COPD and Throat Pain
Last updated: March 2020
People often ask about COPD and throat pain, throat discomfort, coughing things up or just plain coughing. Many things can affect a person’s throat. Yet, for the person with COPD, there may be a few things that are unique to them.
Things that can affect a person with COPD's throat
Acid Reflux is also known as GERD or heartburn. Acid Reflux happens when acid or bile from the stomach goes into the esophagus. Some may say that they feel pain in their throat, maybe chest as well. Some people might say they feel pain, others may say they feel a burn. You might belch controlled or not. It can often be treated with antacids. If not, then it’s time to go to see your doctor.
I didn't go to the doctor. After 3 days of this unrelenting pain in my chest and some pain in my throat, I finally went to the emergency department. My symptoms were similar to a heart attack, so I spent a night in ICU and had additional testing. The second night I was given a private room and was released the following day with medication. An appointment with a general surgeon was set to do an endoscopy. As well as diagnosing acid reflux, I was also diagnosed with Barrettes Esophagus which is a pre-cancer of the lining of the esophagus. A hiatal hernia was diagnosed as well. I have an endoscopy every six months to two years. That is determined by my previous test results.
Allergies and COPD
Allergies are a bane for many people. Some are seasonal and some 24/7. Those with COPD can struggle so much. Those with allergies can contribute to their COPD with the sinus drainage that runs down into the lungs. This can irritate the throat and cause coughing. Depending on the allergy, it can always cause anaphylaxis.
I hear more and more from people who develop allergies at all stages in life, more and more in their adult lives. I had allergies as a child. As an adult, I developed more and some severe. A few years back, specialists said they believe that my allergies are what trigger my COPD exacerbations.
It's important that you discuss potential or diagnosed allergies with your doctor. There are over the counter medications that you can take. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you if the over the counter allergy medication is compatible with the prescription medications that you are taking. Your doctor needs to know because some things that might be recommended for you, might trigger an allergic reaction. Regular allergies can turn into serious reactions and even anaphylaxis. Allergies affect sinus, ears, and throats. You might feel throat pain. Be safe.
Mucus also called phlegm or sputum is something that many COPDers are familiar with. We likely see mucus as a problem, as something that makes us miserable and sick. Did you know that mucus is actually produced in the lungs and its purpose is to protect the lungs? Yet, when someone is getting sick or when a person is in the later stages of COPD, the mucus becomes thicker and there is a build-up. We might feel that mucus in the back of our throats, which causes coughing. Which often causes a sore throat.
Often when medications don’t work or even if the doctor wants to get a specific diagnosis of what bacteria is causing the inflammation or sickness in your lungs, your doctor might ask you to bring in a sputum sample. This will go into the refrigerator for a couple of days to grow a culture of the bacteria. From there, a diagnosis can be made. The sputum (mucus) is usually not cultured unless there is a need to do so.
Yeast Infection is also called candida or thrush. The ones that we are talking about are of the mouth and throat. A person can also get these as a genital yeast infection, in the stomach or even gastrointestinal. Men can get these on their penis as well. It might itch or even be painful.
My oldest daughter was born and severely sick with thrush of the mouth and throat. Even when I was young, if I took antibiotics, I got a yeast infection. Now with Spiriva, Advair, and other medications, I can get thrush. It’s so important to rinse well after using these inhaled medications. If you are needing medications to rid yourself of thrush, there are medications that your doctor can give you, to help rid yourself of thrush. Nystatin helps me. They call it swish and spit because that’s what you do.
You can do a search online for thrush and see what it looks like in the mouth. It can look patchy, spotted, furry or more. If it begins to spread down your throat, you need to contact your doctor. Then, you might be given oral medication. It’s so important to treat this. Something else that you can use is plain yogurt, not flavored or Greek, just plain yogurt. That won’t likely cure a full-blown bought with thrush, but it can help to act as a preventative and may even bring you relief as you treat your thrush.
Do you have or know of other things that affect your COPD and cause throat pain? Please share, we'd like to hear from you!
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