Would a warm drink at night help break up the fluids in his chest?

5 answers | Last updated: Oct 09, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband is 54 years old. He has congestive heart failure, COPD, diabetes and high blood pressure. He cannot sleep at night due to shortness of breath, fluid backups and constant coughing. He also has a rattling in his chest. I feel helpless because there is nothing I can do to help him. We try the inhalor which works for a moment. He uses direutics to try and pull the fluids off his body. For some reason, his blood pressure and sugar level is elevating. He is very conscious of his diet; so we do not know what is causing these to elevate. I have heard that you shouldn't drink cold water at night; that before you go to bed, you should have something warm to drink to break up the fluids in your chest. Does this help? Is there anything else we can do to make his condition better.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

You sound like you are very worried about your husband, which is understandable. He is young, and has many serious health conditions. First of all, I hope that he is seeing his primary care provider frequently, and they are aware of his problems. If the above symptoms are new, you should let his doctor know right away, as he could have a respiratory infection or pneumonia. You mention that his blood sugar is high and his blood pressure is also out of control. This signifies to me that he is under stress from his illnesses, and he needs more medical intervention to help him gain some control.

With that being said, several thoughts pop into my head when I read your letter, which I have listed below: 1) It sounds like his COPD is not under control. He may need a stronger inhaler, or even nebulized breathing treatments to help his breathing and cough. He may need to see a pulmonologist for more help with his COPD. 2) One of the best ways to control CHF is to watch his fluid and salt intake. This will help him prevent excess fluid from going into his lungs. You can weigh him daily and see if his weight increases more than 2 pounds in one day. If this happens, you can call his doctor's office, as he may need more diuretics to get that extra fluid weight off. 3) Sleep apnea can cause difficulty with sleeping and breathing at night. Is your husband overweight? If so, he may have sleep apnea. Ask his primary health provider if he is at risk, as he may need to be tested for this.

I know you would like to help your husband as much as you can. So, I suggest: 1) Get him to stop smoking if he is a smoker. There is nothing better he could do to help his lungs or heart than this. 2) Watch his diet. Again, salt and extra fluids could make his heart failure worse. Also, he needs to watch his sugar and carbohydrate intake to help keep his blood sugar under better control. 3) If he is making alot of phlegm with his cough, he could try an over the counter medication like Mucinex twice a day to see if that helps him stop coughing so much. 4) He should avoid dairy products if they make him cough/produce phlegm. 5) Hot tea may help him relax before bed, and may soothe his cough, but I think this would only help for an hour or so. Cold water can cause constriction of the throat, which may be irritating and contribute to cough. 6) Have him sleep in bed with his head elevated by placing several pillows behind his back. This may help his breathing and cough.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Community Answers

I do care : ) answered...

I am a Certified Nurses Aide, not a RN. But my sister didn't have insurance so she couldn't be dignosed with COPD or CHF. I don't want to scare you just share with you to help your husband.

First I don't think milk will help at all. Milk causes more congestion. I believe your husband needs O2 that is why he can't breath. My sister 02 was 89 and one week later was in the low 80's about two and half weeks later she passed away.

Your husband needs a good Cardiologist and Pulminary doctor that watches him very careful. We did not know she had sever COPD or CHF till she past away. I learned with out O2 your body looses its red blood cells that weaken your muscles and its hard for you to walk, also attacks your other organs e.g. kidneys, liver, heart.

He needs 02 for his brain, lungs , heart and his body. Both doctors should work together to give him the best care that he can get. There is medication your husband can take for CHF, talk to his heart doctor.

Also he should have a huvor chair to get around the house to save the 02 in him till he gets stonger. My sister was falling down a lot, my sister sound like she had her lungs full of congestion, and she had a rattle. She got so she couldn't sleep unless she slept sitting up. We didn't know she needed 02.

My sister was 66 years old, and they gave her the 02 to late and only gave her 2 letters and she was told to use it 24 hours a day. It helped her, but it was to late for her, and she got confussed because of lack of O2.

Have your husbands blood checked from his wrist to see how much 02 and carbon (sorry I can't remember the full name) and the Pulminary doctor should check him.

I also have COPD, and what saved my life I took Advair and Pro Air it made me cough all the clear mucus up and then I was able to breath and I stopped coughing. Or I would of died in 2008, I had to retire early "I still get short of breath and take Advair and Pro Air to breath.

I will pray for your husband, and if you get right doctors and the right care for him, he will be so thankful and fell so much better. Don't let the doctors ecnore him and put things off till they think he needs something. I know I lost my sister 10/21/10

The Advair has a steroid in it your husband may gain weight, I did, I just had to watch my sodium to loose the weight.

