Throat Mucus & Phlegm

Causes of constant phlegm and suggestions to relieve excessive mucus in throat

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  1. What is Throat Mucus?
  2. What Causes Throat Mucus & Phlegm?
  3. Help for Throat Mucus & Phlegm

What is Throat Mucus?

Throat mucus, also known as phlegm, is a natural component of a healthy respiratory system. It can be described as the sticky, viscous substance that often accumulates at the back of your throat and may cause an uncomfortable feeling when it clogs your throat or drips from the back of your nose. The glands of your throat and nose produce about 1 to 2 liters of mucus per day.

This mucus consists of cells that line the sinus passages, and it performs several important functions. It moistens and cleanses the nasal passages, traps foreign particles so they won’t filter into the respiratory system, fights infection and humidifies the air as you breathe it in. Most of the time, we are not even aware that we swallow mucus. It is only when there is an excess buildup of phlegm that we notice its presence. Native Remedies creates exceptional products such as Mucus-Clear™ and Mucus-Clear™ Nighttime that can provide temporary relief from the symptoms created by throat mucus. 

Symptoms of Throat Mucus & Phlegm Build-Up

Signs and symptoms you may notice when your body overproduces throat mucus and phlegm can include:

  • Coughing of Mucus and Phlegm
  • Throat Congestion
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Frequent Throat Clearing
  • Vocal Strain or Hoarseness

What Causes Throat Mucus & Phlegm Build-Up?

Post Nasal Drip: Post nasal drip — so-named for the dripping sensation at the back of the throat — occurs when an excessive amount of mucus accumulates in the nose and throat, causing coughing and congestion. This symptom may be temporary when it is associated with a viral or bacterial infection, but it may also be chronic for individuals dealing with allergies or other sinus conditions.

Cold or Flu: During a cold or bout of flu, the respiratory system amps up its production of clear, thin mucus in the nose and back of the throat. When the body starts to react to the virus, mucus begins to thicken and turn yellow or green as it tries to protect your body. This is one of the most noticeable symptoms of a cold or flu virus.

Seasonal Allergies: More and more people seem to suffer from seasonal allergies every year. Unlike the common cold, the symptoms of seasonal allergies — such as sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and, of course, that pesky throat mucus — will occur all at once, rather than in the slower progression of a virus. There are many different types of allergens that cause these symptoms, depending on the season, and they can manifest anytime from late winter through summer. Tree and flower pollen are some of the major culprits of seasonal allergies, and the symptoms will last until the allergens have dissipated. Environmental allergens, such as dust and mold, often cause symptoms that are similar to seasonal allergies but with the added aggravation of lingering as a chronic, year-round condition.

Foods: Unfortunately, some foods can cause excess throat mucus, and if you are already dealing with phlegm, the last thing you want to do is add to the problem. Milk and dairy products like yogurt, cottage cheese and butter cause excess mucus to accumulate in the throat. These types of food contain protein molecules called casein that increase the secretion of mucus. Being a bit careful about what you eat can help reduce excess phlegm and throat congestion, especially if you have other contributing conditions like allergies. Along with milk products, other foods like caffeine, sugar, salt, non-herbal teas — especially black tea — can all create excess mucus. Soy is one of the most mucus-producing plant foods there is. Those who give up meat and dairy and switch to soy products have a greater risk of creating an unhealthy mucus build-up in the body.

Pregnancy: Many women experience symptoms of nasal congestion, coughing and sneezing during pregnancy. Although irritating, these symptoms are very common and rank right up there with backaches and morning sickness. Estrogen is known to exacerbate mucus production and cause the mucus to get very thick or thin, both of which can cause coughing and congestion.

Other Causes: Throat disorders such as tonsillitis, strep throat, catarrh, and laryngitis often include symptoms of excess mucus in the throat. Viral infections such as chicken pox, measles, mononucleosis, whooping cough or croup may also cause throat mucus. If the throat is irritated by cigarette smoke, polluted air or chemical fumes, mucus can also settle on the lining of the throat and nasal passages. Throat mucus also causes bad breath because it contains a high amount of protein and produces anaerobic bacteria.

Throat Mucus in Children

Children who have caught a respiratory infection will often experience an excess of mucus in the throat that can last four to six weeks — even after all their other symptoms have cleared. Though troubling, this is very common. A phlegm-producing cough sounds "wet" in a child’s chest and throat. Although an upper respiratory infection is the most common cause for throat mucus in children, seasonal allergies can cause a build-up of phlegm, as well. Children are susceptible to seasonal allergies anytime from late December through the end of the summer months, just like adults.

Help for Throat Mucus

When the mucus in the back of the throat becomes thick, it is natural to feel a need to clear the throat by coughing. Clearing your throat will help the phlegm loosen or break up in the back of the throat, which may temporarily alleviate the uncomfortable feeling. However, excessive coughing can give rise to other problems, like sore muscles or broken blood vessels in the eye area. Mucus problems can be a nuisance, but there are some simple ways to manage them. Make sure that you drink plenty of liquids that will not increase phlegm production, such as water, juice or tea with honey. Gargling daily with warm salt water can help thin out mucus, just be careful to spit it out rather than swallowing, as the salinity can cause an upset stomach. Because the nasal passages are so closely linked to the throat, treating symptoms of nasal congestion or sinus pain can help alleviate excess mucus buildup. Sinus Soothe™ from Native Remedies is a fast-acting tincture that can soothe the pressure and congestion associated with sinus headaches while also offering some relief from excess phlegm in the process. For more severe throat infections, a doctor’s visit is recommended.

Tips to prevent and soothe throat mucus and phlegm

•  Inhale steam from a tub of boiling water or hot shower to loosen mucus in the throat and alleviate sinus congestion

•  Stay hydrated. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily to loosen phlegm and thin mucus — and because it is good for your overall health

•  Blow your nose frequently to prevent mucus from draining into your throat

•  Gargle regularly with warm water and salt

•  Avoid eating foods such as dairy products, meat or fried foods that can increase mucus production

•  Drink non-caffeinated hot liquids to moisten the airways and break up the mucus

•  Eat spicy foods, horseradish or hot chili peppers to loosen mucus

•  Limit exposure to irritants such as household cleaners, paint fumes, chemicals or cigarette smoke. Stop smoking, as it irritates the throat and worsens respiratory conditions

•  Natural remedies such as Mucus-Clear™ products and Sinus Soothe™ may also provide temporary relief from symptoms of throat congestion and excessive mucus. These natural products are an important part of an overall strategy for dealing with the excess mucus and phlegm that can accompany a variety of conditions, including environmental factors that may be unavoidable.

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

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