Thank you for responding.
I am going to tell you what I would tell a patient that presented in my office with similar symptoms and with a similar history. I suspect that this may be Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). I will explain.
The first presentation of COPD is often a history of coughing and early morning phlegm production. The gel like phlegm you describe could be phlegm associated with COPD. COPD is primarily caused by smoking. By the time early morning phlegm develops, there has been significant damage to the lungs. It has been speculated that there is a 50% reduction in functioning. Now, with this being said, it is still an early warning sign. Most people associate COPD with blue lips, fingers, labored breathing, oxygen, and activity limitations. These are all possible symptoms of COPD, but this represents end stages. In your case, slowing the progression is important.
You need to see your provider. You need to have a full physical assessment, and you also need to have some pulmonary function testing. You will want to talk with your provider about smoking cessation. I know that quitting smoking is not an easy task. Talk with your provider about options, such as Chantix or Wellbutrin. Work with your provider to establish a quit plan. Also, talk with your provider about routine pulmonary function testing and possible baseline chest x ray. Again, the key is to slow the progression.
I realize this is a great deal of information. Obviously, I can not substitute as a provider, and you will have to have a diagnosis by your provider, but please feel free to discuss this information I have presented with your provider.
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please let me know.