Excessive mucus and phlegm is probably not something to talk about (unless you’re under 14 and trying to spit as much as you can). But if you have too much slime, it can make you go crazy looking for a solution.
First, consider that molluscs serve a purpose. “This fluid is produced naturally by your body every day,” says laryngologist Paul S. Bryson, MD.
“Your body doesn’t produce an exact amount, but most experts estimate it’s about a liter a day,” he says. (That’s half a 2 liter bottle of soda!)
Dr. Bryson explains some ways to get rid of excess mucus and phlegm.
What is sputum and sputum?
Mucus plays an important role in your body. It is produced by the cells of the mouth, throat, nose and sinuses. Its slippery texture protects the skin, moisturizes it and traps potential irritants.
Phlegm is made up of mucus, but it is produced when the respiratory organs fight inflammation.
What causes excessive mucus?
In the following cases, your body may be filled with mucus.
Irritation of sinusitis (sinusitis).
Exposure to smoke and pollution.
“Environmental allergies can cause excess mucus and phlegm just like food allergies, but are more difficult to diagnose based on these symptoms alone,” explains Dr. Bryson.
If you’re healthy, your mucus tends to be thin and you don’t notice it. But if you are sick, the mucus will be thick and crusty.
Also, sputum may not come out until you cough, which can be a sign of pneumonia or bronchitis.
You may also be concerned about yellow or green colored mucus or phlegm. But the color doesn’t mean it’s infected.
How to remove excess mucus and phlegm
If you have chronic phlegm, try the following. These medications can help the mucus and sputum problem to go to the post nasal drip.
Drink more water. Also think about your regular medications and dehydrating drinks like coffee, alcohol and tea.
“A good rule of thumb is to drink enough water to keep your urine white,” advises Dr. Bryson.
Use a moisturizer
It keeps your body, throat, and nasal passages moist and helps reduce mucus and phlegm.
Choose a cool mist humidifier and follow the instructions to clean it regularly.
Check the filters in the heating and cooling system.
Make sure filters are clean and in good working order to keep dust and other irritants out of the air.
Use a saline nasal spray
It helps wash and moisturize the tissues of the nose and sinuses. Use sterile sodium chloride spray.
Rinse with salt water
Drinking salt water (1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) helps to expel mucus and relieve throat irritation.
Whether it’s eucalyptus balm or essential oil in a diffuser, the scent of eucalyptus can help loosen mucus in your chest.
Use over-the-counter medications
Nasal decongestants (oral or nasal spray) can help relieve nasal congestion. There are also expectorants that thin mucus, such as guaifenesin (such as Mucinex®).
“If you’re concerned about allergies, remember that the tests are simple and straightforward,” says Dr. Bryson. “You can also use over-the-counter allergy medications to help manage your problem.”
If in doubt, talk to your primary care physician or otolaryngologist, who can review your unique symptoms and history to find a solution.
Is excess phlegm a sign of a serious illness?
If your discharge is causing you discomfort, you may be concerned that it is a symptom of a more serious problem.
According to Dr. Bryson, if mucus is your only symptom, it’s not a cause for concern.
“Warning signs are fever, chills, night sweats, especially weight loss, nasal congestion, and occasional nosebleeds that last for more than two weeks,” he said.