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Cause phlegm: How To Get Rid Of Phlegm – Forbes Health


How To Get Rid Of Phlegm – Forbes Health

Table of Contents

  • What Is Phlegm?

  • What Is the Difference Between Phlegm and Mucus?

  • Causes of Phlegm

  • How to Clear Phlegm

  • When to See a Doctor

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Excess phlegm can build up in the throat and chest for a number of reasons, leading to bothersome symptoms, such as a sore throat, cough or difficulty breathing. While there are many potential causes, excess phlegm could result from a temporary respiratory infection—or be a sign of a more serious health problem like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Luckily, there are several ways to get rid of phlegm. Read on to learn more about what phlegm is, what causes it to develop and how to ease the discomfort it can cause.

What Is Phlegm?

Phlegm—sometimes called sputum—is a thick, sticky substance that is produced by the body to help keep the airways and respiratory tract clear of irritants, according to Shawn Nasseri, M.D., a board-certified ear, nose and throat specialist in Beverly Hills, California. While phlegm serves an important purpose in protecting your lungs from damage, it can sometimes accumulate in excess amounts, leading to a sore throat, persistent cough and other unpleasant symptoms.

“Phlegm can be caused by respiratory infections (such as a cold, flu or sinusitis), allergies or an irritation in the nose, throat or lungs,” says Dr. Nasseri. “You don’t need to have a lung disease, such as lung cancer or cystic fibrosis, but they can cause phlegm as well.”

Oftentimes, phlegm has a green or yellow color, indicating that it may contain bacteria or other debris. “Phlegm turns yellow with increased white blood cells, which signal that the body is trying to fight an infection like bronchitis or pneumonia,” says Mahmud Kara, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine physician and founder of KaraMD, a line of supplements focused on digestive support, heart health and reducing inflammation.

To get rid of excess phlegm and restore normal breathing function, it’s essential to identify and address the underlying cause of your condition.


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What Is the Difference Between Phlegm and Mucus?

Phlegm and mucus are very similar and are often confused with one another. Phlegm, however, is a thicker substance that’s produced by the body in response to irritation or infection, while mucus is a thinner fluid that helps to keep the respiratory tract lubricated, says Dr. Nasseri. “Phlegm is formed more in the lower respiratory tract and lungs,” he adds.

Mucus, meanwhile, forms in the mucous membranes lining the airways and respiratory tract. This substance helps to trap dust, dirt and other foreign particles before they can enter the lungs. Mucus also keeps the airways moist, which helps prevent them from drying out and becoming irritated.

Causes of Phlegm

There is no single cause of phlegm. Rather, the substance is produced in response to a number of different underlying conditions.

Common causes of phlegm include:

  • Allergies: Allergic reactions cause the body to produce more mucus in an attempt to remove the allergens from the respiratory tract. This can lead to excess mucus production and difficulty breathing.
  • Reflux: Reflux of gastric fluids (stomach fluids) can occur with or without heartburn—also referred to as silent reflux—and can cause phlegm build up.
  • Asthma: An inflammatory disease of the respiratory system, asthma causes the airways to narrow and constrict, making it difficult to breathe. This can cause excess mucus production to protect the lungs from damage.
  • Chronic lung disease: Certain lung diseases, including COPD, cystic fibrosis and emphysema, can cause excess mucus production in the lungs.
  • Sinusitis: Infection or inflammation of the sinuses can lead to increased mucus production. This mucus may drain down the back of the throat. This draining is also known as postnasal drip.
  • Bronchitis: An inflammation of the bronchial tubes, bronchitis is often caused by a virus or bacteria. This condition can cause excess mucus production and difficulty breathing.
  • Smoking: Smoking irritates the respiratory system and can lead to higher levels of phlegm production.

How to Clear Phlegm

If you’re suffering from allergies, asthma or another condition that is causing excess mucus production, it’s important to seek medical treatment. However, in cases where phlegm results from a viral infection, such as the common cold, it will usually resolve on its own within seven to 10 days.

In the meantime, there are steps you can take to help clear your airways and get rid of phlegm.


Drinking plenty of fluids helps to thin out mucus, making it easier to cough up and clear from the airways. Focus on drinking water, and avoid drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine, as these can make your condition worse.

Use a Humidifier

A humidifier will help to keep the air moist, which may reduce irritation in the respiratory tract and lead to less mucus production and coughing. A warm, steamy shower can also help to loosen phlegm if a humidifier is not available.

Use Saline Nasal Spray

Both Dr. Kara and Dr. Nasseri suggest using saline nasal sprays to help relieve congestion and clear the sinuses. This may also help to reduce excess phlegm production in the throat and clear the airways.

Keep Your Head Elevated at Night

Elevating the head of your bed or using extra pillows at night to elevate your head and chest can help to drain phlegm from the sinuses and prevent it from pooling in the back of your throat. This may help to reduce congestion and persistent coughing due to postnasal drip.

