General Question

augustlan's avatar

How do I stop my body's never-ending mucus production factory?

Asked by augustlan (46609 points ) September 30th, 2009

About two weeks ago I got a bad case of the flu (presumably H1N1). I feel much better now, but my lungs and nose are still full of ick, (seriously, I could blow my nose for half and hour and not be done, and my chest rattles horribly) and the cough has not totally gone away either. Is there anything I could eat, drink, (or not eat or drink) or medicine I can take that will dry it up?

I have mild asthma and the extra mucus that comes with that is a part of my life, but this is a lot more than normal.

I have taken Mucinex in the past to make it flow freely, but that’s not really a problem at this point.

Aaaand, I smoke. I know it’s not helping me. I know it’s bad for me. I also know I don’t have the willpower to quit anytime soon. Can we just leave that part out of this? Please?

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28 Answers

Shuttle128's avatar

I was thinking the exact same thing yesterday. I’d be extremely interested in any developments. I have a pile 2 feet high of used tissue.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

1. start laying off some of the workers
2. Drugs
3. Stop smoking

mcbealer's avatar

Oh @augustlan I’m so sorry to hear you’re battling this!!

I would suggest limiting, if not completely eliminating, all dairy from your diet for the time being.

Increase your fluid intake (especially h2O) and try to eat as many fresh foods as possible.

To help you along with breathing try to go swimming underwater at a pool. I know it sounds difficult/unlikely/weird, yet something about the chlorine does help clear out sinus cavities.

rooeytoo's avatar

Can you take an antihistamine? They dry me out, make a little crazy too, but since I am always a little crazy it is hard to tell the difference.

evegrimm's avatar

You might try something from Lifehacker (some home remedies that are supposed to work)—be sure to show the “hidden threads” (at the bottom) for some more home remedies.

I remember combining chili powder, vinegar, honey and water (?) to help last year, when I had a horrible flu/cold/sinus thing. It helped, but boy was it nasty! You could always just gargle some hot sauce or just eat lots of hot-n-sour soup.

I would imagine a neti pot or bottle would also help. (It didn’t work for me, but I’ve heard it works best if you keep using it, as more of a maintenance thing than anything else. However, it will make you feel better (briefly).)

Also, Psuedophedrine (i.e. Sudafed—available behind the Pharmacy counter) is super helpful. I practically lived off Wal-Mart brand Sudafed + acetaminophen (I think; helps with aches + pains and generally makes life more livable) when I had a horrible sinus infection/flu. It’s not really drowsy-making, afaik, but it depends on the person.

Feel better soon! (Oh, and, mucus and general icky-ness is a great excuse to drink some nummy tea.)

wildpotato's avatar

Lay on one side for awhile, till your sinuses drain to the side that’s down. Then roll onto your other side. Keep doing this as long as you can stand it, then blow. For some reason this often loosens things up for me. Also, in the shower, turn the water as hot as you can stand and them push your face into the spray and try to breathe the thick mist in. Obviously, angle your face down so you don’t get water in your nose. Good luck!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Afrin (an over-the-counter nasal spray) will temporarily dry your nose right out. It can be habit-forming, so it’s not good for people who have a continual mucus problem, but it sounds like what you have is pretty temporary. Also, some people like me find that it stings like a mofo. Other people don’t notice that. So that’s one option.

gussnarp's avatar

If your chest rattles, go see a doctor. He may give you an inhaler that will help you breathe, which will also help to clear up the chest congestion. Also, mucinex may still help. There’s that “don’t take for a cough with excess mucus” or something like that, but I have no idea what it means. Mucinex has helped me in the past whatever my mucus level. Last time my chest was rattling and the doctor prescribed an inhaler, he also prescribed a mucinex/decongestant combo.

janbb's avatar

Feel better soon, Augustlan.

majorrich's avatar

I swear by irrigating my sinus’. mix water a little salt and some baking soda and flush your sinus with either a large syringe or a neti pot. it removes a lot of mucus and save blowing for longer, especially just before bed

poofandmook's avatar

@augustlan: Can you maybe cut down on the cigarettes? Not quit, but just smoke less? maybe smoke skinny ones like Virginia Slims or Capris, and smoke half of one? Or those shorty Marlboros?

mammal's avatar

Depends upon how radical you are, Arnold Erhet developed a mucousless dietry regime that eliminates mucous from the body completely. By avoiding starch totally, the results are prodigious, but the diet is tough.

poofandmook's avatar

@mammal: There wouldn’t be mucus in our bodies if our bodies weren’t designed to need it in some way. Mucus traps dirt and junk that you breath into your nose and helps you to not get sick as often because that stuff doesn’t have a free passage to your lungs. Among other things, we need mucus. That guy is a quack, plain and simple.

