I became a caregiver for my partner when she was diagnosed with non-specific interstitial pneumonia in 2014. She had a nagging cough which had persisted through November and December into January and February. Finally, we agreed: this was not a normal flu or cold cough. When she came home with the diagnosis, all I knew was that NSIP wasn’t COPD. But it was a serious lung disease causing inflammation of the lungs. We struggled through the early months, getting medicines, changing medicine, and starting supplemental oxygen. She had numerous CT scans and a bevy of doctors; so many that we almost lost count. The biggest surprise was that the cough persisted and worsened. And then the sputum and mucus became prolific. This is an issue of quality of life. The specialists were sympathetic, but nothing seemed to work for the cough and the mucus. I began to ask. Where are the other people who are living with this disease? Yes, it is rare, but there have to be others. We need to know what they know. Then, we found PF Warriors.
It became clear that PF Warriors did know things we needed to know. Things to remedy what doctors really didn’t experience. Like using a full box of tissues in a single day. Or coughing so hard that vomiting was a possibility. Here are five secrets we learned from experienced PF Warriors right away. They have been well worth joining the group.
1. Fisherman’s Friend Cough Lozenges
PF patients most often recommended cough drop is Fisherman’s Friend. Advertised as an all-natural cough suppressant, these cough lozenges contain menthol, capsicum, dextrin, eucalyptus oil, natural licorice, sugar, tragacanth. We have yet to find a better cough drop. We order them by the case. Other cough drops are sometimes recommended, but none as much as these little brown gems.
2. Mucinex Expectorant
Mucinex contains guaifenesin, which is an expectorant and will help thin the mucus, making it easier to clear. Some patients take 600 mg twice a day. We choose the tablet without any pain reliever or decongestant. Please check with your doctor, as you would with any other drug.
Honey may act as a natural cough suppressant. I am now adding two teaspoons of honey to a turmeric tea for my partner to drink morning and evening. My partner has even been known to swallow a teaspoon full of honey to help alleviate coughing and sooth her throat.
4. Stay Hydrated
How often have you heard to drink 8 glasses of water each day? In addition to needing the water for your general health, the water can help clear mucus. Supplemental oxygen can be very drying, so my partner’s doctor has also recommended a cool mist humidifier. While coughing, patients say that room temperature water is better to drink than really cold or really hot drinks.
5. Drink Pineapple Juice
Many patients recommend pineapple juice or bromelain supplements. The research community does not have clear, scientific evidence of its ability to help with cough and mucus. Still, enough patients say it has worked for them that I consider it worth trying. And, it has few side effects. Some people say the acidic nature irritates GERD and causes heartburn. Other than that, it has natural vitamins and anti-inflammation properties, so we are willing to try it. Some people say a 6-ounce serving daily helps their cough. Other people mix pineapple juice with honey as a drink to take morning and evening.
I’ve learned much more about the rare lung diseases that fall under the pulmonary fibrosis category since joining PF Warriors. These five tips are the most valuable advice we didn’t get from doctors or therapists. What I’ve learned is there are things you can do to make life better while living with fibrotic lung disease. And that is something to be thankful for.