Stay Away from Irritants

Dr. Nasseri recommends staying away from irritants such as smoke, dust and pollen that can worsen your condition. Avoiding these triggers may help minimize phlegm production.

Perform Breathing Exercises

Practicing deep, controlled breaths can increase oxygen levels and improve overall lung function. It also promotes proper use of the diaphragm muscles that help you breathe. Airway clearance devices may help control increased phlegm production and ease symptoms as well.

Get Proper Treatment for Your Allergies

If you struggle with allergy-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes and excess mucus production, you may benefit from a personalized treatment plan.

Allergy testing can help to identify the substances that trigger your symptoms so you can avoid them in the future. Medications, such as antihistamines and nasal sprays, can also help to reduce mucus production and provide relief from your symptoms. Consider seeing an allergist for proper treatment.

Partner Offers feature brands who paid Forbes Health to appear at the top of our list. While this may influence where their products or services appear on our site, it in no way affects our ratings, which are based on thorough research, solid methodologies and expert advice. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services

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Stop Smoking

If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Smoking can worsen respiratory conditions and cause excess phlegm buildup. Nicotine, a chemical present in cigarettes, paralyzes cilia—thin, hairlike cells that help to move debris, such as phlegm, out of the airways—in the lungs. This paralyzation prevents the removal of phlegm. If you need help quitting smoking, talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy or other smoking cessation aids.

When to See a Doctor

If you’re struggling to breathe or if your mucus is thick and green or yellow, you may have an infection that requires medical treatment. These symptoms can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as pneumonia.

If you’re coughing up blood or your phlegm contains red streaks, call your health care provider right away. Phlegm of this color may indicate a more serious condition, such as a lung infection. However, blood-colored phlegm could also result from excessive coughing. In either case, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

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Excess mucus production can also be a sign of an allergy or asthma. If you think you may have either of these conditions, it’s important to see a health care professional for proper care. They may request an allergy test or lung function tests to rule out these conditions.

“You should always consult a medical professional when you start to feel sick or different from how you feel on a normal basis, or before adding anything new to your health regimen,” says Dr. Kara. A quick visit with your care team can save you a lot of time and worry down the road.

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Phlegm or Mucus in Throat: Causes, Treatment, and More

Phlegm or Mucus in Throat: Causes, Treatment, and More

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Medically reviewed by Lauren Castiello, MS, AGNP-C — By Scott Frothingham — Updated on May 10, 2023

When you breathe, allergens, viruses, dust, and other debris stick to your nasal mucus, which then passes out of your system. Sometimes, your body can make too much throat mucus, requiring frequent clearing.

Mucus protects your respiratory system with lubrication and filtration. It’s produced by mucous membranes that run from your nose to your lungs.

Keep reading to learn what causes excess mucus production in your throat and what you can do about it.

There are a number of health conditions that can trigger excess mucus production, such as:

  • acid reflux
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • infections, such as the common cold
  • lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Excess mucus production can also result from certain lifestyle and environmental factors, such as:

  • a dry indoor environment
  • low consumption of water and other fluids
  • high consumption of fluids that can lead to fluid loss, such as coffee, tea, and alcohol
  • certain medications, such as certain birth control medications and ACE Inhibitors, for example lisinopril
  • smoking

If the overproduction of mucus becomes a regular and uncomfortable occurrence, consider consulting with your healthcare professional for a full diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications

Your doctor may recommend medication such as:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines: Expectorants, such as guaifenesin (Mucinex, Robitussin), can thin and loosen mucus so it will clear out of your throat and chest.
  • Prescription medications: Mucolytics, such as hypertonic saline (Nebusal) and dornase alfa (Pulmozyme), are mucus thinners that you inhale through a nebulizer. If your excess mucus is triggered by a bacterial infection, your doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics.

Self-care steps

Your doctor may also suggest some self-care steps you can take to help reduce mucus, such as:

  • Gargle with warm salt water: This home remedy can help clear mucus from the back of your throat and may help kill germs.
  • Humidify the air: Moisture in the air can help keep your mucus thin.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking enough liquids, especially water, can help loosen congestion and help your mucus flow. Warm liquids can be effective but avoid caffeinated beverages.
  • Elevate your head: Lying flat can make it feel like the mucus is collecting in the back of your throat.
  • Avoid decongestants: Although decongestants dry secretions, they may make it more difficult to reduce mucus.
  • Avoid irritants, fragrances, chemicals, and pollution: These can irritate mucous membranes, signaling the body to produce more mucus.
  • If you smoke, try to stop. Quitting smoking is helpful, especially with chronic lung diseases such as asthma or COPD.
  • Try certain foods: Garlic, radishes, and high fiber fruit like apples may help reduce mucus. However, avoid high fat or dairy foods, as that can worsen phlegm.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Excess mucus has been present for more than 4 weeks.
  • Your mucus is getting thicker.
  • Your mucus is increasing in volume or changing color.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You’re experiencing shortness of breath.
  • You’re coughing up blood.
  • You’re wheezing.

