How to clear throat mucus when you can not swallow. Salt/Soda rinses not w

My husband has been on tube feedings since Oct 2011. He had cancer on his epiglottis (the flap over his trachea) and now no longer take any food or drink by mouth.

Along with all the emotional aspects of no longer being able to eat and swallow---my husband has mucus constantly drying within his throat and he struggles to get it out.

We have been told to gargle with salt water and baking soda--however it hardly helps remove the mucus.

Does anyone know of a device that can be used to extract the mucus? Perhaps something that goes through the nose and does not have as much "gag effect" ?

Thanks in advance--

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I only know of the suction pump through the mouth like in the hospitals have, but believe they are available for home care. Sleeping on an incline helps with mucus. Seltzer water is good for mucus too to rinse eith and rinsing with papaya juice. Maybe put both together if your husband can tolerate. A little odd is meat tenderizer, but actually papaya and meat tenderizer was used for chymopain injections for disc therapy to treat slipped discs. They have pretreated oral swab sponge brushes on sticks that ate good o get out mucus in hidden places. God luck, and I wish you both well.

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We bought a DeVILLBLISS home suction machine from

Our insurance company first rented us one from Apria but when I saw they were paying

190 per month rent, we bought one for 190 bucks total. Equiv to one months rent.

If you can't afford the cost, a doc can write rx for the rental, and get it delivered with training

thru Apria. We use a cath type attachment to get into small spaces with the suction.

And yes, sleeping on an incline is best for some.

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Islander1234 & Tac11

Thank you so much for your feedback. The mucus seems to make his voice fade in and out. I'm thinking it might be getting on his vocal cords.

Thanks again,

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Hi there,

To those I would add a good room humidifier, and if you have home air circulation, raise the humidity level in your house if you're in dry conditions. If you don't know how, ask around first, you don't want too much moisture in your house, it can condense and cause water damage.

Number 2, he could definitely try over the counter Guaifenesin, better known as Mucinex. Its job is to slow and stop production of mucous by an appreiciable amount, seems to work for about 8 to 10 hours pretty well. I take it at its max dose of 200 mg, twice a day (AM and before night sleep). Not a miracule cure, but definitely helps me a lot. I bring a bunch up in the morning and sometimes halfway through the night, and the rest of the day is better. Its not very expensive, and it if helps, totally worth it. No side effects or anything, it just wont work. Its been in cough medicine for years, in this form it just doesn't have all that other unneeded cough med crap with it, that could cause harm. It was recommend to me by my Rad Onc, and my Medical (chemo) Onc agreed and neither had concerns about interactions with other drugs or anything.

All my best wishes,

Mr Ninja

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We just ordered a personal steam inhaler.....Mable was the brand?? Sorry, heading off to work or I would look it up.

As so not to humidify the whole room and create a mold issue, but the furnace is drying out the place bad

so we figured on-demand steam, and lower the thermostat whenever we can, should also help thin the mucous

and sooth all those oral tissues. Good luck!

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As mentioned above, the suction machine works well and can be used at home. Personally, I use a wooden tongue depressor to wipe off any mucous that has collected on the roof of my mouth. I do this 2 or 3 times daily in conjunction with gargling with warm water. I use a spoon to lightly remove any mucous that has accumulated on my tongue. Maybe this can help you. Good luck!

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I also have been unable to swallow since Dec'07. Getting rid of mucus is a full time job. I used to use Sudafed to dry up the mucus. But that backfired a couple of months ago. The dried up, thick mucus got hung up in my airway and they had to call the Emergency Response folks to haul my butt to the ER. I could HARDLY breathe. I tried everything I knew to dislodge the blockage. About three hours later the mucus just moved on its own and as fast it blocked my airway it cleared. I now use Mucinex every 6 hours to thin the mucus. A lot easier to deal with. I cannot gargle very well because the tongue cancer was in the base of my tongue which had to be removed. I aspirate what I try to gargle. So I use my finger to scrape the back of my tongue. I then use the palm of my hand as a bowl and suck water into my mouth at the faucet. Swish and forcefully spit. I repeat this many times a day and most of the time the mucus comes out with the water. I try to stay well hydrated and thereby mitigating the buildup of thick mucus. Not a lot of fun getting rid of the thick stuff all the time but it sure beats spending time in ambulances and emergency rooms!

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It has been three years since I had radiation for my head and neck cancer and I have learned a few tricks. Use lemon juice, only a couple of drops or so needed with water to wash out mouth or gargal to get deeper. The lemon disolves the mucus and then you can clear it out. Most of the time it will take a few times but it is most effective. Good luck Gary

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Wow, we are going to try a few of these good ideas too. Thank you everyone! He tried mucinex a while back, not sure why we didn't stick with it, will try again.


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Hi, I'm in the middle of these same problems. Radiation ended yesterday (35 treats). Thick mucus, hurts like hell to expel due to pain in throat. I was given the Guaifenesin to deal with mucus but it did not seem to reduce volume. Maybe I did not take enough? I just received a pump and it helps remove the mucus after it has built up. Good luck you will be in my prayers.

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Hi everyone, Thought we would give our ideas on how to get rid of the mucous. Bob gargles with warm salt water when he gets up in the morning and gags and spits out the mucous. I then use a moistened dentips swab by Medline to clean the inside of his mouth. It seems to remove the mucous really well. Do this procedure several times until I think I have removed all the stuff. Do the top, sides and tongue. After that I put Biotene PBF Oral Rinse on the swab and swab his mouth completely. This has seemed to be the best program so far that we have tried. Probably do it 2/3 times a day. He also splashes water into his mouth and spits it out whenever he is in the bathroom. With the mucous and dry mouth you have to keep continuously after it. I purchased the swabs on ebay and got a large box (250) for around $27. Hope this helps. In regard to the lemon juice I would think it might irritate and sores that are in the mouth. Just a thought. Best wishes to all.

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