Yellow Phlegm and Asthma...

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Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 5/12/2012 11:22 AM (GMT -6)   
Hey everyone,
I know I posted something about my asthma a while ago but I figured I'd give an update and to see if anyone has any tips. I'm 27 and for the last three to four years I always wake up needing my inhaler, and cough up a lot of yellow phlegm. I thought this was because of bronchitis because I know what that feels like when I get the flu or cold, but to a lesser degree. I have gone to my main doctor who see's my peak flow readings are very good, and took another breathing test (the one where you keep blowing for a long time) and passed all of those. So they ruled out the bronchitis, and didn't really do anything for me since they said I have good lungs.
I have been to a pulmonologist last year but he didn't really help me that much. All he gave me was the asthma action plan which, like I said before, is kind of pointless because I always get good numbers, even when I am sick. Anyone have any ideas? I thought it could be allergies causing this, but everything I've tried reading up on, I couldn't find anything that says allergies can cause yellow phlegm in the lungs in the morning.
I also got turbinite reduction for my sinuses a few months ago, and I am really glad I did. My nose airways have opened up and I can breathe easier through them. i asked the ENT about the phlegm and he said it didn't look like it was coming from my nose, and probably in my lungs. Once again though, no help to actually telling me what it is. I have tried meds like Advair, singulair, Flowvent and none of that stuff seems to help it.
UPDATE: Ah, I forgot to mention the only other health issue I have is bad acid reflux. I take Omeperazole for it twice a day and it seems to help the burning. I thought that the phlegm might be coming from that so I did see a specialist but they said it had nothing to do with my throat or GERD. I thought because the reflux happens so much that maybe the acid was getting into my lungs or something, but I guess not.

Post Edited (supa_pokute) : 5/12/2012 12:16:23 PM (GMT-6)

It's Genetic
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Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 1540
   Posted 5/12/2012 3:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello, Supa_pokute, and welcome to the Allergy&Asthma Forum.
I'd like to ask some questions, please:

1. Is this a constant thing or do you have days when it is better than on other days? (How frequently it occurs is important because if it's sporadic, it may indicate that it's in you diet.)

2. Is it better when you go outside or is it better when you remain indoors? (That's self-explanatory, since if it's better indoors, you're sensitive to something that's ubiquitous in the atmosphere outside the home.)

3. Is it better at night than in the morning when you first get up?
(This indicates that if it's worse in the morning, the mucus is building in the throat overnight.)

4. Is either of your ears stopped up or does either of them hurt?
(This could indicate a deep inner ear infection that is draining during the night. Stopped up ears are frequently an indication of infection, particularly if there is occasional sharp pain in either ear.)

Your answers may reveal whether you have an indoor allergy, primarily, or are allergic to something that is airborne in the atmosphere outside.

Usuallly, the sputum that is bright yellow is an indication of an infection.

It could possibly be a post nasal drip that is coming from a sinus drainage to the throat that builds during the night, particularly if it's worse when you wake up in the morning.  Do you elevate your
head at night when you sleep with a pillow?  Try using a couple of
pillows one night and see how that works.

Drink plenty of water--at least 8 (8ounce) glasses per day; cut out dairy products and white flour products for 5 or 6 days to see if it improves. If it doesn't, get an appointment with an allergy specialist and have some testing done to determine what you're sensitive to in inhaled allergens. If it does improve, still keep the appointment with the allergist because it means that you have some food sensitivities that are bothering you somewhat seriously and you need to know what they are. 
Often, cutting way back on sugar relieves acid in the stomach because, while sugar tastes sweet, it is digested as acidic.  You're better off not using sugar at all.  I might suggest that if you use peppermint lozenges or Tums for acidity, you need to stop them, because they are not as effective as other things in relieving acidity.  (Gerd is an acid reflux.)
We aren't doctors, so we can't diagnose, but we can tell you what we have experienced or what we know works for us.

A lot of people have been experiencing a virus recently with symptoms such as yours, although you may have something entirely different, and I suspect that you do since your doctors don't seem to be able to identify it easily.
Some of these types of problems may be the result of undigested
protein or protein that is not completely digested that is escaping into the fluids of the system. Someone has suggested that asthma may be strongly related to that.
Don't worry about the proton pump inhibitors. They have nothing to do with your digestion of meat.  It's hydrochloric acid that does that, and the proton pumps are not involved in production of hydrochloric acid.  You might ask for a check of your hydrochloric acid to see if you have sufficient strength in it to begin the breakdown of protein for the small intestine to digest. 
The answer will turn up; just keep working on it and changing the things that seem to make it better. 
Take care.

