Phlegm is a type of mucus in the lungs that becomes noticeable when you are ill. Our body produces mucus on a daily basis in many ways and forms. It is a protective layer that keeps microbes and other harmful particles away from your soft and sensitive tissues.
When you are suffering from a cold or some form of inflammation, phlegm appears. It Is a mix of clear mucus with harmful particles and pathogens like bacteria, viruses, contaminated cells, etc. Because of this, the body will try to create more healthy mucus and get rid of the phlegm. You will then notice the mucus in the respiratory system when you breathe, and most of the times you will have to cough it out.
Although phlegm itself contains harmful particles, it will not cause you long-term troubles, though it can sometimes clog the airways. It usually comes with other uncomfortable conditions such as runny nose, sore throat, sinusitis, etc. So, if you yourself keep coughing phlegm, what you can do is read this to find out how to make it stop.
Types of Mucus
Productive cough means that you dispose of stuff like mucus and phlegm when you cough. You may notice that your phlegm has different colors when you cough it out. There are three usual types of mucus:
- Clear mucus means that you are probably allergic or have some light infection in your respiratory system.
- Yellow or green mucus means you have a respiratory infection. The yellowish-green color means that the phlegm contains white blood cells that are battling the infection.
- Brown or dark red mucus means that there is blood in the liquid. This is also common with infections which can irritate the nose.
Symptoms and Causes
There is a wide range of possibilities for having an extensive amount of mucus in your respiratory system, such as:
- Infections, cold, flu, common illness
- Irritation of respiratory system (nose, throat, lungs)
- Certain digestive problems
- Lung diseases
The most usual symptoms that go with phlegm are:
- Runny nose
- Congested nose
- Sore throat
- Sinus area headache
- Productive cough
Best Ways to Treat Phlegm
The phlegm should go away over time once your immune system fights off the cold (or other respiratory infections). But there are various home remedies that may ease the symptom of phlegm.
Drinking Warm Fluids
You may benefit from drinking a warm liquid. It can provide relief from congestion because the mucus gets thinner from the liquid. It makes the phlegm easier to come out and eases your cough and sore throat. You should drink herbal teas, broths or warm water to ease the symptoms.
Steam and Humidifiers
Like warm water, the moist air thins the mucus and helps with coughing, congestion and sore throat. Humidifiers can help people who have trouble sleeping at night because of these symptoms.
You can inhale steam by filling a pot or bowl with hot water. Lean over it and place a towel over your head and the pot to keep the steam in. Inhale slowly and you should feel the symptoms getting better. Also, taking long and warm showers may have similar effects.
Putting A Warm Wet Washcloth on Your Face
If your sinus hurts, this method may help. This symptom may follow coughing phlegm. Place a wet cloth over your face and gently inhale for a couple of minutes. This may soothe your headache and cough.
Don’t Refrain from Coughing
The phlegm from the cough may be unpleasant but try to avoid medicaments that ease the cough. If you have phlegm, it is good to cough it out so you can keep it out of your respiratory system.
Don’t Swallow the Phlegm
If possible, try to spit out the phlegm after coughing it out. Many people swallow it back but that only partially reduces the mucus and a part of it returns to your throat or lungs. Although it is not unusual to swallow phlegm, it is more effective to remove it entirely.
Gargle Salt Water
Mix a teaspoon of salt with warm water and gargle the mixture. This can soothe an irritated throat and remove some of the phlegm from the throat. You can repeat this method a couple of times every day.
Avoid Smoking and Smoking Rooms
This might be obvious, but if you have trouble with your respiratory tract you can only make it worse by smoking. Sometimes it can be hard for a heavy smoker to avoid cigarettes, but minimizing them should be your priority. The smoke can cause the body to generate more mucus and phlegm.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Caffeine leads to dehydration, and alcohol causes both dehydration and irritation. This thickens phlegm and makes it more difficult to expel. You should substitute with non-caffeinated teas.
Look for OTC Medication
Get some over-the-counter meds from your local drugstore. There are many effective products that should soothe the inflammations and ease the symptoms. Consult your pharmacist about the symptoms and the right medicine.
Honey is a natural antibacterial remedy. If you consume two to three tablespoons of honey every day you may ease the symptoms of the flu or common cold. This may stop the extensive production of mucus and thus reduce the phlegm.
Eat Healthy Food
Foods that contain antioxidants and vitamin C can improve your health while dealing with phlegm. Food like garlic, lemon and ginger should give some relief.
Is Phlegm a Sign of Worry?
Usually, coughing up phlegm is not something you should worry about. Whenever you are suffering from the common cold or flu, it may appear. It is a sign of your immune system battling harmful particles by producing more mucus than usual.
Sometimes, phlegm that doesn’t disappear over time may be a sign for concern. If none of the home remedies or medications improve the condition, it is usually a sign that the illness is more serious.
So, if you keep coughing phlegm, what you can do is help your immune system. Tip the battle toward your immune system with home remedies and OTC medication.
Over time, symptoms like cough and extensive mucus should go away. It may be an uncomfortable condition, but with a little patience and treatment, it should quickly disappear!