MIL coughs, spits up and has terrible mucus and drainage down throat. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

MIL coughs, spits up and has terrible mucus and drainage down throat. Any advice?

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She has this at all meals and when she drinks liquids or just moves having her use two pillows at bedtime or she keeps us up for hours coughing and blowing nose. Most times we sit her up in chair for 1/2 to hour until it stops. She has dementia/alz. and just diag. with acid reflux. Nothing is helping. Need advice. She is 96 and doctors just seem to pass it off, I think it is because she is old and they really don't care that much.

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Thank you all for your helpful answers. MIL has no problems with heart or much of anything else. Doesn't like to drink much but keep after her. Trouble is she likes coffee. I give her decaf and also decaf tea and only for lunch and dinner, otherwise she wouldn't drink any water or juice during the rest of the day. Don't give her anything to eat or drink after 7:00 p.m. or will be up for hours listening to the coughing and hacking after she is put into bed for the night. Will try warm water and lemon. Tried lemon in cold water and she says she likes it but doesn't drink that much of it.
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I find better results with geriatric specialists over your average family practice doc or GP. Geriatricians have special education, just like pediatricians do. Blowing off a patient's problems is the doctor's way of saying they have no idea what to do next. See a specialist. It may be worth the trouble. Especially since it seems like there's a lot going on here with your mom besides phlegm.
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Does she have heart failure?
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I went through this with my Mom as well. Ultimately, the pulmonologist ordered a nebulizer. What a struggle that was for her to use, but it did help. The doctors also told us to have her drink plenty of liquids, especially hot ones. I would heat water and add lemon juice and when it was not going to burn her, I had her drink it. AND I was always ready with tissues for what was expectorated. Needless to say, with the dementia, handling the mucous was a challenge. Perhaps if you try the hot liquid a half hour before meals she might be able to get rid of some of the 'junk'.
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Ask her MD to order an adjustable bed for her. Consider a Hospice evaluation if she is also having trouble swallowing liquids.
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It sounds like she has inflammation of her respiratory lining creating the excess mucus. If she doesn't have COPD from other causes, I would suspect that the reflux is responsible for the irritation. A little may be getting into her respiratory system and keeping it irritated. What you're doing keeping her propped up is very good. Is she taking anything for the GERD? If she was able to keep the GERD in check, her respiratory problems may get better.

Doctors often do pass off problems in elderly people because they are expected with age as the body becomes less efficient. Sometimes the treatment can be worse than the problem for them. Don't be too hard on the doctors. Since your mother is 96, someone has been doing a good job with her. Her body just doesn't work as well as it once did. The only suggestion I would make is trying to manage the GERD.
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MIL takes Omeprazole for acid reflux. Make sure she's not allergic to dairy, sometimes that can increase the mucus. Mucinex-D might be helpful, too.
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