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Please help. I have constant phlegm! Will it go away?

Hello everyone, I am new to this and to COPD. I quit smoking in November, 10 months ago. I quit because I was hearing a lot of wheezing in my lungs, but I was able to keep working and be very physically active before I quit.

As soon as I quit, my health took a dramatic downward spiral. I am 65 years old, and just retired in February. I smoked for about 44 years. I just can’t believe how fast my breathing and energy declined after quitting smoking!! I am on oxygen now 24 hours a day, and am taking Spiriva, Respimat, and Symbacort – also 2x Prednisone (10mg pills). This is what it’s like…

I watch my oxygen and heart rate constantly with my finger oximeter. My oxygen will be at 94 (on 3 or 4 liters), I can’t even walk from the car to the store doors! I have to have my wife get the electric wheel chair.

Now as for the phlegm: it’s been 10 months since I quit, and I am constantly trying to hack up thick stubborn mucus… it’s very difficult. I avoid dairy and all the triggers, but I am wondering if this ever goes away or stops? If it doesn’t, what can I do about it to get it to come up? I’ve tried breathing in steam, cough syrup that thins mucus, coughing, lemon water, gargling warm salt water… any suggestions or advice?
Thank you all and best wishes to you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • lindainoz
    2 years ago

    Hi Paul, I have been on oxygen for 9 years after being diagnosed with COPD and asthma.
    I could hardly walk from my bed to my lounge five years ago but after attending rehabilitation classes at my local hospital I bought a treadmill and started exercising at home. I am on oxygen 24/7 now. I started off slowly and gradually built up so that I now walk every day for half an hour at 3.5 kilometers an hour.
    I have a new lease of life and I can do so much more for myself.
    I drink 8 cups of water a day and use Bisolvon tablets for phlegm. I also use a straw to blow through a bottle of water a few times a day to help with my breathing.
    I also found an online COPD Facebook support group and I have learned so much from them regarding daily living problems, as opposed to the wonderful treatment I have had from my lung specialist and doctors.
    I wish you well and hope that you can improve your quality of life.

  • schallsa
    2 years ago

    Hello Paul: I ended up in the hospital in March with extreme difficulty breathing; I immediately quit smoking after 50 years. I was so intrigued with your statement that your health took an immediate downward spiral as I experienced the same thing. I felt better smoking before I went in the hospital. I am now in medicare approved rehab and work hard at it but I also am having trouble walking. I am on oxygen at night.

  • Casey Hribar moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi schallsa! Very interesting to hear about the downward spiral! I’m so sorry to hear this! Please keep us posted on everything. We’re thinking of you, and sending positive thoughts your way. Hopefully, the rehab will eventually provide you with some relief!!! -Casey, Team

  • Welshdragon
    2 years ago

    Hi I live in wales in Great Britain ive had copd for over a year now but found that sucking some sweets called annessed twists can get you to get rid of the irritating phlegm .mine is constantly there but I do get rid . Hope things work out for the better for you take care

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Welshdragon and thanks for sharing with the community what you find to be helpful getting rid of the phlegm. I personally never heard of the candy so I really appreciate your tip. I looked it up with a GOOGLE search and found this explanation on, of all things, Wikipedia: Is this the candy that you find to be so helpful?
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator0

  • Casey Hribar moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi PaulCubberly,

    Welcome to our community! We’re so glad to have you here! Also, congratulations on quitting smoking! What a great accomplishment, and (usually) such a healthful decision to make. It’s very interesting to hear that your health has taken a frustrating turn since quitting, and I’m not quite sure why that is, or if the two are related. Unfortunately, we can’t give medical advice out over the internet (for your safety!), but this is certainly something I would bring up with your provider if you haven’t already! The same thing goes for finding treatment options for your phlegm and breathing. The things you’ve mentioned trying are great options, but it may be a good idea to run everything by your provider and let them know what has and hasn’t been helping the phlegm and cough. In the meantime, I’ve found a few articles you may find helpful regarding coughing and phlegm. You can find these here:

    Please keep us updated on everything, and if you get a chance to talk with your doctor about this further, let us know what they say!! We’re here for you, and sending positive thoughts your way!

    Best, Casey ( Team)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi PaulCubberly and welcome to our website! We are glad to have you here! I see that Casey has provided you with some good reference material to assist you in understanding more about COPD and the mucus you are dealing with.
    As well, I thought you might want to check out our COPD Facebook page. You can find it here: You will find many of our community members there candidly discussing all aspects of COPD. You may find it helpful to join in.
    I also thought you might gain more insight into COPD by reviewing this material on that very subject:
    Please feel free to drop by anytime! If there is anything we can assist you with, just let me or any other moderator/team member know.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

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