Was this helpful?

What’s the difference between mucus and phlegm?

Mucus is produced by the lower airways in response to inflammation. When it’s excess mucus that’s coughed up — it’s referred to as phlegm.

What’s the difference between mucus and mucous?

The answer is not medical: Mucus is a noun, and mucous is an adjective. For example, mucous membranes secrete mucus.

Should I be worried about phlegm in my throat?

Having phlegm or mucus doesn’t necessarily mean you have something serious. However, you could have something that needs to be medically treated, so it’s a good idea to see your doctor.

Is it normal to have phlegm every day?

Regular mucus production is normal. It’s the way your body gets rid of irritants in your throat and nasal passages. However, if you’re coughing it out and it doesn’t seem to resolve, it may be a sign of an infection or other condition.

Your body is always producing mucus. Overproduction of mucus in your throat is often the result of a minor illness that should be allowed to run its course.

Sometimes, however, excess mucus can be a sign of a more serious condition. See your healthcare provider if the:

  • overproduction of mucus is persistent and recurring
  • amount of mucus you’re producing increases dramatically
  • excess mucus is accompanied by other concerning symptoms

Read this article in Spanish.

Last medically reviewed on May 10, 2023

How we reviewed this article:

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Allinson JP, et al. (2016). The presence of chronic mucus hypersecretion across adult life in relation to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease development.
  • Byer S. (2015). Congestion relief.
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. (n.d.). Mucus thinners.
  • Gupta R, et al. (2023). Mucolytic medications.
  • Li X, et al. (2020). Recent advances in the development of novel drug candidates for regulating the secretion of pulmonary mucus.

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

May 10, 2023

Written By

Scott Frothingham

Edited By

Alina Sharon

Medically Reviewed By

Lauren Castiello, MS, AGNP-C

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Jan 7, 2020

Written By

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Medically reviewed by Lauren Castiello, MS, AGNP-C — By Scott Frothingham — Updated on May 10, 2023

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How to get rid of phlegm and overcome a choking cough

How to get rid of persistent phlegm and shortness of breath: effective methods of treatment and prevention. Advice from doctors and traditional medicine to ease breathing and improve the general condition of the body.

Choking cough with phlegm can be very unpleasant and disturb patients for a long time. In such a case, it is necessary to take measures to get rid of these symptoms. In addition, it can make the patient’s breathing easier and reduce the risk of complications.

The first step in treating a cough with phlegm is to determine the cause of the condition. It can be caused by infection, allergies, or other lung problems. Finding out what type of cough is present can be helped by a doctor who recommends the appropriate treatment.

In addition, patients can reduce their symptoms by doing a few simple things. It is important to increase the amount of water and other fluids you drink to thin and reduce the amount of sputum. It is also worth avoiding smoking and other irritating substances, as well as providing clean air to breathe.

What causes phlegm and cough?

Phlegm and cough are symptoms of many respiratory diseases. They usually occur in response to various stimuli that cause inflammation of the bronchi and lungs.

The main causes of sputum and cough are respiratory tract infections such as colds, influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis and others. In addition, phlegm and coughing may be caused by an allergic reaction to dust, pollen, mold, or other allergens.

One of the main factors influencing the development of sputum and cough is smoking. Nicotine causes inflammation of the lungs and bronchi, leading to phlegm and coughing. In addition, cigarette smoke contains toxins that damage the respiratory system and cause various lung diseases.

Thus, sputum and cough are the body’s response to various stimuli. To eliminate these symptoms, it is necessary to identify the cause and treat the underlying disease or stop exposure to the irritant.

Sputum and cough symptoms

Sputum is the secretion of fluid from the respiratory tract, which can be clear, white, yellow, green or brown. It can have a different consistency, from viscous to liquid. Sputum symptoms are:

  • cough accompanied by sputum production;
  • stuffy nose and throat;
  • chest pain;
  • weakness and fatigue.

Cough is a reflex protective reaction of the body to an irritant, which can be either internal (bacteria, viruses, sputum) or external (dust, smoke, allergens). Cough symptoms are:

  • frequent cough;
  • difficult breathing;
  • stuffy nose and throat;
  • chest pain;
  • weakness and fatigue.

It is important to correctly identify the symptoms of sputum and cough, as their causes may vary and require appropriate treatment.

How to diagnose sputum and cough

Sputum and cough can be symptoms of various diseases and conditions in the body. To diagnose sputum and cough, you must consult a doctor and undergo the necessary studies.