God Bless your husband and you in the name of Jesus , Amen

Mustangsally91 answered...

Hello, My husband also has CHF along with diabetes and was 57 when diagnosed. His doctor hasn't a clue as to how this happened; he's been told a virus to lack of exercise or due to his diabetes, his doctor just doesn't know why. I am a retired nurse and have had many patients with these problems. My suggestion to you is to get your husband in to see his doctor if he's having shortness of breath and you can hear rattling....this is not normal. I also think that using an inhaler can cause problems with the CHF but this is a Catch 22 since your husband also has COPD; does he smoke? If so, he MUST STOP if he wants to live! Goodness what a dilemna. Before my husband was diagnosed, his doctor told him it was anxiety and gave him Ativan and then 2 days later, my husband couldn't even sleep for the shortness of breath. Back to the doctor who then prescribed, Advair and sent him for a chest x-ray. The Advair almost killed him for it contains a steroid, it caused my husband's heart to race terribly and it was so frightening to sit and watch and not know what to do, so I understand the helplessness you're feeling. When the results of the x-ray came back, my husband's doctor lied to him, telling him it showed nothing wrong. Two days later, my husband was in the ER getting blood work, CT Scan with dye and he gets told he has fluid in his lungs, an enlarged heart and has CHF. For many days after, I truly didn't know if I could handle this news. I could go on but just know that before the CHF, my husband had almost died twice from a bowel rupture and then a major car accident in '08... CHF was like the last straw. It threw me into having anxiety attacks and waking each morning wondering if my husband had survived the night. Do know that anytime someone with diabetes has a spike with their blood glucose, and as you mentioned your husband is good at watching his diet, then this certainly means an infection. Get him into his doctor as soon as possible. This is so important and not something to take lightly. No one should have to go through what is happening to your husband, having shortness of breath keeping him from sleeping. Not sure what dosage of diuretic he's taking but that needs to be addressed if his shortness of breath has worsened but again, this could be due to an infection and can only be diagnosed by a doctor. All these things need to be evaluated. With the rattling that certainly means fluid in his lungs but is it caused by his CHF or could it be pneumonia? With the elevated blood glucose, this sounds more like pneumonia and drinking something warm before bed is not going to help. He needs to watch his salt intake and well as fluids for the salt holds water, causing swelling and of course the fluid intake can affect the amount he gets in his lungs from the CHF. He needs to weigh himself every morning....no increases in weight for this too means extra fluid in his system.
I can suggest you start your husband on 600 mg of C0Q-10 immediately! His heart is starved for it with CHF and it will strengthen his heart. My poor husband takes about 20 pills a day. His doctor has him on 3 prescription medications, everything else is supplements. I also give my husband, L-Carnitine, Magnesium (500 mg), D-Ribose 750 mg. (which strenthens the heart muscle) athletes use it to give them more stamina and it is great for those who've suffered a heart attack. Also, check out Dr. Bruce West. My husband takes Cataplex B which is a B vitamin you won't find in any over the counter vitamin. It is B4 and it's lacking in heart patients. You see, with the heart being a muscle, it requires many nutrients to keep it healthy and your husband's heart can get stronger if given the right nutrients. Get on the internet and do a search for natural remedies to treat CHF, you'll be amazed. Doctors today won't tell you these things, for they don't know and most would laugh if you told them. They get perks from Drug Companies to force meds on their patients. It is sickening to me and I feel unethical. Doctors need to do their own research and stop relying on people from Drug Companies to do it for them. Most doctors don't even know the side effects of the drugs they prescribe, and as you can tell, I am not one for man-made drugs. I so hope and pray that your husband's health will improve but he needs to be seen by his doctor right away. God bless, I will pray that everything will be ok for your husband. Take matters into your own hands and don't be intimidated by doctors. I've stood up to many in my time and when it comes to my husband of 39 years, NO ONE is going to try and make me feel guilty if I don't agree with them. Good luck. I hope you'll be back to give us an update. Be strong, your husband needs you.

Claire meinerth answered...

I have chf, carotid stenosis, emphemzema, all this was helpful to me hope everyone gets help

A fellow caregiver answered...

I have chf and sleep apnea which has been under control. Recently my sleep problems have started back up. I do have some fluid I am pulling off again with diruetics. I started using my old BiPap machine again and do sleep fine with my BiPap machine at night but if I dont use it I cant sleep. This has been recent in the last month so I have been putting fluid back on. Get him into a sleep study and check his weight frequently to make sure he is not putting fluid back on.