Catching a Cold with Lung Cancer

As lung cancer survivors who are going through any forms of treatment, we all know the dangers of getting sick. My entire life, I have caught a cold when there is a drastic change in the weather. Here in Northeast Ohio, that can happen daily. Last week was cold enough to wear a jacket. Today (and yesterday) the high is over 90 degrees. Needless to say, my nose and head feel like they are stuffed with cotton. Memorial Day is not as enjoyable from the air conditioning but I sure do feel better.

With a cold comes more worrying

I discovered since having both lobes of my left lung removed, I breathe through my mouth quite a bit. I try to inhale with my nose and exhale with my mouth, but it doesn't always work. Especially the past few days since I have an extremely stuffy nose. My fear is always the same - that my cold will go into my chest - and this time, as usual, it has. So when I catch a cold, air doesn't seem to get in my nose and mouth breathing sounds like a freight train with my wheezing.

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Fighting off my cold

Since I have started on immunotherapy, it is not recommended that I take steroids and that is the usual go to when we have breathing problems. So what do I do? My physicians only recommend DayQuil for my nose/sinuses and Mucinex (NOT DM) to help eliminate the congestion in my chest. Throughout my cancer journey, no one has ever recommended Mucinex and quite frankly, I never thought to take it but I must tell you it is a miracle drug.

Obviously, it doesn't help with nasal congestion, but my chest feels 80% better after my first dose. I don't feel a tightness in my chest which I've come to know on a daily basis. I've experimented on how to take it to maximize its efficiency. You must drink an 8 oz glass of water with each dose, but I follow that up with a hot cup of tea. The warmth seems to help loosen up whatever may be in my chest. If I start this regimen on Day 1, I have a much better chance of the cold not lasting very long and a better chance of it not affecting my quality of life while suffering from chest congestion.

No two immune systems are the same

As always, I am not a physician and suggest you discuss this with your medical team. Everyone is different and medications affect everyone in a different way. Every one of us has a compromised immune system that reacts differently. This is what works for me and helps eliminate my symptoms as soon as possible.

Now, let me go -- I have to run and blow my nose.......again!

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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