  • Physical examination – The doctor examines the respiratory organs, listens to the lungs to determine the presence of sounds that indicate the presence of sputum.
  • Sputum test – Your doctor may order a sputum test to determine the cause of your cough and sputum, and the type of bacteria or virus, if any. Sputum analysis is carried out in the laboratory.
  • Chest x-ray – A chest x-ray may be ordered to look for infections and other conditions that can cause sputum and cough.
  • CT/MRI – in some cases, when the X-ray does not give a complete answer, CT or MRI may be ordered to examine the condition of the lungs and bronchi in more detail.

Correct diagnosis of cough and sputum is very important, as it will help to prescribe the correct treatment and avoid complications.

Treatment of sputum and cough

1. Conventional treatments

Sputum and cough are common symptoms that resolve within a few days. However, depending on the cause, additional procedures may be needed. Some common treatments include:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, including water and tea, to help clear your lungs.
  • Get enough nutrition to support your body and help it fight infection.
  • Avoid smoking and dust, which can cause further irritation and worsen the condition.

2. Medical treatment

If symptoms do not improve or are more serious, medical treatment may be required. This may include:

  • Taking medications such as antibiotics or bronchodilators to help fight infection and widen the airways.
  • Use of inhalers or nebulizers to improve breathing and improve healing.
  • Performing physical therapy and lung exercises to help clear phlegm and improve breathing.
  • In some cases, hospitalization may be required to monitor the condition and receive additional treatment.

3. Alternative medicine

Some people also use alternative medicine to treat phlegm and cough. However, not all of them have sufficient evidence of effectiveness and may entail side effects. Some of these remedies include:

  • Tea with honey and lemon, which helps to soothe the throat and reduce the cough reflex.
  • Essential oils such as eucalyptus or tea tree oil, which help reduce inflammation and improve breathing.

Sputum and cough summary table

Drink plenty of fluids Helps improve lung clearance Not sufficient treatment for more serious causes of sputum and cough
Taking medications May help fight infection and improve airways May have side effects and require a prescription
Use of alternative medicines Some of them can help reduce inflammation and improve breathing Not all methods have sufficient evidence of effectiveness and may have side effects

Medications for phlegm and cough

900 02

Cough accompanied by phlegm – this is a very unpleasant sensation. Luckily, there are many medications available to help ease this situation. Mucolytic drugs will help to cope with phlegm and reduce the amount of coughing. They thin the mucus and help you expectorate it. The main active ingredient of mucolytic drugs is acetylcysteine ​​and bromhexine.

Expectorants may be used to clear sputum from the body. They promote coughing. Means recommended by experts contain medicinal plants –

eucalyptus, thyme, coltsfoot, etc.

Antitussive drugs are usually prescribed for a cough that bothers no more than two weeks. At the same time, it should be remembered that they do not remove the cause of the cough, but only stop its manifestation. Antitussive drugs are of central and peripheral action, differ in their composition and mode of action on the body, so their choice and prescription should be carried out only by a doctor.

It should not be forgotten that regardless of the medicine chosen, it is necessary to complete the full course of treatment and strictly adhere to the doctor’s recommendations, this guarantees a quick and effective result.

Home remedies for phlegm and cough

Phlegm and cough are common symptoms of colds. To get rid of them, you can use not only drugs, but also home methods.

A hot drink is one of the most effective ways to get rid of phlegm and cough. It is advisable to choose drinks with honey and lemon. They help moisten the throat and make it easier to expel phlegm. It is important to drink drinks frequently and keep the liquid hot at all times.

A foot bath is another good way to deal with phlegm and cough. Pour hot water into the tub and add a few drops of spruce or peppermint essential oil. Stay in this bath for about 15 minutes and then dry your feet thoroughly. This procedure will help improve blood circulation, reduce fever and soothe cough.

Sea salt solution is a good way to reduce phlegm. Dilute 1 tsp. sea ​​salt in a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth thoroughly. This method will not only help get rid of phlegm, but also improve the health of teeth and gums.

In conclusion, home remedies can reduce the amount of medication you take and help you get rid of phlegm and cough faster. If the symptoms do not go away for a long time, it is better to seek help from a doctor.

Ways to prevent phlegm and cough

1. Proper nutrition

Eating healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals can help strengthen the immune system and prevent phlegm and cough. It is recommended to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, as well as seafood and dairy products containing vitamin D.

2. Good hygiene

Washing your hands frequently and using disinfectants at work can help prevent the spread of infections that can lead to phlegm and coughing. You should also wear a mask when in contact with sick people.

3. Regular exercise

Regular exercise can improve circulation and strengthen the lungs, which will help prevent phlegm and coughing. Outdoor exercise such as walking, running or yoga is recommended.

4. Smoking

Smoking is one of the main causes of phlegm and cough. If you are a smoker, it is recommended that you stop smoking or at least reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke.

5. Seek medical attention

If sputum and cough persist longer than usual or are accompanied by other symptoms, a doctor should be consulted. Your doctor may prescribe treatment or additional tests to find the cause of your phlegm and cough.

