Phlegm is the thick and viscous fluid produced by the mucous membranes, especially of the bronchi and the trachea. It is also known as mucus and sputum. It mainly consists of water, glycoproteins, and lipids. The color of phlegm can be clear, yellow, or green. The presence of blood can give it a brown or rusty tinge. Sometimes, blood in mucus can also be evident as red streaks.
The production of a small amount of mucus by the mucous membranes that line the bronchial passage of the lungs is quite normal, and is essential for protecting the lungs from foreign particles. It helps trap dust and other foreign substances, and prevents them from entering the lungs. When these particles enter the lungs, they are expelled by coughing up phlegm. However, phlegm can be quite bothersome if produced in excess, which can be associated with some underlying health conditions.
Coughing Up Too Much Phlegm
The presence of excessive mucus in the back of the throat and chest can be a sign of several conditions. Excess phlegm in the throat can be caused by an infection or inflammation, and allergies. Sometimes, smoking can also cause this condition over a period of time. Postnasal drip is another condition, where mucus can accumulate in the back of the nose and then drip down the throat. It can be caused by a number of factors, including allergies, sinusitis, rhinitis, and the common cold. It can also be caused by viral and bacterial infections.
Generally, acute bronchitis, influenza, and bacterial pneumonia can cause an excessive production of mucus. Even the inhalation of irritants can cause this condition. Asthma is a respiratory condition characterized by the inflammation of the airways. It can cause the expulsion of clear or pink-colored phlegm. On the other hand, people suffering from tuberculosis can cough up green or yellow-colored sputum, along with blood. Excessive mucus can also be produced in certain types of lung cancer. Apart from these, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), allergies, sinusitis, and candidiasis can be responsible for causing phlegm in lungs.
The treatment of this condition depends on the underlying diseases or conditions. Symptoms like cough, congestion, and breathing difficulty, that usually accompany excess phlegm, resolve when the underlying condition is treated properly. These bothersome symptoms are usually managed with the help of decongestants, cough suppressants, expectorants, and antihistamines.
If the symptoms are quite severe, and if the presence of excess mucus is causing breathing difficulty, then physicians may prescribe corticosteroids. If this condition is caused by allergies to substances like dust and pollen, then one has to avoid the specific allergen to manage this condition.
In the meantime, certain simple home remedies like steam inhalation and gargling saline water can provide significant relief. Steam inhalation can thin mucus, and facilitate its expulsion. However, individuals with asthma should not use this remedy, as it can aggravate the condition. Gargling salt water several times a day can also facilitate the expulsion of phlegm. You can also take hot tea or soup to get relief from this condition. Certain spices like pepper, ginger, and chili can help thin mucus. Another simple remedy is water or fluid. One should drink plenty of water throughout the day to get rid of this condition.
If excess phlegm is causing severe cough, congestion, and breathing problem, then consider to visit your physician, as this could be an indicator of some serious medical conditions. The presence of excess mucus can also obstruct the bronchi, and thus, reduce the amount of oxygen in blood. To prevent such complications, this condition should be properly evaluated with the help of a physician.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.