The buildup of mucus in the chest can cause unpleasant symptoms like difficulty breathing deeply, wheezing, sleep difficulties, and a sore throat. This congestion is also often accompanied by a cough that brings up phlegm.
We need to remember that Mucus/Phlegm has an important role in the body. It lines many of your tissues and acts as a protective and moisturizing layer to keep your respiratory system healthy. It also acts as a trap for irritants like dust, smoke, or bacteria.
What is the difference between mucus and phlegm?
Phlegm is the term that is used to refer to mucus produced by the respiratory system, particularly when excess mucus is produced and coughed up. During an infection, the mucus contains the viruses or bacteria responsible for the infection trapped as well as antibodies and bacteria-killing to help fight the infection off.
What causes mucus production to increase?
There are several factors that can contribute to mucus overproduction and hypersecretion in the first place:
- Allergies: Environmental triggers such as pollen or pollution or dander may be irritating to the body, so the body attempts to clear the foreign substances by creating more and more mucus to cough up.
- Asthma: The swelling and inflammation of airways that go hand-in-hand with asthma also result in mucus overproduction.
- Infection: Viral infections in the lungs and airways (known as bronchitis) may result in excess mucus production as the immune system works to trap the virus and remove it from the body.
- Smoking: Smoking and cigarette smoke exposure are the biggest factors in chronic excess mucus production. Studies show that cigarette smokers with both chronic bronchitis and limited airflow have an increased number of goblet cells and inflammatory cells in their airways.
- COPD: Some patients with COPD have increased mucus production and secretion. Unfortunately, people with COPD may have difficulty clearing excess mucus because of an ineffective cough and other aspects of their condition.
- Cystic fibrosis: A genetic disease resulting in very thick, sticky mucus production, cystic fibrosis affects the lungs and other organs, such as the pancreas. The sticky sputum makes it very hard to clear the airways to breathe.
Natural ways to treat mucus or phlegm
If you have chronic problems with phlegm, try the following:
- Hydrate more. Drink more water and limit any dehydrating beverages you regularly drink.
- Use Prospan®. It liquefies the sticky mucus trapped in the bronchi, allowing it to be coughed up more easily and thus removed from the body, enabling you to breathe freely again.
- Use a humidifier. This can help your body moisturize your throat and nasal passages and may help you reduce mucus and phlegm production.
- Check filters on heating and cooling systems. Make sure the filters are clean and functioning well to keep dust and other potential irritants out of the air.
- Use Nisita nasal spray. This helps rinse and hydrate tissues in your nose and sinuses.
Keep in mind, Phlegm itself is not dangerous, but when it’s produced in large amounts, it can clog the airways which makes it harder to breathe freely. Phlegm is usually expelled by coughing, and this is typically accompanied by symptoms like nasal congestion, runny nose, and sore throat.
If the overproduction of mucus becomes a regular and uncomfortable occurrence, consider consulting with your healthcare provider for a full diagnosis and a treatment plan.
Stay Healthy. Stay Safe.