What to do if sputum and cough do not go away for a week

1. Review treatment. If your symptoms persist for a long time, it may be necessary to reconsider your treatment. You may need stronger medical support and medication.

2. Avoid dry air. Dry air can increase coughing and make it difficult to expel sputum. Try a humidifier and regularly humidify the room.

3. Drink more water. Drink plenty of fluids to thin the sputum and speed up its excretion. Also, drinking more fluids can help soothe your throat and reduce coughing.

4. Avoid smoking. Smoking can increase coughing and make it difficult to clear sputum. If you smoke, try quitting the habit to avoid more serious complications.

5. Visit a doctor. If cough and sputum persist for more than a week, do not hesitate to contact your doctor. This may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, and may require additional treatment.

  • Review your treatment.
  • Avoid dry air.
  • Drink more water.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Visit a doctor.

Precautions in the treatment of sputum and cough

Some precautions must be observed in the treatment of sputum and cough.

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Wash them regularly and wipe down with an antiseptic to prevent infection or transmission of infection.
  • Do not share personal items with others to avoid spreading an infectious process that can cause sputum and cough.
  • Refrain from smoking and exposure to smoke. Smoke can irritate the respiratory tract and contribute to coughing and phlegm.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to moisten the mucous membranes and expedite the elimination of mucus secretions.

If the symptoms do not go away after a few days, you should consult a doctor to determine the cause and get the right treatment.

Drinks recommended in the treatment of sputum and cough:

Warm water with lemon and honey Moisturizes the throat and reduces cough
Linden tea Moisturizes mucous membranes and soothes irritation
Ingver and honey Contains anti-inflammatory properties and reduce severe cough

Health hazard of sputum and cough

Sputum and cough are signs of diseases of the respiratory system, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, asthma, etc. They can be symptoms of both acute and chronic diseases.

Cough itself does not pose a great threat to health, but it is a protective reaction of the body and may indicate a serious illness. If the cough lasts for a long time, it can lead to a weakened immune system and an increased risk of other diseases. At the same time, sputum can contribute to the development of infectious diseases and prevent the restoration of health.

In addition, coughing and phlegm can lead to sleep disturbance, increased fatigue and irritability, and in some diseases can cause choking.

Therefore, it is important not to ignore coughs and sputum and to see a doctor in time to find out the cause of their appearance and start treatment. It must be remembered that the lack of treatment can lead to the transmission of infection to other people and the development of complications.

Sputum and cough in children: causes and treatment

Sputum and cough are often symptoms of colds or respiratory infections in children. However, they can also be indicative of more serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or asthma. The cause of sputum and cough in children may be irritation of the respiratory tract, increased secretion or narrowness of the bronchi.

Treatment of sputum and cough in children depends on the cause and may involve the use of various drugs. Syrups can be used to relieve coughing, which thin the mucus and improve its discharge from the lungs. To reduce inflammation in the airways, hot steam inhalations or the use of inhalers can be used.

In some cases, sputum and cough can be caused by allergies. Antihistamines should be used to treat allergic coughs and reduce exposure to allergens in the respiratory tract. In addition, it is very important to keep the house clean and not to allow the child to come into contact with those substances that cause allergic reactions in him.

  • Advice for parents:
  • Make sure your child has access to enough clean water;
  • Ventilate the room frequently and keep the room at an optimal temperature;
  • Keep child away from people who smoke or who are sick;
  • Monitor the temperature in the child’s room and avoid hypothermia.

If a child’s cough is accompanied by fever, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Only a qualified doctor can determine the cause of sputum and cough, as well as recommend the necessary treatment.

Proper nutrition to get rid of phlegm and cough

Nutrition plays an important role in the fight against phlegm and cough. At the same time, foods rich in vitamins and minerals should be present in the diet, as well as drinking enough water. In this case, the goal is to strengthen the immune system and remove excess mucus from the body.

Vegetables and fruits are one of the best foods to fight phlegm and cough. Leafy vegetables like spinach and kale contain folic acid and vitamin C, which boost the immune system and slow down mucus production. Antioxidants found in berries such as blueberries and raspberries help fight infections.

Protein food can help reduce sputum volume. Protein is also essential for tissue healing and repair, as the body uses proteins to produce antibodies and proteins that fight infections. Protein foods can be obtained from fish, meat, beans, nuts and seeds.

Drinking is important for cough control. Water helps to moisturize the mucous membranes and thin the phlegm. While coffee and tea can quench your thirst, they are also diuretics, which can lead to dehydration. Therefore, the drinking regimen should be focused on drinking water or soft drinks.

Seafood is rich in healthy fats that can help reduce inflammation and improve breathing. Salmon and sardines contain Omega-3, which is sometimes not enough for human health, so purchasing it from fish is great.