It's Genetic

Post Edited (It's Genetic) : 5/12/2012 2:29:14 PM (GMT-6)

Elite Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 5/12/2012 4:35 PM (GMT -6)   
I was in the same spot you are in two years ago. Coughing up gunk all of the time for 3 years. I was on all sorts of meds for asthma and allergies and nothing happened.

Finally I was evaluated for GERD. I had terrible reflux and it was damaging my epitglottis. Food was gathering on top of my malfunctioning epitglottis and causing coughing and mucus build up.

Get yourself evaluated:
Barium swallow

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 5/12/2012 9:30 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for all the replies everyone, to answer your questions Genetic:

1. When this started I would have better days then others. But the last year it seems to happen everyday now, no matter what time of the year it is. It has become a constant routine

2. It seems to be the same. We do own a cat and I know I have an allergy to it, although I have lived with cats before since I was a kid and never had this severe of symptoms. I thought it could still be this, but like everyone else, my allergest I have gone to in town told me he couldn't be sure if all the phlegm in my lungs was coming from allergens but didn't think so.

3. It's worse in the morning. I will wake up needing my inhaler, and the first few hours I will usually cough up a lot of that yellow phlegm. Once I take a shower it seems to de-congest it all. Though through out the day I will still have a wet cough, which is kind of embarassing at work.

4. My ears do not hurt or have never hurt

Post Edited (supa_pokute) : 5/12/2012 8:35:00 PM (GMT-6)

It's Genetic
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 1540
   Posted 5/13/2012 7:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Don't underestimate the allergy to the cat dander. It can become serious.

Also, don't neglect to get the GERD testing done as couchtater recommends.  That may prove positive.

The fact that a shower makes it better indicates that an allergen is being reduced momentarily by the presence of sprays of water. That makes me think strongly that it's an allergy.

I also think that there's a possibility that it's coming from your bronchial tubes rather than your lungs since the pulmonary specialist told you that your lungs are good and put you on a regimen for allergy through use of sprays, etc.

You need, in my view, a thorough investigation by an allergy specialist and testing for GERD.

I hope you feel better soon; I really do, because I know that it is no fun.

For intermediate relief, I suggest that you use nasal rinses with 1/4 teaspoon of UNrefined salt (not refined salt, please)mixed with about 6-8 ounces of water up to 4 times a day (that's what my ear, nose and throat specialist said is acceptable for help). You will find unrefined salt (from France is best for this for me) in specialty stores such as Whole Foods or other quality food suppliers.

It's Genetic

Post Edited (It's Genetic) : 5/13/2012 6:30:27 AM (GMT-6)

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 5/13/2012 12:44 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for all the help, I really appreciate it. I thought I should probably give a more specific report on exactly what happens:
When I wake up in the morning it is very difficult to inhale fully into the lungs because they feel so tight like they are clamped shut. I will then use my inhaler and that usually helps open it up a bit. I will still not be 100% okay, but it will start to go away after a couple hours. During this time I will also cough up the yelllow phlegm, and I normally skip breakfast because when I try to eat any meal even if it's small, it will feel like the food is getting caught in my throat and I'll just keep coughing up phlegm.
It's strange because the feeling of shortness of breath especially in the morning feels much different then when I had asthma as a kid. I would normally wheeze back then and it would be hard to breath, but I could still inhale fully and my inhaler would bring me back to normal. Nowadays I never wheeze when I need my inhaler, just the other symptoms.
Once I jump into the shower it seems like the it loosens all the phlegm quite a bit. It doesn't help my asthma but it doesn't seem to get any worse either. After going to work through out the day I will ususally have the wet cough accompanied by some phlegm, but not nearly as much as in the morning. I will also have shortness of breath off and on. One big issue with this long term problem is that my medicare won't pay for enough of my inhalers since I need it three or more times a day, and while I understand most normal asthmatics only need it during emergencies it kind of sucks for my wallet.
Thats about it, hopefully that helped. The only other thing I can say is that while eating anything, whether it's something that effects GERD like spicy food, or items like banana's or oatmeal that shouldn't hurt it, I will always get indegestion from everything. Maybe that has nothing to do with it, but I know I get that and burp quite a bit.
Just to recap I have seen these people:
1. ENT - had my terbinite reduction - said phlegm is probably coming from somewhere else besides post nasal drip.
2. gastro - told me i do have acid reflux and gerd from the X-rays and esohpigal ph study (and uppper endoscopy), but nothing was damaged and told me if omeperazole is helping the burning sensation then they don't know what else to do other then nissan surgery. Also said they don't believe any of that can cause yellow phlegm.
3. Pulm - had breathing tests done - said that they all looked good and gave me the asthma action plan; no help for the shortness of breath of phlegm.
4. allergist - said I am very allergic to cats, dogs, dustmites, rabbits, bluegrass, oak, and a couple other things (did a scratch test). Told me I could get allergy shots if my asthma gets better but also said the yellow phlegm wouldn't be from this.
This is all from last year. I know it probably sounds like I went crazy with seeing all the specialists but I am kind of fed up with being this sick all the time and only in my 20s. Heck, if someone has a really good specialist or doctor they know that will listen to you and lives in New England, I will not hesitate to take a few days off and drive to them.

