Let's talk sputum

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Greetings,

I've had BX for three years, colonized with MSSA (staph). My sputum is typically a greyish green. But sometimes I cough up what looks like brownish/dark green "rice". These nuggets have the consistency and shape of rice - can't think of a better way to describe them.

Ideally I'd like to submit this "sputum rice" to the lab, but I don't always have a sample cup ready when I cough one up. They can be hard to predict! I also asked my allergist doc about them, but he has no idea.

I am wondering if anyone has had similar "rice" sputum, and happens to know what these are? I'm also curious if others only cough up sputum during exacerbations, or is it a regular occurrence?

Thanks! And many apologies if you're reading this during lunch.

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23 Replies

  • Posted

    Wow, that's interesting! I've never heard of something like that. 

    Here's a tip, always have 5 or 6 sample cups at home, you never know when you're going to need them, and when you do, you won't have to go to the pharmacy. And if the good sputum sample decides to come up in the evening, keep it in the fridge!

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    • Posted

      Good idea! I never thought to keep them in the fridge - I'll definitely try that next time. Thanks!

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    • Posted

      Thus far-reaching I'm not colonized with anything - and I am thankful for each day without! I cough up gunk all the time, with the aid of mucus thinners, an A Cappella, and now a Smart Vest (percussion vest). I've been in exacerbation most of the time for a year, possibly 2; on antibiotics much of the time since August.

      Twice I've coughed up pieces of soft rice, but unfortunately must've been on ABs at the time as they were whitish. Not a clue!

      My new pulmo absolutely wants me working to get the gunk up & out. I know other pulmos who disagree with that philosophy. As far as I'm concerned, the latter & their philosophy helped get me into bronchiectasis. They ignored my increasing coughing, etc. But that's just IMHO.

      I hope someone can tell us what these are.

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    • Posted

      Shirley - this is what the peeps from the laboratory told me to do, because I can almost never bring up sputum in the morning, so I usually produce my sample in the evening and keep it in the fridge. Before you get it checked, we can only guess what it is, but be sure to let us know once you've found out. smile

      Aitarg - always listen to your gut (lungs in this case). My family tried convincing me I should forget about my condition and live life like a normal person, which resulted in me neglecting myself and ending up in hospital. We have to take care of ourselves and take things slow if we feel we can't do it.

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  • Posted

    Hi shirley i cough sputum up as well i belive in the past ive coughed wat looks like rice but neva gaveit thought until now u need to make sure you always ave sputum jar at hand i keep couple at hand but next time my sputum looks like some pieces rice i will make sure it gets checked out i do get bad days wen cough sputum up most days i do belive its regular dont know about u but takes lot out of you i feel like got no enegy fall asleep just wen im sat im at doctors next week i will mention these rice things see if i can find out will let u know ope u feel better soon
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  • Posted

    Shirley,I also have bx and psydonomas. I had at one time (ABPA)  Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis. My Doctor does not think I have this anymore but when I did I was coughing up exactly what you are describing but to me the rice thing resembled a little worm. 
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    • Posted

      Hi Dale, I had hypersensitivity pneumonitis which ultimately led to the BX. Turns out our birds were causing the pneumonitis bouts, and we had to find a new home. No longer dealing with pneumonitis anymore, fingers crossed. I wonder if this is similar to the ABPA? Yeah, sometimes the rice looked wormy  - or like short pine needles.

      I took a pic of these green rice/worms to show my doctor. But a few days later, while showing unrelated pics to my family, my sister pointed to the sputum photo and said "what's THAT??" I quickly erased it before she got a closer look.

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  • Posted

    Shirley,

    Years ago, then I was having a lot of breathing/coughing issues and had my first few bronchoscopies, afterwards, I would cough up little dark colored bits that looked like dirt. My doctor said it was the little fine hairs that line the airways to help move the mucus up and out of the lungs. They get damaged with pneumonia and infection, died off and are coughed up. Resulting in even more of a struggle to cough up mucus.

    What you are experiencing maybe something else and should be mentioned to your doctor.

    Beth

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  • Posted

    Looks like we all bring up all sorts of stuff!! I sometimes get little lumps of jelly! Anyone else get that?
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    • Posted

      $jean,

      I also cough up pea size lumps, and as long as it white or light yellow in color, it means no infection, just congestion which is part of the illness.

      Beth

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    • Posted

      4jean, almost all of my sputum has a jelly-like consistency. (I am so glad we are able to have this convo without pics lol) When I'm sicker than normal it becomes more runny. But jelly is my baseline.

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  • Posted

    This is all very helpful! I now have an extra lab cup, and will have the "rice" analysed as soon as I can.

    Hmmmm ... I'm now wondering if my daily grey/green sputum is normal or not - not that there are any "normal"s with BX. My doctor is very conservative when it comes to antibiotics - which on one hand I appreciate. But I worry that an active infection may be speeding up the damage to my lungs.

    Right now I cough up less than a tablespoon. I've read that some people cough up half a cup or so?