Product recommendation table:

Product category
Vegetables Spinach, cabbage, broccoli, carrot, pumpkin, squash 901 36
Fruits Apples, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, pears, oranges
Protein foods Fish, meat, beans, nuts, seeds
Drinks 901 36

Water, soft drinks
Seafood Sardines, shrimp, salmon

Breathing exercises for phlegm and cough

If you suffer from cough with phlegm, breathing exercises can help you get rid of this unpleasant symptom. They help to improve pulmonary ventilation and speed up the process of removing sputum from the lungs. Here are some effective exercises:

  • Deep breathing. Sit on a chair and relax. Inhale deeply and evenly through your nose for 3-4 seconds, hold your breath for 2-3 seconds and exhale through your mouth for 5-6 seconds. Repeat the exercise 5-6 times. This will help clear mucus from your lungs.
  • Plastering. Get on your knees and get down on your hands. As you inhale, tap your chest hard with your palms on the side of the lung where sputum accumulates. Relax as you exhale. Repeat 10-12 times. This exercise will help clear your airways of mucus.
  • Supercharged breathing. Sit on a chair and relax. Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale all the air through the mouth, directing the air flow towards the phlegm. As you exhale, inflate your cheeks as if you are inflating a balloon. Repeat 5-6 times. This exercise will help clear phlegm from your lungs.

Do not forget about the correct drinking regimen. Drink plenty of fluids to keep your airways moist and help clear mucus. And remember, if a cough with phlegm does not go away within a week, you should consult a doctor.

General recommendations for the treatment of sputum and cough

Treatment of sputum and cough depends on the cause and severity of the symptoms. However, there are some general recommendations that will help improve the condition:

  • Drink plenty of fluids . Break away from carbonated water and juices, give preference to water or tea. The fluid will help you moisten the mucous membranes in your airways and make the mucus less thick.
  • Use moist air . Use a humidifier or simply place a container of water next to a standing radiator to humidify indoor air. This will help reduce irritation of the respiratory tract and relieve coughing.
  • Hot inhalations periodically . The hot steam will help relieve nasal congestion, make it easier to expel phlegm, and reduce airway inflammation.
  • Take your medications and follow the procedures described by your doctor . If you have been prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed by your doctor. If you are prescribed procedures, such as inhalations with physiotherapy methods, do them regularly and do not skip sessions.
  • Before going to bed it is better to raise the pillow . Use extra pillows to elevate your head and upper body. This position can protect your lungs and give you more comfort during your cough.

When to see a doctor

Even if you think that your problem is not very serious, in some cases you need to see a doctor. Here are some signs that you need to get medical help:

  • Cough lasts more than two weeks
  • Sputum is bloody or bright red
  • Feel chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Fever and weakness
  • Health problems such as diabetes, asthma, or heart failure
  • Symptoms get worse or do not improve after several days of treatment

This is not a complete list of reasons why need to see a doctor. If you are in doubt, it is best to get medical help for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Preliminary examination and communication with a medical professional

Contact a healthcare professional before starting cough and sputum treatment. A common cough may be indicative of various illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia or asthma. Therefore, a specialist should conduct an examination and determine the cause of cough and sputum.

Also, if your cough is accompanied by weakness, headache, difficulty breathing, or other serious symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. This may be a sign of a serious illness requiring prompt treatment.

When visiting a doctor, it is advisable to be prepared to answer a number of questions, such as: when did the cough start, how often do you cough, what is the nature of the sputum, are there any accompanying symptoms, etc. This will help the doctor determine the presence of a particular disease and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Important to remember: if your doctor has prescribed a treatment, follow his recommendations and do not stop treatment when you feel better. Full recovery and getting rid of cough and sputum can take several weeks, and only after completing the full course of treatment, you can be sure of its effectiveness.

Related videos:


What are the causes of phlegm and shortness of breath?

Phlegm and shortness of breath can be caused by many things, from allergies to respiratory and heart problems. It is best to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

What can be done about sputum and shortness of breath?

It’s worth drinking more water, adopting a healthier diet, and making sure your indoor air is clean. You can also try using cough suppressants and expectorants.

What are the most effective treatments for sputum and dyspnea?

The most effective treatments depend on the cause. For example, bronchitis or pneumonia may require the use of antibiotics, while asthma may require inhalers with glucocorticosteroids. It is important to consult with your doctor for an individual approach.

Which foods should be avoided for sputum and cough?

For phlegm and cough, avoid foods that can aggravate symptoms, such as dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and fast food.

Can homemade recipes help with phlegm and cough?

Homemade recipes such as ginger tea or honey and lemon can help relieve symptoms, but they should not replace professional treatment and advice from a doctor.

What exercises can help relieve shortness of breath?

Deep breathing exercises, chest stretching and yoga can help relieve breathlessness in some cases. However, it is important to understand that they should not replace medical treatment.

