CSN Login
Members Online: 2

You are here

phlegm and eating

mrbmx70's picture
Posts: 7
Joined: Jun 2013

I am only 3 days out of tx, which went well, tumor is gone lymph nodes are back to normal.  My problem is the phlegm and ropey saliva is making getting proper nutrition hard. After eating or drinking something I usually spend the next 10-15 mins. coughing up phlegm like crazy. I have tried all the typical suggestions,  salt & soda, Nuetrasal, club soda, etc... nothing has really worked. My weight keeps dropping a couple pounds every week because I can't get enough calories due to the phlegm. I know eventually it will subside but the weight is getting low and I need to try to get more calories, but between the phlegm and the sore throat I don't know how to. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4671
Joined: Mar 2012

welcome to our little slice of the internet....I don't know if you've been lurking and are just now saying hello, or if you simply stumbled in here today.....none the less you have found a great forum to voice your concerns.

I didn't have the phelgm mostly due (I think) to the fact that I also had Amifostine during my rad treatments....but I've surely heard a lot about it in the year+ that I've been here.  Some people have had good luck with Mucinex, so you might want to give that a try.  Hot tea, also....most tho, simply get thru each day until the crap goes away.

If your weight becomes too much of a problem (you didn't say how much you've lost over all).....you wouldn't be the first person who ended up with a tube after treatment is over.  That is one way to circumvent the phlegm causing problems.



jcortney's picture
Posts: 503
Joined: Sep 2012

it sounds like you don't have a peg so, if you can drink successfully then Ensure Plus would get you your calories.  Depending on what your treatment was after about 10-14 days you will begin to feel significantly better.  When I first ended treatment I had the same problems and on the 2nd of August I will be six months out and I still have some mucous.  But, I did have my first tuna sandwich the other day so there is hope :)

Take care,


mrbmx70's picture
Posts: 7
Joined: Jun 2013

have been drinking Ensure plus and Boost plus, but they make the phlegm problem worse due to the milk base of them. Have lost about 25+ pounds since starting tx, chemo was very hard on me and killed any appetite most of my weight was lost those weeks of chemo.

Posts: 839
Joined: May 2013

With the Boost and Ensure making it worse. I ended up having to get a peg with just 6 treatments left. It saved my life as I was losing a lb a day! I'm 3 weeks out of treatment and the thick junk is almost all gone! Drinking a LOT of water helped me the most. It was gross but I'd hack up as much as I could then drink a glass of water. Wait an hour or so and do it again. I did the baking soda,salt and water rinse...sometimes 2 quarts a day!! I hope you get relief very soon. 

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4296
Joined: May 2012


Welcome to the H&N forum, where we have problems with phlegm and ropey saliva coming out our mouths.

Keep working the problem, keep swishing and spitting, try warm drinks, try soda, try water based protein drinks, try thinning out the Ensure or Boost, but keep putting the calories in.  Even if it takes all day to get what you need.  About the time you learn to deal with these issues, they will most likely be gone or better.

The post treatment side effects can be a challenge; there are very few successful “short-cuts” to the hurdles you must jump.  Try anything legal, but get an ok from the onc if it seems risky.

Happy healing,


hwt's picture
Posts: 2330
Joined: Jun 2012

Welcome but sorry you had a need to find us. Wish I could offer advice but that was one of the few bullets that I dodged. Hope you find a quick resolution. 

debbiejeanne's picture
Posts: 3095
Joined: Jan 2010

tony, just want 2 say i hope u find something that works very soon.  it will just take time.

joe, i hope ur 1st tuna sandwich tasted real good.    :0)


cadharose's picture
Posts: 52
Joined: May 2013

Oh yes, the mucus. I have been dealing with that in a major way since my treatment ended nearly 3 weeks ago. There seems to be no end to it and eating does seem to provoke it. I was in the doctor's office a couple days ago and reassured that it will come to an end, probably in about 2 weeks.

As someone else said, you might try a thorough washout of your sinuses and mouth, etc., before eating. I do that, but it seems as soon as I think I've gotten it all out, then there's more.

As for more calories, load up on those protein shakes. ScandiShakes are great (if you can find them) - mixed with whole milk they have almost 600 calories each. I have also been downing a large spoonful of canola oil with each protein shake, for an extra few hundred calories per day. I know that sounds gross, but I don't really taste it and it goes down easily.

robswife87's picture
Posts: 208
Joined: Mar 2013

We used Glutamine in water, per Phrannie suggestion. It helped with mouth sores but really thinned the mucous and phlegm problem. I couldn't find the powder form locally but we picked up tablet form and I would cruch 2 and put in a 16 oz bottle of water. He sipped it all day long

fishmanpa's picture
Posts: 1216
Joined: Jan 2013

Hi Tony,

Yes, the dreaded mucous/snot devil. I read of folks talking about it and he came to visit me about the 4th week of treatment. I was going through boxes of tissues for weeks! (Puffs with lotion are from heaven!). Like many others, a rinse that containing glutamine worked pretty well. I used 16oz water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon baking soda and 5 grams (one scoop) powdered l-glutamine. It helped the mucous issue and soothed my mouth as well. 

Give it some time. It was about 2-3 weeks out and all of a sudden I wasn't using as many tissues and then poof!... it was gone that quickly... within a couple of days. Then comes the dry mouth... save it for another thread...

Positive thoughts and prayers



Memma White
Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2017

I know this post is old but I just stumbled on it having beeen going through dreaded mucus/snot devil. I just thought to pop you a ffew questions to clarify. When you say a rinse, do you mean a nasal rinse, a gargle solution or mouth rinse? Was the solution lasting? Still holding on to those positive thoughts and prayers. Thanks.


CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4296
Joined: May 2012


Welcome to the H&N forum.  Generally, the rinse is a combination of baking soda, salt and water.  I would keep a half gallon at the ready and use it often.  The rinse is just good habit to help clean your mouth and sooth the sores which pop up.


Posts: 251
Joined: Dec 2016

When I was hospitalized during week 4 of treatment I became acquainted with portable suction pumps.  I recommend the gomco 330a from medicalresources.com.  It became my best friend, and I got out of the spitting business.   Today, week 8 post-treatment I still use it , but much less. When I drink a shake, I do accumulate some scum that accumulates due to the thick milk and corn syrup.  The phelgm is actually because of the raw tissue from the radiation, and will reduce as the tissue heals.  Anything that helps tissue heal, like water irrigation and periodic baths of salt n soda will move you along.  It doesn't happen quickly, but I notice it is happening.  I just got done with a therapy session with my oncol speech and swallow therapist, and she evaluated my throat.  My bet is another 3 weeks for me.  I don't have much pain, but I don't have appitite either.  Surprising tastes come thru, and then leave.  

georgiasurfer's picture
Posts: 56
Joined: Aug 2016

my husband used this throughout and post treatment and had very little phlegm. I believe the recipe was 1 tablespoon for 4 ounces of water.  Swish and swallow 2 or 3 times a day. 

Posts: 251
Joined: Dec 2016

Are you sure you want L Glut during post-treatment?  I used it during, but have been told to lay off it now that I'm done.  

Subscribe to Comments for "phlegm and eating"