How to get rid of phlegm in throat

What is Phlegm in the throat?

Some mucus in the airways can protect and moisturize the tissues. Phlegm is a type of mucus found in the back of the throat when a person is sick. It is produced by the lungs and respiratory tract. Mucus is a good thing provided this is produced in limited quantity.

Mucus moist the following membranes to protect the respiratory system-

  • Mouth
  • Nose
  • Throat
  • Sinuses 
  • Lungs 

In healthy conditions, the mucus is thin. The stickiness of the throat traps dust, allergens and viruses eventually stopping them from entering the respiratory tract. On the other hand, when a person is sick, the mucus gets thick and causes discomfort. 

Why there is phlegm in the throat?

Sometimes long-term conditions such as cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or asthma can result in excessive production of phlegm that can lead to congestion. This is also likely to occur due to, sinusitis, cold or allergies or inhaling smoke or pollutants. 

How to get rid of phlegm stuck in the throat?

10 Remedies to get rid of phlegm and mucus in the throat naturally

It is quite possible to get rid of phlegm and mucus from the throat completely with some effective natural remedies. Here are some remedies that can cure phlegm naturally-

  1. Gargling with salt waterGargling with salt water

    Gargling can also help in getting rid of phlegm in a jiffy. This soothes out an irritated throat and can help in getting rid of residual mucus. Mix one teaspoon of salt in warm water and gargle at regular intervals.

  2. Using a humidifierUsing a humidifier

    Humidifiers are small appliances that moisten the air and prevent drying from the nose and throat. Dry air tends to irritate the nasal airways and throat thereby, resulting in the production of thicker mucus. Hence, if you use a humidifier it can moisturize the nose and throat eventually, reducing the mucus production.

  3. Taking a hot shower and inhaling the steamTaking a hot shower and inhaling the steam

    The steam from a hot shower can loosen and thin out the phlegm in the throat. Make sure that the temperature of the water is correct. It should be hot but not piping hot. Get in a hot shower then relax in the shower and take deep breaths. Not only shower but facial steams can also provide the same effect. Try this once or twice a day in order to get relief. For added benefits, you can use some essential oils to the water to break up the mucus.

  4. Humming to break up the phlegmHumming to break up the phlegm 

    In rare instances, leaving the phlegm untreated for long can result in solidifying the phlegm in the throat. Humming involves vibrating the throat that can effectively break up the phlegm. This is more effective if the throat isn’t sore. Therefore, hum your favorite song for 1-2 minutes. Followed by this, take a few sips of water that should help clear your throat.

  5. Home remedies to get rid of phlegm with medicine

    Vapor rubs- The active components of vapor rub- camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol. Vapor rubs don’t cure the problem but help in getting relief from the discomfort. Rub it on the throat and chest to let the vapor reach the nose and mouth.

    Decongestants- This type of medication works by narrowing down the blood vessels that open up the airways. Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are the two most common types of decongestants. As the air passes through the nasal passages, the mucus dries up.

    Nasal spray or rinse- A nasal spray helps to clear out the mucus and allergens from the nose and sinuses. You should choose sterile sprays that only contain sodium chloride.

    Expectorants- This type of medicine works by getting mucus out of your system. One such example is Guaifenesin. The effect is similar to inhaling steam.

  6. Keep your head elevatedKeep your head elevated

    Don’t let mucus collect in the throat by keeping the head elevated. This helps to drain the phlegm and mucus from the sinuses naturally down the back of the throat. When someone is sleeping, they can put some extra pillows or sleep in a chair to prevent the buildup of phlegm in the throat.

  7. Avoid foods that can cause acid refluxAvoid foods that can cause acid reflux

    Eating foods that can cause acid reflux, heartburn, and burning in the throat, can worsen phlegm in the throat. Hence, avoid food items that can cause acid reflux symptoms. The phlegm is most likely to collect more if you take the following food items-Garlic, onions, spicy foods, caffeine, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, alcohol, mint, tomato products, chocolate, and fried, greasy foods.

  8. Stay away from the smokeStay away from the smoke

    Dryness of the vocal cords can trigger more production of phlegm and mucus to moisten the throat. Hence, it is best to quit smoking as this habit can cause dryness in the throat. Therefore, phlegm can get worse. In addition to this, if you are a non-smoker request others to not smoke around you or step away if someone is smoking.

  9. Don’t take dairy productsDon’t take dairy products

    This might sound astonishing but this is a fact that taking dairy products when suffering from phlegm in the throat can make it thicker. The reason being dairy makes the body produce more mucus. For the time being, you can shift to no-fat or low-fat options as they are less likely to thicken the mucus.

  10. Avoid exposure from irritants such as allergens, fumes and hazardous chemicalsAvoid exposure from irritants such as allergens, fumes and hazardous chemicals

    Irritants such as paint fumes, cleaners, and other chemicals can irritate the airways and trigger the body to produce more mucus. This can harm the respiratory system. If you tend to have such allergies, limit your exposure to such irritants or chemicals. You can also wear a face mask or stay in a well-ventilated area. 

In addition to following the above remedies, ENT doctors also recommend consuming foods that promote healthy respiratory functioning. Some of these food items include-

  • Spicy foods that contain capsaicin such as cayenne or chili peppers can help in draining the mucus
  • Licorice root
  • Berries
  • Echinacea
  • Ginseng
  • Pomegranate
  • Guava tea
  • Zinc-rich foods 

However, even with proper rest and home remedies, phlegm in the throat can still persist. If the problem persists or severe or does not improve, it can indicate a more serious ailment. In case you experience any one of the following,  consult a doctor under such circumstances for proper diagnosis-

  • Excessive amounts of phlegm build-up in the throat
  • Experience any other symptoms
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Is it okay to swallow phlegm?

Phlegm in the throat is not toxic in nature nor does it cause any harmful problems. The digestive system breaks it down once it is swallowed. Hence, swallowing it accidentally doesn't lead to any complications. 

What causes phlegm in throat?

Some of the common contributing factors that can lead to accumulation phlegm in the throat include-infections, allergies or acid reflux.

How long does phlegm last?

The duration of how long the phlegm is going to be stuck in the throat depends on the cause. For instance, phlegm build-up due to acute bronchitis can last for two-three weeks. 

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