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Questions regarding mucus -- please help

Posts: 757
Joined: Apr 2012

In the last two weeks my husband's mucus has increased greatly as to where he can't sleep lying down. This is both in his lungs and mouth. He had a laryngectomy in March 2011 and then in April 2012 they found a tumor at the cervical of the esphogus (rare spot and due to location considered head and neck). He underwent another 35 radiation and 7 chemo treatments which were completed 7/2/12 because they told us that due to location, previous surgery and radiation, surgery would have major complications and was being ruled out. Small tumor and no spread. Everything was going good until 2 weeks ago when he became sick with what they think was a stomach virus. Since then nothing but problems. His throat is completely closed off and he depends on a feeding tube and has since May 2012. He had a PET/CT scan last week and we see the doctors this Wednesday for the results.

Has anyone ever had this problem of excessive mucus all of a sudden? We have tried the wedge, mucinex, benadylr but nothing helps. The recliner does help him sleep better and I guess the next step would be an adjustable bed. Hospital bed is too short for him as he is 6'4". Am wondering if his throat being completely closed off is the problem. The doctors said they couldn't do anything until they have the results of the PET/CT scan.

Thanks for any help -- Sharon

MarineE5's picture
Posts: 907
Joined: Dec 2005


I am sorry to read the road both of you have had to travel so far. Reading that your husband completed this round of treatments as recently as July 2,2012, I am leaning towards Lymphodema at the moment. Let me explain quickly.

You mentioned that when he sleeps in the recliner, he is able to sleep better. From my own experience, the mucus is staying down lower due to his position in the chair. Also, the Lymphnode system works with gravity and the Lymphnode system reservoir is actually located just below our bellybutton to the left a little. By having his head and neck above heart level, gravity is helping.

My Lymphnode system problems did not become an issue until roughly 2-3 months after my final treatments. My throat narrowed and I had to learn from a Cancer Physical Therapist on how to perform the gentle lymphnode massage on myself as needed.

This may sound strange, but your husband may not be taking in enough fluids (water mainly) I do enjoy coffee, so I include that in my daily numbers. If he is drinking dairy products, that will make the mucus worse, such as a plain glass of milk. The mucus will decrease as time goes on, but each person is different and the results vary.

Again, this is just my view from where I sit. If the Lymphnode system is part of the problem by narrowing the troat, it just makes everything worse.

My Best to Both of You and Everyone Here

Greend's picture
Posts: 678
Joined: Feb 2010

I have had this problem and it was because I unknowingly (sp?) had pneumonia. For a couple of weeks I had extremely huge amounts of mucus and when they finally did an x-ray of my lungs they found I had been walking around with pneumonia. I too use a tube so I had to grind up the Cipro to inject into my feeding tube.

fisrpotpe's picture
Posts: 1349
Joined: Aug 2010

i had it bad durning and for sometime after treatments. i tried a couple things.

an over the counter nasal saline solution, i would tip head back and spay in each nostril until i felt it run in the back of throat. that would loosen up all the crap and then could blow it and spit it out easier. keep in mind you can do this as often as you like.

seemed for me that sitting with vaporizer in room helped keep it looser

best was getting a portable suction machine, it works like the suction machine the dentist uses. the doc can write a script to get one. i loved this machine, it saved so much energy that it took to push the the crap out.

for the normal person our nose creates a quart of mucus a day that slides down the back of throat with out problems, for those of us with radiation damage it get hung up and is an ugly feeling.

sure hope and pray his problem does not last long


phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4672
Joined: Mar 2012

My mom had a total laryngectomy...plus she had COPD, which caused her immense anounts of mucous the rest of her life. She kept the suction machine next to her chair in the living room. She also had a humidifier in the living room, as the mucous was easier to expell if the air was moister.

She did end up getting a hospital like bed in her bedroom, so she could restfully sleep in a more upright position....she didn't sleep good enough in a recliner...


Posts: 757
Joined: Apr 2012

Yes my husband has a suction machine and has since his laryngectomy which does help but he has to cough real hard to get it to where he can suction. I keep a check on the moisture levels in the house too and we do use a vaporizer when needed. All this really started happening two weeks ago when he got sick with what the doctor thought was a stomach virus. Before this he never really had the problems he is having now with mucus. I know when the primary saw him, he listened to his lungs and said they were clear. Funny thing is during the days the mucus isn't near as bad as it is at night.

Can't wait for Wednesday to hurry up and get here so we can find out the results of the PET/CT scan.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Tim6003's picture
Posts: 1511
Joined: Nov 2011

Not so sure my input will be helpful..but to share my experience...

I had TERRIBLE mucus....could not lay down and sleep, but my mucus came on just as rads were ending ...not started up as your husbands after rads....

I do know each person responds to treatments differently and most people do eventually get rid of the mucus...though some have it longer...

Mine did not go away fast enough ...total of about 8 weeks of that horrible stuff.

I do hope it gets better fast..



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