Post Edited (supa_pokute) : 5/13/2012 6:25:12 PM (GMT-6)

It's Genetic
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 1540
   Posted 5/13/2012 9:20 PM (GMT -6)   
Your lungs may give the sense that they are clamping down; it's a protective effort to keep whatever the allergen  that is bothering you from reaching the lungs.  It is more than likely the bronchi that
are causing the difficulty in breathing. 

Dr.Cynthia Yoschida, author of "No More Digestive Problems" suggests that there is no one gold standard test to determine Gerd.  She recommends having an endoscopy done of the esophagus.  It can be diagnosed also by a medical history alone.
If you have been told that you have it, I feel sure you were also told what you needed to do to get it corrected.  I would suggest
that you see another gastroenterologist if the first one did not
give you sufficient directives on how to care for the disease.  There
is surgery that is available if all else fails, I understand.
If you can't have the whole home treated for dust mites, cat dander, etc.,(as you need to do) make sure that you make your bedroom safe from them by scrubbing the floors, windows, sills, dusting the furniture, encasing your mattress and box springs and pillows in dust-mite-proof casings.)

If you have carpet in your room, vacuum it, then spray it with a dust mite killer (available at your local Home Depot or Lowe's store). Let the spray dry, and then vacuum your carpet again. (That will last about 3 months.)  Keep the cat and dog out of the room permanently. Change the filters in your heating, a/c equipment once a month without fail. That will help very much in making you a safe room in which to sleep.

And by the way, no matter how often one cleans a home or how carefully or thoroughly one cleans it, all homes will have dust mites. No home is ever completely free of them.
We are required to say that we are not doctors and cannot diagnose; we can tell you, however, what we've experienced and how we've managed it for ourselves.

Take care.
It's Genetic

Post Edited (It's Genetic) : 5/13/2012 9:43:59 PM (GMT-6)

Elite Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 5/14/2012 1:47 PM (GMT -6)   
By the way I had the nissen surgery. It was too late to save my epiglottis so I still choke sometimes on gunk, but I'm not refluxing anymore.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 291
   Posted 5/22/2012 7:04 AM (GMT -6)   
I don't have much advice to offer but I am the exact same.  I have asthma and also my sinuses act up sometimes.  With both, I either blow my nose and have the yellow thick phlem or I cough it up (sorry...I know it's gross).  I just always have my advair on hand when i get that tickly cough and nasonex for my nose when I feel my airways blocked (in a different way than a regular cold) or I see the yellow phlem in the kleenex.  Good luck.  I know it's a pain.
Ulcerative Colitis 1988, had colon removed and now jpouch
Now sufer from sacroiliitis and inflammation of piriformis muscle causing sciatica like pain during flare ups. Joints very bad...take celebrex when needed.

New Member

Date Joined Jul 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 7/8/2012 9:31 PM (GMT -6)   

Having similar problems with phlegm but no trouble in breathing.
I Had bronchitis and my colds and cough started April 23, first week of May had Augmentin and Fluimucil 200mg for 5 days., it worked, Im a smoker and cig 6-8 sticks. my Cough and colds went back after a week. Was diagnosed from xray that i had pneumonia, went to another course if antibiotin (May 21-25) Claratan and Solmux Broncho for another 5 days. it did not help because i still have cough and bad greenish-gray phlegm so stopped smoking then. I noticed that i dont have cough in the afternoon but only when I wake up in the morning after 3 hours i will cough with sound and greenisg gray phlegm sticky will go out in my throat,. I went to another pulmonolist in a different hosptal( my 3rd pulmunologist) she requested another follow up xray and showed up my xray lungs are clear (thank God) heart is in good condition ( im aware that i have thoracicscoliosis and lumbar).
gave me another set of antibiotic (for the 3rd time!!!), Levofloxacin,Memptin,CoAleva and Fluimucil 600mg..but never worked. still coughing and greenish-gray that looks like thers some string of color ash. (prabobly nicotine in tar because i stopped smoking).
until now for almost 2 months i still cough once a day in the morning after i wake and wil still spit out phleg, but now color was improved to yellow green., i dont feel unusual other than muscle pain in my chest whenever i inhaled to much theres tightness inside and my breastbone will hurt so bad also in between my breast part sometimes., my back also aches theres a spot that hurts so much. i dont know what else to do. I have seen 2 internist and 3 pulmonoligst form diffrent hosptal and couldnt figure out whats wrong with me. I had blood test also. Im so worried. ,pls help.,

