Information about chest congestion symptoms such as mucus in your lungs.

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  1. What is Chest Mucus?
  2. What Causes Chest Mucus?
  3. Symptoms of Chest Mucus
  4. Chest Mucus in Children
  5. Help for Chest Mucus
  6. Tips for Clearing Chest Mucus

What is Chest Mucus?

Chest mucus phlegm — serves the important function of lining the walls of the respiratory system for protection. Chest mucus contains antiseptic enzymes and immunoglobulins, both of which help with protection and providing relief against infections, bronchial blockage, bronchial congestion and lung irritants. While chest mucus is inherently beneficial, that doesn’t mean it can’t become detrimental when its production is on overload.

What Causes Chest Mucus?

When we become ill or the respiratory system becomes irritated, phlegm is produced in larger amounts so that its immunoglobulins can work harder to fight off invading or foreign bodies. This excess phlegm, along with the dead immune cells and virus or bacteria the cells were fighting, is then expelled through coughing. While coughing up phlegm is not pleasant, it serves a purpose and is a sign that your body is fighting off infection or trying to clear lung congestion. Excessive phlegm — sometimes called chest mucus — is often caused by viral or bacterial infections such as influenza, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Other Conditions Causing Mucus

In addition to viral and bacterial infections, chronic conditions like allergies and acid reflux can cause a buildup of mucus in the lungs. Certain foods, like dairy products and refined sugars, can also contribute to excessive mucus production. Vigorous exercise can exacerbate a cough because of the strain it puts on the lungs, but exercise will generally make a cough more productive. Exercising in very cold air or around pollutants will result in more mucus production and coughing. Some very serious health conditions also include symptoms of excess chest congestion, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis1.

Symptoms of Chest Mucus

The color, consistency and amount of chest mucus produced can be a useful diagnostic tool to help your physician determine the cause of your chest mucus. Yellow or greenish chest mucus is generally a symptom of infection. Chest mucus that contains blood is often a symptom of a more serious infection such as pneumonia or tuberculosis (TB), and a large amount of blood in the chest mucus is generally considered a sign of a medical emergency. Chest mucus that is brown or gray in color is a sign that your body is trying to expel harmful toxins, such as those found in cigarette smoke or environmental pollutants.

Symptoms of chest mucus are often worse in the morning and vary depending on the cause, but may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing blood

Chest Mucus in Children

The signs and symptoms of increased mucus production are generally the same for children as they are for adults. Coughing and mucus production are a normal part of the common cold. However, if your child has difficulty breathing, her lips or face turn blue with a coughing spell, she wheezes or has a very high fever, those are indications to call a doctor or otherwise seek medical attention2.

Help for Chest Mucus

Having a persistent wet cough or chest congestion can be bothersome, and it helps to know remedies are available to help reduce excessive chest mucous or phlegm. The natural product Mucus-Clear™ by Native Remedies® may provide temporary relief of the symptoms excess phlegm tends to bring.

You also want to keep an eye out for excess chest mucus if you are taking antibiotics. When infections are treated with antibiotics, the natural balance of the body becomes compromised. Normal flora is disrupted, often resulting in damage to the mucus membranes, which can lead to candida overgrowth. Candida is a type of yeast naturally found in your body. While it can be helpful during normal circumstances, the organism can become harmful when it results in the infection known as candida overgrowth.

To reduce excessive chest mucus, be sure to consider diet. Avoiding milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products can help slow mucus production. Avoiding other foods known to increase chest mucus production can be helpful, as well. These include foods that are high in salt, sugars and refined sugars, such as white flour and bread.

Tips for Clearing Chest Mucus

Smoking can cause serious lung problems and aggravate respiratory infections. It also irritates the mucus membranes and causes the lungs to produce excessive chest mucus.

Treat nasal and sinus infections as soon as they occur, as they tend to produce excess phlegm and can often lead to chest infections or bronchial blockage.

Do not take pharmaceutical cough suppressants, as these cause phlegm to build up in the lungs and can lead to prolonged infection.
Drink plenty of water to loosen the phlegm and help wash down any phlegm that gets deposited in the throat.

Products such as Mucus-Clear™ and Mucus-Clear™ Nighttime may also provide temporary relief from symptoms of throat congestion and excessive mucus.
The content provided is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a health condition, please consult a medical professional and do not use this information to self-diagnose or self-treat.
Reviewed by Master Herbalist, Mary Ellen Kosanke

1. Leonard, Jayne. “What Causes mucus in the Chest?” Medical News Today. 19 April 2018. Accessed 01 January 2019.
2. “Treating a Child’s Congestion or Stuffy Nose.” WebMD. Accessed 01 January 2019.

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