poofandmook's avatar

I totally didn’t spell “breathe” correctly.. gah.

casheroo's avatar

While I was sick with what I presume to be the flu as well, I had to avoid medications because I’m pregnant (joy) So I tried any and all natural methods. I was doing steam treatments about 4 or 5 times a day. Drinking tons of hot tea. I also tried the neti pot to try to clear it out, which really didn’t work so I know it wasn’t a sinus issue :( I went a little drastic and drank some apple cider vinegar. It’s the only thing I could fine online that was safe and might help with my bodily congestion….and I don’t know if it helped or not, but that’s when I started getting better. I put a tablespoon in 8oz of water. Nasty but I do think it helped some.
Oh and cut dairy out for a bit.

JLeslie's avatar

First, coughs generally take 3 weeks to clear. If you smoke it might be longer. Having said that your cough should be improving…meaning limited to bad coughing jags in the morning or if you move around a lot in your sleep, then you might get bad coughing in the middle of night. If your cough persists to be very bad all day for over 3 weeks you need someone to listen to your lungs and maybe a chest X-ray.

For congestion I think Drixoral is best. You get it from behind the pharmacy counter but no scrip needed. Also use DM cough medicine, if you are taking an antihistemine or decongestant, you want to make sure you don’t get duplicate drugs in your cough medicine.

Flu does not usually have a lot of congestion, but you said you are prone to it, so you might not fit the typical routine.

Lastly, make sure your muscous is not green, then you need more antibiotics. I would say Levaquin with those symptoms.

kevbo's avatar

Eat some chiles/hot peppers.

wildpotato's avatar

To those who are saying to not smoke, or to cut down: you probably don’t know this because you aren’t smokers, but if a smoker smokes less or stops suddenly, she will get a lot more mucous. Especially when sick.

poofandmook's avatar

@wildpotato: My ex, who smoked, always felt better when he smoked menthols while he was sick. Coincidence?

Blondesjon's avatar

I’ve heard tell that swinging a black cat COUNTERCLOCKWISE around your head three times, at midnight, over a freshly dug grave can really do absolutely nothing at all.

where did you get that dead cat?

augustlan's avatar

Thanks, everyone, for all the suggestions! Sorry I was away from this question for so long… mod duties sometimes do that.

I already have an inhaler, but haven’t used it in the last few days because I used it so much during the worst of the illness. Maybe I’ll go back to that.

I bought a saline nose spray, but that only helps for a very short time.

I think I’ll cut out the dairy (so hard… I love cheese!) and try an antihistamine.

And, @Blondesjon My black cat is very much alive, thanks. :P

gussnarp's avatar

I know what you mean about the inhaler. When I had one I was sometimes reticent to use it. They don’t really give you a good idea of when you should use it or not, I guess they want you to decide based on how you feel, but I don’t want to pump my lungs full of drugs if they don’t need them.

Velvetinenut's avatar

I found that if I cut back on the dairy products, eggs, sugar (including honey and soft drinks), chillis, oil, bananas, citrus fruits, mangoes, apples, honey pears, chocolate and drank lots of water and did more exercise, I don’t experience much excess mucus production.

But it makes for a slightly meaningless life… I mean… cut back on chocolate, cheese and chillies?

I used to have asthmatic symptoms and was given an inhaler. I hated it and would only use it if it was really bad.

Oh, no daikon radish either.

janbb's avatar

@Velvetinenut That’s it then! I’m giving up daikon radish right away.

What price good health?

Velvetinenut's avatar

LOL! Seriously?

The radish is regarded as Yin. If you really like it, you need to eat it with a bit of ginger which is Yang.

Hmmm…. I’d give up the radish too…. : )

I have smoked cheddar cheese purchased at Margaret River, Perth in the fridge… can’t waste it… Want some?

janbb's avatar

@Velvetinenut Now you’re talking. I’ll be right over!

Pandora's avatar

Whenever that happens to me I do the following.
1. I drink plenty of water.
2. I rinse my nostrils with saline to help clear my nose then I use Afrin no drip with moisterizer. It stays better and your nasal cavities won’t feel so dry.
3. If my sinuses are swollen I drink ginger tea made from fresh ginger. In about an hour, swelling in your sinuses will go down. I found this out by accident with my husband. I gave him ginger tea for his stomach but when he noticed he could easily breathe I looked and noticed his nasal passages cleared up. (he always has severe sinuses and this helps him tremendously.
4. If all else fails try theraflu. They have one for night and one for day. They both work great at clearing your beathing. However the night one may be to strong for someone with asthma. My daughter has asthma and you have to be careful with anything that may dry out your lungs as well. Of course if you would also stop smoking for a while till you recover, that would go a long way into helping you out. Good Luck! Hope this helps.

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