Know Your Mucus
Last updated: September 2021
If there is one thing us patients with cystic fibrosis have in common, it's mucus! While it is a gross topic and something not a lot of people really talk about, it is a part of our life and mucus is something we deal with daily.
In my case, I cough up mucus every day, several times a day. I do not remember going a day without coughing up mucus and hacking it out a couple of times a day. One thing I had to learn growing up was to learn my mucus. What does that mean? It means that having CF and being a mucus making machine, I began to notice my mucus and notice how different it was depending on how I am feeling and what infection I was going through. As gross as it sounds, even the taste in the mucus would be different based on what I was going through at the time.
We all know that having CF means we make thick mucus, and we find ourselves having to hack it out and spit it out, but have you really noticed about it?
Understanding my mucus
My mucus runs from different textures and colors to taste. When my mucus is clear or white and runny then I can usually go about my day because for me, it just means that I have a bit of allergies, I hate watery mucus because at times it is so much that I feel like I am drowning. I usually stay in the bathroom and cough out as much as I can.
Some days the mucus is super thick and white, and I will usually drink a lot of water because it helps keep me hydrate and get it out. Some moments I have thick yellow mucus, or green or dark mucus and that’s when I know that I have an infection brewing, also the taste is different. It tastes foul and I have learned that it’s time to start antibiotics and go in for a checkup sooner than my usual 3-month checkups.
Having blood in my mucus
Sometimes I will have mucus with blood in it but my doctor has given me my blood allowance levels. I have lung damage so it is normal for me to cough up blood once in a while with my mucus, but always check the color of the blood and the amount of blood because it can be outside your normal amount or indicating something more severe. If you ever cough up blood and you’ve never experienced that before, always call your CF care team and get guidance. Never leave anything to chance.
What is your mucus telling you?
If your mucus colors and tastes is outside of what you consider normal, call your CF care team, and get advice. Having CF means we go through similar things, but it also means that we are each our own individuals, please learn your body and learn what your mucus is telling you.
Learn how you respond to colds, viruses, infections, funguses, and bacteria. You have CF team then learn your triggers and what does what to your body. Our mucus can actually be used as a tool to help us know when we are getting infections and what is going on. When my doctor takes sputum samples it is to learn about my mucus and the bugs in there and the right treatment plan, if ever your mucus is different or outside your normal, seek medical help and advice from your doctor.
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