I also dint have aNY allergies nor asthma, no trouble breathing (was also tested for that) nor shortness of breathing.
tight chestpain and pain near the breastbone sometimes and yellow phlegm in te morning (sometimes have dry cough in the afternoon but seldmon and will spit out clear frothy white phlegm). my chest are so heavy most of the time in my right chest.

any help will be soo much appreciated. thanks in Advance.

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 7/28/2012 2:03 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone,

I am still having the same issues but I tried to be more detailed and re-wrote this so it made more sense. Not sure how much help I'll get but I thank anyone who will give me their opinions:

Hello everyone,

I'm a 27 year old male, and since I was 2 or 3 years old I was diagnosed with asthma. I would go the emergency room every year growing up with asthma attacks, and everytime I got sick with the cold I would always have bronchitis coughing up stuff. Anyway through out my childhood and into my adulthood I ended up having fairly well controlled asthma with medication and plans. If I was near one of my triggers I knew it because I would wheeze, have classics symptoms, etc. One thing that has bugged me to no end that I am trying to figure out is that even during this time in my life, I would ALWAYS get decent results on my peak flow. Meaning even if I found it very hard to breath, I would blow my hardest, and my average would usually stay exactly the same, above the green. I will get back to this in a second...

The last three or fours years of my life have been very difficult. Right now I'm trying to figure out if asthma is still my main problem or if I have more severe COPD issues. I have never smoked in my life and have been told countless times by doctors that you cannot get COPD from not smoking, yet I've read in books and online from others that you can if you have been exposed to triggers for a very long period of time. Both of my parents growing up smoked, we lived in a very moldy old house (it was a pioneer house 200 years old, in MA) and I didn't get out much. The main symptoms I have now are:

1. I will wake up in the morning and not be able to get a full breath of air. I will use my abuterol (rescue) inhaler, and it will only open my airways a little bit. My nebulizer machine will do a much better job, but my airways go back to being closed up after a few hours. This feeling stays with me through out most of the day, and sometimes eases up a bit during the night.

2. I will constantly cough up yellow mucus from my chest, with very solid color. No blood.

3. I cough constantly, and have been asked if I'm okay many times by my friends or co workers.

So with these symptoms, it has been very hard to live happily, and I have been to about three different physicians and two different specialist in the last few years. I am not going to name names, but I will be honest; I feel like I got no help whatsoever. They have told me because my peak flow looks good and that my chest doesn't sound too bad or has little tightness that I'm okay. I have tried medications for a long period of time like singular, advair, ventolin, flonase and some others with little to no effect that I could see. I have had an x ray done on my chest and blood tests, but they come back okay.

A few more points. One is that I am allergic to many things, including cat dander, dust mites, blue grass, dog dander, oak, rabbit, and a few others. I grew up with animals so I'm sure that didn't help, but I live with my girlfriend now and we have no pets, I have a HEPA filter machine, I clean on a regular basis and follow most steps to a asthma free home.

The last point and something I thought might be the problem to all of this is that I know I have very bad acid reflux. No matter what diet I have tried (low acidity, GERD diet), I will always feel the food come up my throat and feel the need to burp alot. This only started getting worse the last three or four years of my life (just like the asthma symptoms). I thought maybe I was aspirating the food or liquid into my lungs, but my gastro doctor told me I wasn't and said I have low acidity levels. =/

Anyway sorry for such a long post, but this is really effecting my life. I used to work out and exercise every other day when I was in my early twenties, but now it's so much harder to do because of this and I feel like I've gotten no help from my doctors. They give me an asthma action plan which does nothing because my triggers never happen; I always feel like this and
symptoms are always on full alert. My peak flow is useless to me because my numbers don't waver and I've never been below green. Any advice would really, really be appreciated and I welcome it good or bad.
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