Coughing with Phlegm – What Can You Do About It?

Coughing with Phlegm – What Can You Do About It?

In modern day life, it is considerably easier to have health conditions that people in the past rarely experienced. In addition, what are now minor complications were cited as life-threatening back then.

Fortunately, medical advancements have made the prevalence of such health conditions treatable.

There are several common diseases that you can catch only by spending time outdoors. Secondly, nearly everyone catches a cold, gets seasonal allergies or just gets plain sick every other month. It is now fairly normal.

Similarly, coughing is one of the most seen health conditions. A sore throat in common illness is often accompanied by coughing and flu especially in winters. Hence, simple antibiotic medication also takes care of coughing.

Coughing can also occur when your body is trying to get rid of toxins that tried to enter through your respiratory tract.

That is what happens when you breathe in the highly polluted air of metropolis cities such as London, New York, and Paris. It is a normal bodily condition that can be taken care of and cured within a day for most of the people.

However, sometimes the coughing remains for a longer period of time. You might have noticed that sometimes when you recover from illness, coughing stays for a longer period of time than flu and sneezing.

Although it eventually does go away with proper medication for a majority of people, some people face coughing continued even if the rest of the complications go away. In other cases, people can also have severe coughing without getting sick at all and find it hard to recover.

Why does a cough remain persistent for some people?

The answer is mucus. If you or some you know is having perpetual coughing, there are high chances it is because of mucus build up in the chest.

The mucus is basically a harmless lubricant produced by the human body, but at times of nasal and chest congestion can irritate the body. A continuous cough and mucus in a normal person are usually not anything close to life-threatening.

However, it can definitely distract you from work or school and reduce your capability or performance greatly. For example, coughing can ruin your business presentation or generally give off a bad impression.

Does mucus cause cough?

Normally, mucus is an important lubricant needed by the body to protect its basic functions to keep foreign invaders away. In the chest area, mucus is produced to serve the important function of lining the walls of the respiratory system.

In fact, mucus has the consistency similar to common gelatin. The stickiness of mucus is what safeguards the respiratory system by filtering the air you breathe in. Mucus catches the debris, dirt and foreign particles to prevent their absorption into the body.

The mucus contains immunoglobulins and antiseptic enzymes which are responsible for protecting the respiratory system from bronchial blockage, bronchial congestion and lung-irritation inducing particles that may enter the system.

The mucus is also categorized into two types. Mucus in the nasal congestion is referred to as plain mucus but the one produced in the chest which can later contribute to coughing is known as phlegm. In addition to being in different places, there are other distinctions between both.

Phlegm safeguards the body and respiratory system but in only produced in the lower airways. In comparison with nasal mucus, it is slightly thicker in consistency and less slippery to a considerable extent.


RELATED: How To Get Rid Of Dry Cough?


Whenever you are having a cold both of these are produced in the body. You are actually sneezing out mucus and coughing phlegm out of your mouth. Another difference between the two is that phlegm often contains dead bacteria, viruses, and white blood cells.

Whenever the body is attacked, the phlegm is produced in higher amounts to help the white blood cells get rid of the invaders be it viruses or bacteria. In this fight, the dead bacteria or virus and the white blood cells that were fighting them then get mixed with the phlegm.

Whenever you are having a lot coughing and phlegm coming out with it, it is usually a sign of the body to indicate that it is getting rid of them an excessive amount of phlegm and dead microbes to avoid possible congestion.

Although it can be quite irritating for most people, it shows a healthy body keeping possible harmful materials out of the body. This excessive phlegm and mucus are often caused by infections such as pneumonia, influenza, and bronchitis as well as a common illness if not treated for long.

Since getting rid of phlegm through coughing is the human body’s mechanism of fighting off the congestion and infection, it is recommended that you should always spit out the phlegm instead of swallowing it for quicker results.

What are the things to watch out for?

Mucus and phlegm can vary in accordance with the cause of the overproduction. It is important for the person having a continuous cough with these to notice the consistency, texture, and color of the phlegm coming out.

Notice that if you seek professional help, your doctor or physician will surely ask you the color and amount of phlegm you cough out for sure. It can be of good use to determine the underlying reason behind its excessive production.

The common greenish-yellow phlegm is typically associated with chest infections and blockages. The chest mucus you cough out after catching a cold is of this type and can be relieved easily. Brown or gray colored mucus is your body getting rid of toxins.
Phlegm, for some people, may come out with blood during coughing. This type of chest mucus is clearly the sign of a serious health problem such as TB, bronchitis or pneumonia. A large amount of blood in the phlegm is an issue that requires immediate medical attention.

There are some common symptoms of all types of mucus. The amount and intensity of phlegm, in accordance with studies, is higher in the morning for most of the causes. The signs of mucus and phlegm in the body include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain in the chest

How can you get rid of chest mucus?

Fortunately, it is fairly easy to clear out the chest and nasal mucus collectively in simple ways at home using the following ways:

Drink Liquids

You might have heard about how water helps in getting rid of infections by flushing out the bacteria in different infections in the body. It works the same way to get rid of excess phlegm and mucus from the chest.

Try drinking more water or having warmed drinks which are particularly of great use when trying to relive a nasal and chest congestion.


Sleeping with a humidifier next to your bed at night can considerably help with chest phlegm and show results the very next morning. This is because the steam helps loosen up the accumulated phlegm and mucus.
As a result, your body can get rid of it far more quickly. You can use it either during the day or at night. The latter would be more helpful since you can stay in one room with windows clothes and sleep better.

Avoiding medication

You might hear a lot of suggestions to take over the counter cough suppressants and congestion relievers. In reality, these medicines can cause the body to produce more phlegm in the body and cause prolonged infection.


Smoking is obviously bad for the health. It also contributes to continuous irritation of the airways and causes infections more often. Quit smoking for at least the time you are having coughing and phlegm problems as it will help the body recover without additional irritation.

Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate with specialization in diet planning and weight loss. She enjoys reading and writing on Food, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss, and General Health.

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