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    • Posted

      Hi shirley i myself sometimes cough up small amounts of sputum then next its quite bit only 2 weeks ago i ad 10day course of antibotics been to doc 2 day now gave me 3 days of antibotics plus dont know if u same but i ave constant pain in chest feel tired most of time stii

      Waiting to ave physo to help get crap up ow can they tell if ur lungs are getting clearer

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    • Posted

      It's a rare day when my total production, s as little as 1 tablespoon. Without the mucus thinners, I can spend hours working the stuff all the way up, and that is exhausting. I suspect there's something familial for me both in quantity and in the thickness. My father & one who f my brothers were massive spitters and what they spat was really thick. I only know this from spending so much of our lives travelling in Texas & Mexico for hunting. Without my mom along they'd roll down the car window & spit. When I got old enough to be assigned car-washing duties, I used to wonder about these horrible hard things on the car doors. Almost impossible to get off, far worse than road tar. Took me a while to figure out what the stuff was, at which point I said they could wash the cars themselves!

      My doc says we bronchiectases, how's that for a new word, each have our own baseline hue. What's okay for one means infection in another, so it takes time to figure this out. But mine also acquires a particular taste when things are getting bad. I don't run fevers so I have to rely on these other signals.

      I too am glad of no photos, and am quite sure that no one wants to go further into "flavors." ;-p

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    • Posted

      I have to spit out of window when im driving its not nice to keep sputum in ur mouth dont about u but just latley food drink dont taste right plus if i ave right bad coughin bout it makes me sick but just glad im not alone with this illness
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    • Posted

      You're sure right Tony: can't keep this stuff in your mouth because, well there might be more coming, lol. I go through mountains of lotion-laden tissue. I tried hankies but they're too rough on my face & mouthwash ,,, and then there's the immediate soak or wash so the stuff doesn't set. There's always a box of tissues handy between the front seats.

      My father didn't have our disease so didn't have our urgency. He always carried his own hankie in one pocket and another spare for the womenfolk in the other pocket. I imahine

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    • Posted

      Oops, doesn't matter.

      Yes it's nice not to be alone. It sounds like you're as prolific as I am. No fun! I've just figured out that even if we figured out a way for me to travel, I'm never staying in anyone's home again. For them to have to listen to me and then of course I'm taking over their trash allotment with all my tissues!

      If anyone had told me 40 years ago that my smoking would lead to a nebulizer, a percussion vest and all these blasted used tissues, and especially to rapt attention to & participation in chats about the color & consistency of mucus ,,, I would've lit another unfiltered camel & walked away. Not me - Ha!

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    • Posted

      Wow!! What a horrible way to become acquainted with sputum up close & personal! From here on out I'll think twice against leaning against any unfamilar car doors lol.

      I agree with what you're saying about establishing a baseline - I guess I'm still trying to figure out what mine is. But I understand the aberrant foul "taste". It's gross. For me, it's a sure sign of an active infection.

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    • Posted

      Yes aitàrg im same loads loads tissues pill popping my dad ad bad chest was coughin up like me but dont think he ad bronchiestsis wat gets me is wen i go to docs first thing they ask do u smoke ive neva smoked im putting this down to working in construction i worked with tarmac asbestos but im trying to find out wat causes bronchiestis if anyone else knows wat causes this nasty dieseas

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    • Posted

      Hi shirley dont think people understand this foul taste i can sit down ave lovley meal in front of me then go of it dont know if u are the same i wud give owt to get rid of coughin this sputum up im worse first thing in morn last thing at nite but wen sputum bad its same during day does get u down all the pill popping
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    • Posted

      Hi Tony, I also experience a lack of appetite when there's an active infection - but especially with some of the antibiotics. After taking Rifampin for 10 days, I lost 10 pounds. The nausea was beyond anything I've ever experienced!

      When I was first diagnosed with BX, I read that one of the side effects was anorexia. Whaaa??? Can a lung problem really trigger an eating disorder?? But I'm now realizing it's a lack of appetite - perhaps from the antibiotics, or perhaps from the infection itself. I wonder how many others have lost weight as a BX side effect.

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    • Posted

      Shirley,

      When I have a bad infection, my appetite goes way down. I once had walking pneumonia that was not diagnosed for weeks. At the end of it all, I had lost 15 lbs. My husband was getting concerned about me being under weight (I'm 5'6" and normally weight 125-130 lbs). I would force myself to eat protien bars. I have since gained the 15 ibs back.

      I had read that people with breathing issues use 10% more calories just for breathing and moving around. Lungs and heart have to work harder using more calories. That and with low appetite when sick, can cause weight loss.

      Beth

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    • Posted

      Hi shirley i ave not lost weight but wen i ave chest infection it puts me of my food i still get nausea its seems to be wen im coughin its not very nice i try to eat healthy most days but some days dont feel like eating ive ad 2 lots of antibotics looks like going back for more its nice to know there is someone out there who suffers same as me
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