ZocdocAnswersHow can I alleviate my chronic excess phlegm?

Question

How can I alleviate my chronic excess phlegm?

I smoked potent cough inducing cannabis for around 5 years and tobacco in the form of hookah for around 2. Even years later I have to constantly clear my throat and seem to be producing excess mucous which effects my voice and causes it to break. When I went to an ENT, he did a laryngoscopy, and told me my vocal cords were inflamed. He thought I had GERD, but the only symptom I have is the mucous. What could be the cause and what could I do to remedy this condition. It makes me self conscious to talk because it changes the tone of my voice and causes my voice to break like im going through puberty or something. I'm 23 years old, 151 lbs, 5'10", and white. My GP as well as my last doctor say my lung sounds are fine and the problem must be in the upper airway. I'm taking adderal 10mg BID and 40mg of baclofen BID. Exposure to smoke, vaporous chemicals like bleach in an enclosed area, soft drinks, and greasy food tend to make it worse, but it's there all the time.

Answer

Sorry to hear about your symptoms. It sounds like you are taking the right steps to be evaluated, and have even been referred on to a specialist already. Many patients have a hard time accepting the diagnosis of reflux as the cause of their symptoms, especially when they feel that they do not have the normal symptoms of reflux. Fortunately, the treatment for GERD is quite benign, meaning that most people tolerate the medication quite well and have no additional side effects. For that reason, it is a common place to start the treatment of symptoms such as those that you are describing. For example, a several month trial of an acid suppressing medication has a high likelihood of being effective at treating a cough for many people with evidence of reflux, such as what you say your doctor described. Patients quickly abandon a medication when it does not have rapid effects, but reflux meds are some of those that do take some time before they work at the optimal level. I would recommend that you continue to work with your doctors, and ask for a second opinion as needed. There are obviously other possibilities, and so please speak with your doctor.

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