Learn about effective ways to get rid of phlegm.
What is phlegm?
Phlegm is another name for mucus and is produced by the respiratory system. This mucus lines the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs and protects the body from infection.
Some of the functions of phlegm include the following:
- Keeps tissues moist and healthy
- Traps harmful pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria
- Picks up the inflammatory cells produced by the body
When viruses and bacteria attack the body, mucus production increases, thickening the mucus and causing discomfort. The body tries to expel this mucus by coughing.
How to get rid of phlegm
Use a humidifier
A humidifier can help soothe your nasal passages and reduce the production of mucus and phlegm. Choose a cool-mist humidifier and clean it regularly.
Use a nasal saline spray
Saline sprays help rinse tissues of the nose and the sinuses. Use a sterilized spray that contains sodium chloride.
Gargle with salt water
Saltwater (1 teaspoon of salt in a warm glass of water) can soothe irritation in the throat and help eliminate mucus.
Try inhaling eucalyptus
Put eucalyptus balm or essential oil in a diffuser; the aroma may help release mucus from the chest.
Take over-the-counter medications
Try coughing techniques
Techniques to expel mucus are usually done with an inhaled bronchodilator medication. The medication helps loosen phlegm and open the airways, making the methods more efficient. The most common methods used to get rid of mucus include those that can be requested or demonstrated by your physician.
- Deep coughing:
- Huff coughing:
- Other methods:
- Acapella or Aerobika are small devices that help you exhale.
- Postural drainage is a procedure that uses gravity to help remove mucus from the lungs.
- Exercise can help remove mucus from the lungs.
When to contact your doctor
Typically, phlegm is not something to worry about. However, contact your doctor if you observe the following symptoms along with coughing up phlegm:
If you are concerned about allergies, you can ask your doctor to order allergy testing. If you have other concerns, speak to your primary care physician or an otolaryngologist, who can examine your health and medical history to determine the best course of treatment.
Mucus in Your Chest: Why It Can Happen. https://www.webmd.com/lung/mucus-in-chest-overview#1
Phlegm and Mucus: How to Get Rid of It. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/mucus-and-phlegm-what-to-do-if-you-have-too-much/
Mucus, Our Body’s Silent Defender. https://healthtalk.unchealthcare.org/mucus-our-bodys-silent-defender/
How to Cough Up Mucus & Phlegm from Chest Congestion. https://www.nationaljewish.org/conditions/copd-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease/overview/lifestyle-management/how-to-cough-up-mucus-phlegm
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