How long does sputum and cough usually last?

The duration of sputum and cough can vary greatly depending on the cause. Some people may recover in a few days, while others may have symptoms for weeks or even months. If the symptoms persist, you should consult a doctor.

Viscous sputum – causes of the disease, which doctor treats, diagnosis, prevention and treatment


Viscous sputum is a condition in which secretions in the airways become thick and difficult to separate. Usually, sputum serves to protect the respiratory tract by trapping and expelling harmful substances, germs and other particles. However, when mucus becomes viscous, it can become difficult to pass naturally, causing discomfort and problems with expectoration.

Viscous sputum can be a symptom of various conditions and diseases such as respiratory infections, chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, and others. It can be caused by inflammation, excessive mucus production, changes in the characteristics of sputum, or obstruction of sputum discharge from the respiratory tract.

If you have viscous sputum, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath or changes in breathing, it is recommended that you see a doctor to assess your condition and make an accurate diagnosis. Only a doctor can determine the cause of sticky sputum and prescribe the appropriate treatment to relieve symptoms and improve your condition.

Why viscous sputum is dangerous

Viscous sputum can be dangerous due to several factors:

  1. Risk of infection: Viscous sputum may create favorable conditions for the development and growth of bacteria, viruses or fungi. This can increase the risk of developing infectious diseases of the respiratory system, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Failure to effectively clear sputum from the airways can contribute to stagnation and the multiplication of pathogens.

  2. Pulmonary edema: Viscous sputum may interfere with normal gas exchange in the lungs and impair lung function. This can lead to a disruption in the supply of sufficient oxygen to the body and the removal of carbon dioxide, which can cause oxygen starvation and deterioration in general condition.

  3. Airway obstruction: Viscous sputum can lead to airway obstruction, especially in people with a predisposition to obstructive respiratory disease such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The obstruction can cause shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and exacerbate existing respiratory problems.

  4. Impaired quality of life: Viscous sputum may cause discomfort, cause a feeling of blockage in the chest, and lead to frequent coughing. This can significantly impair quality of life and interfere with daily tasks and activities.

Physiological causes of viscous sputum

Physiological causes of viscous sputum may include:

  1. Lack of water: Lack of water intake can lead to dehydration. This can make the sputum more viscous and difficult to separate. Not drinking enough or not being hydrated can be one of the causes of sticky sputum.

  2. Air pollution: Inhalation of polluted air, such as industrial emissions, tobacco smoke, or indoor pollution, can irritate the respiratory tract and increase sputum production. As a result, sputum may become more viscous.

  3. Increased mucus secretion: Certain physiological conditions, such as colds, flu, allergies, or inflammatory conditions, can lead to increased mucus production in the airways. If the secretion of mucus increases and becomes thicker, it can lead to the formation of viscous sputum.

  4. Dry air: Low indoor or outdoor humidity can dry out the airways and make sputum more viscous. This can be especially noticeable in winter when heating systems create a dry atmosphere.

Pathological causes of viscous sputum

Pathological causes of viscous sputum may be associated with various diseases and conditions, including:

  1. Bronchial asthma: Bronchial asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation of the bronchi and narrowing of their lumen. As a result, the secreted sputum may become more viscous and difficult to separate.

  2. Chronic bronchitis: Chronic bronchitis is characterized by prolonged inflammation of the bronchi and the production of large amounts of mucus. This can lead to the formation of viscous sputum.

  3. Cystic Fibrosis: Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder in which the mucus-producing glands malfunction. As a result, sputum secretion becomes more viscous, which leads to its accumulation in the lungs.

  4. Bronchiectasis: Bronchiectasis is the constant expansion and destruction of the bronchi, resulting in the formation of pockets in which sputum is retained. Viscous sputum may be one of the symptoms of bronchiectasis.

  5. Pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infectious inflammation of the lungs that can cause the production of viscous sputum. This may be due to infection as well as the body’s inflammatory response to infection.

  6. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): COPD is a chronic progressive lung disease characterized by airflow limitation and inflammation of the airways. Viscous sputum can be one of the symptoms of COPD.

Accompanying symptoms

Accompanying symptoms of viscous sputum may vary depending on the cause and comorbidities. Some of the common symptoms that may accompany sticky sputum include:

  1. Cough: Often tenacious sputum is accompanied by cough. The cough may be dry or with sputum.

  2. Dyspnea: Patients with viscous sputum may feel short of breath or have difficulty breathing, especially during physical activity.

  3. Fatigue and weakness: Viscous sputum and associated respiratory problems can cause fatigue and weakness.

  4. Chest pain: Some patients with viscous sputum may experience chest discomfort or pain.

  5. Colored sputum: In case of infection or hemoptysis, sputum may be colored (yellow, green, rusty or bloody).

  6. Increased sputum production: Patients may notice an increase in the amount of sputum they cough up.

  7. Changes in smell and taste: Some people may experience a change in smell and taste due to the presence of viscous sputum.

