Will wedge pillow improve sleeping - Stage IV non small cell lung cancer

crbrn12 Member Posts: 3

Hi!  I am new to this and probably sound like an idiot!  My husband was diagnosed with stage IV non small cell lung cancer.  While the radiation therapy shrunk his lung mass and erased the lymph node tumor, the chemo did not keep spread in check.  He is now on his 3rd chemo drug and it sounds like they do not give it much hope.

He does pretty well during the day but at night he coughs so much!  It wakes both of us up and scares us!   He coughs so hard he gasps for air.  It terrifies me.  We have tried having him sleep on 3 pillows but they move all over.

Has anyone had any sucess with wedge pillows?  If so, did you use 7, 10 or 12" wedges?  Or would it be better just to put some blocks under the head of the bed?

Looking for any suggestions to improve his quality of life.

Love and thanks!


  • honeycomb27
    honeycomb27 Member Posts: 6
    wedge pillow

    so i have not tried a wedge pillow for my husband he sleeps with 3 or 4 pillows -  he is stage 3b lung cancer and like your husband the cough scares me too death he was coughing so much his ribs hurt all the time and i could never sleep from all the coughing and wheezing

    but believe it or not i started putting vicks vapor rub on his chest and back with a t shirt and also on the bottom of his feet then put socks on his feet and believe it his cough all but went away the next morning - he could not even believe how good he felt the next morning - i know it sounds crazy but it works

    also i started buying the generic vapor rub because i use on him everynight and the vicks is expensive when using everyday

    ps when i only put on his chest and back it only helped a little - the bottom of feet is the key rub it on his feet really good and thick - i use 1/2 a small jar of the vapor rub each night and im telling you it really has made a world of difference

    also wheezing stoped the next morning after using first time on his feet and never has come back and he used to wheeze all night

    also you should keep a window cracked in bedroom if possible and don't keep the room warm its easier for him to breath if the room is cooler like 71 or 72 degrees

    hope you try it


  • Ladylacy
    Ladylacy Member Posts: 773 Member
    Wedge Pillow

    My husband tried the wedge pillow and didn't like it.  Hurt his back.  Many have used them and like them.  We have the head of our bed raised about 6 inches on blocks.  We looked at adjustable beds but my husband is 6'4" and was sliding out the bottom once the head was raised.  Now he is using 2 pillows.  While he is a laryngectomy with spread to his lungs and at the cervical of his esophagus, he hasn't had any breathing problems. 

    I bought the wedge pillow at Bed Bath and Beyond and when I found out he didn't like to use it, I returned it.

  • dennycee
    dennycee Member Posts: 843 Member
    Hi. Maybe a pillow is not the answer.

    After my chemo/radiation ended I had problems too.  Ask your doctor for some Tessalon Perls.  Also check the humidity in your sleeping area.  I had to put a humidifier in my room.  Was the esophagus in the radiation field and have lots of irritation?  I developed GERD as a result.  The esophagus is not closing right so stomach gasses rise up and cause the sinuses to drain mucus, aggravating the cough.  (Sounds attractive, no?)

    did they test your husbands cancer for mutations?   Oops, what kind of nsclc does he have?  Have they looked at one of the targeted therapies?  In all honesty, I am wondering if he had two different types of primary tumors.  Have they talked about clinical trials?  

    I am taking cold meds so my thoughts are all over the place tonight I hope you were able to follow all that. 

  • Ex_Rock_n_Roller
    Ex_Rock_n_Roller Member Posts: 281
    What's better than a wedge pillow ...

    ... and unfortunately, the other person in the bed may not like it, is raising the entire head of the bed, using wooden spacers under the feet, by two to four inches. The wedge pillow wants to bend you; raising the whole bed maintains a flat surface. It works a heck of a lot better for me; the wife hates it.

    The only down side to it, other than the other person not liking it, is that things, including you, want to slip off the foot end. Don't use shiny sheets!

  • Dawn50
    Dawn50 Member Posts: 122

    My husband has been coughing for more than two years now. At times it's so bad that he gags and gasps for a breath. He has tried raising the head of the bed, the wedge pillows, tesslon pearls, and various other things to get it under control. They currently have him on Flexeril (muscle relaxers) which have changed the cough but only because he is so relaxed he barely has the strength to cough. If you find something that works please post - we're game to try most anything.

  • ToBeGolden
    ToBeGolden Member Posts: 695

    I use a 2 and 4 inch wedge pillow and sleep flat on my back. I also take a 1/2 Benedryl before sleeping to dry out the mucus. The docs gave me Benedryl of chemo days, so I figured.... rightly or wrongly. I tell my docs that I take the Benedryl (they think it is not much help). But I think it keeps the night coughing down, together with keeping the head elevated.

    I like the idea of raising the whole bed angle (on blocks) rather than using wedge pillows (although I will still use the wedge pillows because they work for me. Rick.