If you are experiencing excess mucus production, there are steps you can take to help prevent and clear the mucus in your lungs. Discuss these options with your healthcare provider to find a strategy that works for you, and together you and your healthcare provider can monitor the results.
- Cough it up. Controlled coughing loosens mucus and helps it move through the airways. Uncontrolled coughing fits may trap mucus in your airways.
- Postural draining. You can lie down in different positions to help clear the mucus.
- Quit smoking. Smoking produces thicker mucus and increases the amount of mucus in the airways. Nicotine, the addictive chemical found in cigarettes, paralyzes the cilia or fiber-like cells that help move mucus out of your lungs. Some people experience more mucus after recently quitting smoking because the cilia is now able to do its job more effectively.
- Keep hydrated. Water helps keep your mucus thinner.
- Watch your dairy intake. Some people may find that their mucus becomes thicker when dairy products, like milk or ice cream, are consumed.
- Prevent lung infections. Ask your healthcare provider if you are up to date on vaccines that prevent infectious respiratory disease such as flu and pneumococcal pneumonia.
- Talk with your healthcare provider about airway clearance methods. This can be done using manual chest physical therapy, airway clearance devices, or handheld positive expiratory pressure devices.
- Your healthcare provider may recommend medication. Discuss the types of over the counter or prescription medications that may help you clear mucus.
It is important to have a frank and open conversation with your healthcare provider about your mucus production and any other symptoms of your chronic lung disease. It can help to write down your questions before your appointment and hand them over. You may also find it useful to print out Getting Ready for Your Next Office Visit to jot down your questions in a more formal way.
Living with a chronic lung disease can be challenging. The American Lung Association has a wealth of resources available to help you. You can attend a Better Breathers Club meeting to get support from others also dealing with similar issues. By joining the Better Breathers Network, you have access to information that may help you better manage your lung disease. And you could also join an online support community on Inspire to connect with others at all hours.
The American Lung Association HelpLine (800-LUNG-USA) is staffed by medical professionals who can answer questions you have about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and management of your chronic lung disease.