Choking on

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Active member
Mar 18, 2007

Hi Guys,........back again with another issue which makes me extremely anxious especially when I'm alone at home. I seem to have an overabundance of phlegm which causes me to cough until I am exhausted. Sometimes it seems to get stuck and that's when the panic sets in. I use Mucinex DM which my pulmonary doctor said would help. Also when I eat anything sweet such as chocolate or ice cream the tickle in my throat precedes the awful coughing spells. At times I feel as if I will pass out. Any ideas or web sites you can recommend will be appreciated. It's scaring me to death. Sharon
Hi Sharon. I find milk and ice cream makes me have excess phlegm. The drug amitriptyline helps some with phlegm and I find I cough it up better in the shower. Try running hot water in the sink with a towel over your head and see if that helps break it up.
My Husband Too!

Hi, AL
This is Musicsmiles, my husband seems to be having a very similar problem to Sharon. He is on the medicine, amitriptyline. It does help somewhat with the husband couphs alot and he will bring his phlem up....only part way, then it gets caught...he then can only breath through his nose...because his muscles in his throat are too weak to bring it up the rest of the way....he has to work very hard to bring it up the rest of the way...he has the 'bulbar" onset of ALS..he is only on soft foods now.
My husbands fastculations moved down to his stomach area..when first diagnoised in September he had them in his face, arms, and top part of his they moved down around belly area. Does this mean anything? And the throat muscles, becoming weaker than ever, does this mean he soon won't be able to swallow anything? He is wondering about a stomach tube? By all means he is not in denial. He had his regular appointment at the ALS clinic last week, but, it seems like a week AFTER each visit.something new happens. just a fluke..I guess.
AL...can you get back to me...maybe you have some kind of suggestions to make my husband feel..a little more comfortable...Thanks so much for your time and just for being here!
Musicsmiles (it really does)
Hello Al and anyone else who uses hot water and a towel tent to break up phlegm. My Korean girlfriend says to go to the grocery store and get some fresh ginger root. It looks like a little gnarled tree root, and most majoy chains carry it in the fresh produce department. Peel a tiny sliver and slice it into the hot water and see what that does for you! (Caution: a little goes a long way. This treatment will make your eyes water!) As an additional bonus, peel and slice tiny slivers into the marinade for your chicken or steak. Yum! Cindy
Lee uses ginger in turkey and chicken stuffing to stop me from getting indigestion. Works great. AL.
Hi musicsmiles. Sorry your husband is not doing so great. At the last clinic visit did they mention a cough assist machine? It may help to get the phlegm up the last part of the way. My fasciculations started at the bottom and worked their way up. His are going the other way and will probably go down to his feet eventually and no one can tell you how long it will take. The throat muscles getting weaker do mean that a feeding tube should be discussed very soon. Did you mention at the clinic that he can only eat soft food? When is his next visit? I wish I could offer something encouraging but there isn't much out there.
phlegm and coke

:idea: i have posted this before, and one person here actually tried it and posted back that it worked for them.

my husband was having extreme problems coughing up phlegm, and a friend of ours who is a pharmacist told him to drink plain ole coke when that happens. she said no other soft drink works, but just coke.

he did try it and it did help. it's worth a try, and if it helps you, good. let me know by return post if it does.

My husband uses a cough assist and that really helps. Now that he is having more weakness, they have started him on alla-vert and albuterol treatments with a nebulizer to break up phlegm. They are also giving him IPV machine to stimulate vibrations and loosen phlegm. They seem to feel that utilizing the surrounding muscles as much as possible when the diaphragm and throat muscles they suggested using something similar to the heimlic (ps?) maneuver to force the phlegm up, as well as cough assist. Just keep in close contact with your pulminoligists and, if you can, go to regular respiratory clinics for the "latest and greatest". I will be praying for all of you! Love, Teej
Yes, jackie Max...we did the coke thing too. When Shannon ccould still tak a bit of liquid we used coke to break up the phlegm. he liked it so much that even for awhile after he couldnt handle any liquids orally he would have me put some inhis mouth with a syringe and slowly dropper it in.
Folks can do a search on this site for 'phlegm' as this topic comes up a lot (haha--a pun I guess).
Thanks Everyone for Advice

Hi All,.........Thank you, guys, for the good advice on the phlegm thing. I will mention the cough assist to my pulmonary guy. I have already sent out my husband for coke. Will give anything a try at this point. Sure hope it helps. Sharon

My father had ALS, and also seemed to have coughing fits. He choked on saliva and had my sisters and me call an ambulance 2 times becuase he was pannicing. The only thing I could say it to not eat as much dairy-based products. That only builds on the phlegm. Also, if you start to choke, DO NOT panic, it only enhances the choking. Stay as calm as possible, i no its hard. Also, try to make sure you have someone in the house with you at all times. My father was never to be left alone.
a little mucus problem

Hey all,
T is starting to not really be able to cough very well ... she can only slightly cough. I got her some Mucinex DM to see if it will help break up the mucus because I thought that maybe it will come out easier. She gets a choking sensation when she ALMOST coughs it out, but it gets stuck. Do you think the mucinex will help? Also, we live in FL where it is really hot and we've had our AC at 72 ... we were wondering if that could aggravate the problem. We have an initial appointment to see her pulmonologist tomorrow but I just wanted to ask you all as well since you've had the experience first hand (unfortunately). :( Thanks for your help.

The mucus becomes a real problem. I know it has frustrated my mother to no end. The doctors would tell her to suction it out. However, my mother hates the suction machine and she gags on it. The nurse at the clinic told her to use meat tenderizer under her tongue or you can rub some on the tongue. It seemed to work for my mom. I also read somewhere on the forum that people were using coke to break down the mucus. We did not try that since my mom is on a feeding tube. It worth a try. Good luck and God Bless. Anne
Just a note on coke and Lung VOlume Recruitment

Coke seems to work well to break up phlegm....but depending on how much the throat has been affected, be careful of aspiration. In some cases a person may not even realize that the coke is tickling into their lungs which could lead to aspiration pneumonia. Has anyone heard of using lung volume recruitment(LVR)? I know of one ALS clinic that uses LVR quite extensively in ALS patients to assist with brining up secretions and maintaining lung health (decreasing the chance of pneumonia). For more information on LVR look at then under respiratory therapy then lung volume recruitment.
There is a short video that shows what the procedure looks like. Hope this also gives an option.
I can't make the link work - is it just me?
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