and a humidifier close by helped at night. But there were alot of sleepless nights. I did do the liquid lidocaine mixed with benedryl as I had issues with burns from rads., and pushed room temp., fluids. Cold anything made the gunk in my throat worse. I wish I had more to help you with, good luck, and positive thoughts for a quick conclusion to these issues ! Katie
  • Billie67
    Billie67 Member Posts: 898
    Just ahead of you
    I'm now at 5 weeks since rads and erbitux. The mucous is a bit better. I have found that during the day I take children's liquid advil (thru my tube but you could swallow). It's great for pain and swelling. At night I take my diaudid and it really dries up the mucous for the night. At least until about 5am ish! Then I take more advil. In the beginning I did take mucinex children's for cough and congestion. It did help with the coughing up part. My doctor said it's natures way of making a bandaid for the super sore area. He said if were all to be gone that area would be twice as sore. It's sort of helped me not be bothered as much by it.

    I hope that helps. It honestly does feel better now at 5 weeks than it did 2 weeks out. Good luck to you, I hope you find some relief.
  • CivilMatt
    CivilMatt Member Posts: 4,722 Member
    mystery of the mucus
    Hi Peter,

    I too am a radiation & Erbitux guy. I thought there were so few of us, but there seems to be more every day. You sound just like I remember except, my all time favorite was the neck burn (worst pain I had) and not the mucus, luck of the draw. As for the mucus and phlegm, I would go through a gag, rinse, gag, rinse ritual with the soda/salt mixture every night before bed. For me as soon as the dry heaves were over I would down a shot of magic mouth wash and jump in bed for 2 to 5 hours sleep (depending on when I had to pee, all the water you know).

    Sleep was my one refuge through this whole ordeal. Sometimes I did not get many straight hours sleep, but I always enjoyed those I got. Now it is not mucus or phlegm, it is just limited saliva. I put a couple of Xylimelts in at bedtime and sleep through the night and don’t wake up with a dry, dry mouth. It is not cured, but it works for me, plus there is a glass of water beside the bed.

    Taste is limited, but getting better. I had my first slice of toast this morning since January and it was ok (a 2 on the Matt taste scale).

    In a nutshell, things at 17+ weeks post are far better than 2 weeks post. Things just get better without realizing it.

    I am glad you made it to the other side safely.