The mucous membranes of humans and animals secrete a sticky fluid called phlegm, which helps in lining the walls of the respiratory system. There are immunoglobulins and antiseptic enzymes, which give the needed protection from infections and congestion. The immunoglobulins and antiseptic enzymes in the mucus fight the infection and is then expelled out of the body by coughing. Phlegm in the chest is a clinical syndrome that is developed in response to a long-continued action of different types of irritants on the bronchial mucosa.
- It is more widely caused due to tobacco smoke. It is seen that people who smoke suffer from this problem constantly. At the same time, passive smokers are also at risk of catching the condition.
- Along with tobacco smoke irritants, the other irritants are dust, smoke and fumes from industrial units.
- Allergies caused by pet dander can also cause this condition.
- Common cold is the other common cause of phlegm.
- The other illnesses that can cause this condition are pneumonia, asthma, clot in the blood vessels, etc. Most of these can cause coughing phlegm for approximately three weeks.
- Bacterial or viral infections in the chest, like bronchitis, whooping-cough, etc. are the other common cause of thick phlegm.
- Chest infection is another cause.
- Most cold and cough remedies dry out the cough, which also leads to dried mucus in the chest.
- Constant formation of cough can be due to a serious condition like tuberculosis or lung collapse.
You can boil water in a vessel and inhale the steam. Alternatively, sitting in a bathroom full of steam works fine as well. If you cough, while you are taking the steam, you will notice that it's easier to cough up phlegm. Keep a watch on the phlegm color. If it is clear and white or pale in color, the infection is viral in nature, but yellow, brown, bloody or green phlegm along with chills, fever, etc. means you may want to visit your health care professional.
While you are trying to get rid of phlegm, it is important, that you keep yourself well hydrated, because, if you are dehydrated, the phlegm will also dry up and will give you trouble in coughing it out. At the same time, it advisable to avoid alcoholic and caffeine drinks, as they dehydrate the system. An expectorant can be used to treat the condition.
A humidifier can be of immense use, especially when you are using a heating system during the cold months, as heating systems dry out the air. As often the people suffering from this problem breathe through their mouths when they sleep, the dry air causes the lungs to dry out. Hence, using of humidifier is suggested at night.
If you are a smoker, you will have to drastically cut down on your smoking habits. At the same time, it is essential that you avoid dry, dusty and smoke-laden places. Avoid getting wet in the rain and avoid going out in the cold winds, as it can worsen the condition. Avoid sour food items, including yogurt, as they will aggravate your problem. On the similar lines, dairy products, white flour, refined sugar, etc. should also be avoided, when one is suffering from phlegm. The foods, which must be a part of the diet are oranges, pineapple, lemon, grapefruits, garlic, onions, asparagus, celery, etc.
There are some remedies that help in reducing excessive phlegm in the chest. The 'not-so-difficult' home remedies for chest congestion are listed below:
- Make a decoction using basil leaves, ginger and black pepper powder. Take one teaspoon of each of them and bring it to boil in one and half cup of water. Boil the water till it is reduced to half its original measure. Add honey to the decoction. Divide the entire decoction in three parts and have it thrice a day.
- For the next remedy, you will have to extract ginger juice. Take one teaspoon of ginger juice and add one teaspoon of honey to it. Have this thrice a day.
- Mix two tablespoons of lemon juice, one tablespoon of honey and add a pinch of cayenne pepper to it. If you do not have cayenne pepper, you can also make use of grated onion instead. Have this mixture, at least thrice a day.
- Drinking a hot cup of well brewed tea also helps in fighting mucus in the chest. You can make thyme tea or ginger tea. Both of them are of immense help.
This condition should not be neglected. Always keep a watch on the color of the phlegm. If the condition refuses to subside, although you have tried the home remedies, it is advisable to seek an appointment with your health care professional, at the earliest.