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What causes white foamy sputum when suffering from COPD?

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Posted on Tue, 7 Oct 2014
Question: I have COPD and I have been having more frequent exacerbations. I believe brought on by allergy season and/or a cold coming on. I'm concerned because my cough has gotten worse and it is accompanied by near inability to breath follow by expulsion of white foamy sputum. What the heck is the white foamy sputum?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar (31 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
COPD needs multi modality treatment.

Detailed Answer:
Hi XXXX, myself Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar, I am practising Pulmonologist in XXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXX Thanks for you query in HCM. COPD demand multi modality treatment.Besides drugs many other things you have to follow simultaneously. There is a GOLD guideline for diagnosing and staging (severity) of COPD. So I will advice you to consult Pulmonologist first and get done chest x ray and PFT (Pulmonary Function Test).
The treatment of COPD
1. Smoking cessation. It is the pillar stone of the treatment. So if you are smoker, quit smoking immediately.
2. Enroll in pulmonary rehabilitation programme where chest physiotherapy is available. This will help you in expectorating sputum.
3. Inhaled drugs in the form of Meter Dose Inhaler (MDI) with spacer. The best drugs are Long Acting Beta 2 Agonist(LABA) with Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICS) and long acting Anticholinergic.
4. Adult respiratory vaccination with pneumococcal and influenzae vaccines.
So for all these you have to consult Pulmonologist. And the most common cause for COPD exacerbation ( your case) is infection. So get done chest x ray and start antibiotics. I will also suggest you to take advair (LABA +ICS) twice daily (morning and night) and ambutrol 3-4 times a day. And make sure that your technique is proper.
To conclude my answer I will advice you to consult Pulmonologist snd discuss these things with him.
Hope I have solved your query. I will be happy to answer more queries if you have. Wish you good health. Thanks.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Raju A.T
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Follow up: Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar (45 minutes later)
Thank Dr. Bhavsar for your response. Once I was able to read through your english, I understand your response.

However, my primary question was not answered. What is the white foamy sputum? I have never had this and now it is a regular daily occurrence. So to reiterate, my concern and question is: what is the white foamy sputum? I'm afraid that it is part of the end stage COPD/Emphysema symptoms. IF possible, please answer me.

You are correct I definitely need to see a pulmonologist. As my primary care family physician doesn't really seem to care or ever answer my questions. I will begin my search for a pulmonologist that I can afford.

Thanks again,
XXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar (14 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
uncontrolled COPD is the cause.

Detailed Answer:
Hi XXXX. The main symptoms of COPD are
Cough, sputum production and shortness of breath. If you have infection in lung which is quite common in COPD, you have more cough and sputum. So in my opinion you have white foamy cough because of
1. Poor control of COPD
2 . Infection in lungs.
So once you get proper control of COPD and infection, your white cough will decrease.
Hope I have cleared your query. I will be happy to help you if you have more queries. Wish you good health. Thanks.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Raju A.T
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Answered by
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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonologist

Practicing since :2008

Answered : 14936 Questions

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What causes white foamy sputum when suffering from COPD?

Brief Answer: COPD needs multi modality treatment. Detailed Answer: Hi XXXX, myself Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar, I am practising Pulmonologist in XXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXX Thanks for you query in HCM. COPD demand multi modality treatment.Besides drugs many other things you have to follow simultaneously. There is a GOLD guideline for diagnosing and staging (severity) of COPD. So I will advice you to consult Pulmonologist first and get done chest x ray and PFT (Pulmonary Function Test). The treatment of COPD 1. Smoking cessation. It is the pillar stone of the treatment. So if you are smoker, quit smoking immediately. 2. Enroll in pulmonary rehabilitation programme where chest physiotherapy is available. This will help you in expectorating sputum. 3. Inhaled drugs in the form of Meter Dose Inhaler (MDI) with spacer. The best drugs are Long Acting Beta 2 Agonist(LABA) with Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICS) and long acting Anticholinergic. 4. Adult respiratory vaccination with pneumococcal and influenzae vaccines. So for all these you have to consult Pulmonologist. And the most common cause for COPD exacerbation ( your case) is infection. So get done chest x ray and start antibiotics. I will also suggest you to take advair (LABA +ICS) twice daily (morning and night) and ambutrol 3-4 times a day. And make sure that your technique is proper. To conclude my answer I will advice you to consult Pulmonologist snd discuss these things with him. Hope I have solved your query. I will be happy to answer more queries if you have. Wish you good health. Thanks.