What are the scenarios

The course of events in the case of viscous sputum may depend on the cause and underlying disease. Some possible scenarios include:

  1. Exacerbation: In the case of a chronic disease, such as chronic bronchitis or bronchial asthma, exacerbations are possible, when viscous sputum becomes more difficult to separate. This may be accompanied by increased coughing, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

  2. Bronchial obstruction: Viscous sputum can lead to partial or complete blockage of the bronchi, which can cause breathing problems and deterioration in general condition.

  3. Development of infection: Viscous sputum may contribute to the development of a bacterial or viral infection of the respiratory tract. This can lead to exacerbation of symptoms, fever, worsening of the general condition and the need for additional treatment, such as antibiotics.

  4. Pneumonia: If viscous sputum remains retained in the lungs, it may contribute to the development of pneumonia, an infectious inflammation of the lung tissue.

  5. Complications in sputum removal: Attempting to actively remove viscous sputum may cause complications such as coughing up vomiting, breath holding, or bronchospasm.

  6. Bronchial hypersensitivity: Viscous sputum can lead to bronchial hypersensitivity, which can increase the response to irritants such as allergens or chemicals and cause coughing fits or airway obstruction.

What diseases cause viscous sputum

Viscous sputum may be associated with various diseases of the respiratory system. Some of them include:

  1. Chronic bronchitis: Chronic bronchitis is characterized by chronic inflammation of the bronchi, which can lead to increased production of viscous sputum.

  2. Bronchial asthma: Bronchial asthma causes inflammation and spasm of the bronchi, which can lead to the formation of viscous sputum.

  3. Bronchiectasis: This is a chronic disease in which there is an expansion and deformation of the bronchi, as well as an increase in sputum production.

  4. Diseases of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat: Vasomotor rhinitis, chronic pharyngitis, chronic tonsillitis and other diseases of the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract can cause an increase in the production of viscous sputum.

  5. Pneumonia: Pneumonia, an infectious inflammation of the lungs, may be accompanied by the formation of viscous sputum.

  6. Bronchial cancer: In some cases of bronchial cancer, there may be an increase in the production of viscous sputum.

  7. Cystic fibrosis: Genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis can cause thick and sticky sputum.

Contact the right specialist right now

Kulikova Olga Alekseevna

Experience 10 years




What tests to do

If you have viscous sputum, it is important to have tests prescribed by your doctor to determine the cause and assess the state of the respiratory system. Some of the possible surveys include:

  1. Clinical examination and history taking: Your doctor will talk with you about your symptoms, the duration and nature of your sputum, and any other related symptoms. They may also ask questions about medical and family history.

  2. Physical examination: The doctor will do a physical examination, including listening to the lungs with a stethoscope and assessing other symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing.

  3. Chest x-ray: A chest x-ray may be used to detect structural changes, infection, or other pathological conditions of the lungs.

  4. Spirometry: Spirometry is a functional test that measures the volume and speed of respiratory movements. It can help determine the presence of an airway obstruction.

  5. Bacteriological sputum examination: Laboratory examination of sputum may be performed to determine the presence of infection and identify possible pathogens.

  6. Bronchoscopy: Bronchoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor inserts a flexible tube with a camera into the airways to visually inspect and take tissue or sputum samples for analysis.

  7. CT (computed tomography) of the chest: CT can be used to examine the condition of the lungs in more detail and detect changes in their structure.

What can be relieved

Removal of viscous sputum can be aimed at relieving symptoms and facilitating the release of sputum from the respiratory tract. Some methods that can help clear up sticky sputum include:

  1. Drink enough water: Keeping the body hydrated by drinking enough water helps loosen mucus and make it easier to excrete.

  2. Use of wet inhalation: Inhalation of steam or moist air can help moisten the airways and loosen mucus, making it easier to pass.

  3. Use of saline solutions: Use of saline solutions to rinse the nose or rinse the nasopharynx can help moisten mucous membranes and loosen phlegm.

  4. Use of mucolytic drugs: Mucolytic drugs may be prescribed by a doctor to thin sputum and make it easier to clear from the respiratory tract.

  5. Use of mechanical means: The use of various mechanical means, such as regular coughing, hitting the back (special exercises or techniques aimed at clearing sputum), can help to clear viscid sputum.

Which doctor to contact

If you have viscous sputum, it is recommended to consult a pulmonologist or an otorhinolaryngologist. These specialists specialize in diseases of the respiratory system and can conduct the necessary examination, diagnosis and prescribe appropriate treatment. They can evaluate your lungs and airways, determine the cause of sticky sputum, and develop a treatment plan based on the problems found. If necessary, they may also refer you to other specialists for a more detailed assessment and consultation, depending on the specific situation.