Mucus - Causes, Signs, And Treatments: Remedies To Get Rid Of Mucus And Phlegm
Are you experiencing some kind of blockage in your throat or nasal passages that make it hard to breathe? Are you suffering from ongoing coughing bouts and going through boxes of tissues blowing your nose? Well, you can wait it out or you could use some home remedies to get rid of phlegm and mucus in chest and throat.
What Is Mucus?
Mucus — also known as sputum — is a sticky, gelatinous material that lines your lungs, throat, mouth, nose, and sinuses. It's produced by membranes in the nose and sinuses known as the mucous membranes.
Mucus is a part of our body’s frontline defense against infection.
It’s produced by the mucous membranes which line your mouth, nose, throat, sinuses, and lungs, and it works with your cilia, the tiny hairs which line your airways. Mucus traps particles, such as:
Truth About Phlegm
Phlegm is a water-based gel and is produced at your lower airways. It contains mucus with bacteria, sloughed off inflammatory cells and debris. The immune system, climate, and genetics can vary the composition of the phlegm.
The color may vary from transparent to pale dark yellow or green. It can also change from light to dark brown or dark grey.
Your body always produces mucus, but you may notice it most when it changes as a result of a respiratory infection (such as the flu), the common cold, a sinus infection, or allergies.
You may also produce more mucus if you smoke.
Mucus production is normal and serves many purposes, even when you're healthy.
It protects the tissue that lines your lungs, throat, and nasal and sinus passages, keeping it from drying out.
It also works to trap unwanted bacteria and allergens (such as dust or pollen), preventing them from spreading through your body and making you sick.
Mucus even contains antibodies, or enzymes, designed to kill or neutralize these harmful materials.
Symptoms of Throat Mucus & Phlegm
Coughing of Mucus & Phlegm
Shortness of Breath
What Causes Throat Mucus & Phlegm?
Colds are caused by viruses. They are spread from person to person, and you can catch one through direct contact or by ingesting fluid, such as saliva, that contains a cold virus. While cold weather doesn’t directly cause colds, rhinovirus – the most common cause of colds – is better able to reproduce at cooler temperatures.
Postnasal drip occurs when an excessive amount of mucus accumulation in the nose and throat creates phlegm and causes coughing. Phlegm seems to build up in the throat overnight, which leads to congestion in the morning.
Allergies can stimulate your body to produce excess mucus, adding to congestion. This kind of mucus congestion is most common in spring (allergy season) but some allergies, such as dust mites, can occur year-round.
Milk and milk products like yogurt, cottage cheese, and butter, cause excess mucus in the throat. These items carry protein molecules called casein that increases secretions of mucus and is difficult to digest. Along with milk products, caffeine, sugar, salt, non- herbal teas, (especially black tea), all create excess mucus. Soy is one of the most mucus making plant foods there is. Those who give up meats and dairy and switch to soy products have a greater risk of creating an unhealthy mucus build up in the body.
Easy Ways To Get Rid Of Mucus & Phlegm
Humidify the air
Moisturizing the air around you can help keep mucus thin. You may have heard that steam can clear phlegm and congestion. There actually isn’t much evidence to support this idea, and it may even cause burns. Instead of steam, you can use a cool mist humidifier. You can run the humidifier safely all day long. You’ll just want to make sure that you change the water each day and clean your humidifier according to the package instructions.
Drinking enough liquids, especially warm ones, can help your mucus flow. Water can loosen your congestion by helping your mucus move. Try sipping anything from juice to clear broths to chicken soup.
Other good liquid choices include decaffeinated tea and warm fruit juice or lemon water.
Warm liquids, in particular, can help clear out mucus in the chest and nose.This can relieve congestion, giving you a small respite from your symptoms.
You may wish to try sipping:
chicken noodle soup
warm apple juice
decaffeinated black or green tea
Lemon and Honey
You can drink a hot cup of lemon tea to ease the sticky phlegm. Take a cup of boiling water. Add juice of half a lemon and two teaspoons of honey. You can add a tablespoon of brandy and whisky too. Mix everything and enjoy your cup of hot lemon tea.
Use a Neti Pot
Make up your own by mixing one cup of distilled (or boiled and cooled) water, a half teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of baking soda. Use this in a neti pot to flush the mucus and trapped irritants right out of your nasal passages. Studies have actually shown that a DIY salt water rinse is more effective than an over-the-counter decongestant spray!
Use a bowl and a towel
For a more targeted steam, place a large bowl in your sink and fill it with hot water. Once it’s full, lean over the bowl. Place a hand towel over your head to help trap the steam around your face.
There aren’t any set guidelines for how long to sit in the steam, so use your best judgment. If at any point the heat becomes overwhelming or makes you uncomfortable, remove yourself from the steam. Drinking a glass of cold water can help you cool down and rehydrate.
The good old-fashioned salt water gargle produces fast and effective relief. Add half a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and gargle. Repeat this process every hour for a maximum benefit.
A natural decongestant and antihistamine, ginger also has antiviral, antibacterial and expectorant properties that help ease congestion in the chest and throat by drying out excessive mucus and stimulating removal of the buildup.
You can drink ginger tea a few times a day. Alternatively, you can chew on 3 or 4 raw ginger slices several times a day.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has antiseptic and healing properties. It helps reduce phlegm by killing the bacteria that cause excessive mucus production. You can mix a half teaspoon of turmeric in a glass of warm water and drink it thrice a day. Mix one tablespoon of turmeric and a pinch of salt in warm water and gargle. This reduces the phlegm in your throat. Add one teaspoon of turmeric to a warm cup of milk. Drink it in the morning and before going to bed. You can add half a teaspoon of turmeric to a bowl of chicken soup.
Limit exposure to irritants such as household cleaners, paint fumes, chemicals or cigarette smoke. Stop smoking as it irritates the throat and worsens respiratory conditions. Eat spicy foods, horseradish or hot chili peppers to loosen mucus.
Products such as Mucus-Clear™ may also provide temporary relief from symptoms of throat congestion and excessive mucus.