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How to Get Rid of Phlegm in the Throat

Discover practical solutions for phlegm relief with expert advice to help you breathe easier and feel better.

Phlegm is a gluey substance that often lingers in the back of our throats and can be bothersome. Whether it's a result of a common cold, allergies, or other respiratory infections, dealing with phlegm requires understanding its nature and adopting effective strategies to clear it out. 

Understanding Phlegm

Phlegm is a thick, mucus-like substance produced by the mucous membranes in the respiratory system. It plays a crucial role in trapping and eliminating foreign particles from the airways, such as dust and bacteria. However, when an excessive amount of phlegm is produced, it can lead to discomfort, coughing, and a sensation of something stuck in the throat.

"Phlegm serves as a vital defense mechanism for our respiratory system. While it helps protect us from harmful particles, an imbalance can result in symptoms that impact our daily lives. Understanding the nature of phlegm is the first step toward effective management." - Dr. Robert Biernbaum, Chief Medical Officer, WellNow Urgent Care

COVID-19 and Phlegm

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of respiratory symptoms, including phlegm. Individuals infected with the virus may experience coughing and the production of thick, yellow or green phlegm. If you suspect you have COVID-19, following public health guidelines, getting tested, and seeking medical advice is important.

Helping Your Child with Phlegm

Children, especially young ones, may find dealing with phlegm distressing. To ease their discomfort, ensure they stay hydrated with plenty of fluids. Consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, making it easier for them to breathe. Over-the-counter saline nasal drops can also help in loosening mucus.

Tips on thinning phlegm from throat

If you're dealing with bothersome phlegm in your throat, several home remedies can help alleviate the discomfort. Here are some tips for getting rid of phlegm at home:

  • Stay Hydrated:

     Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated. This helps in thinning mucus and making it easier to expel.

  • Steam Inhalation:

     Inhaling steam can help loosen mucus and soothe your throat. You can use a bowl of hot water or a humidifier for this purpose.

  • Gargle with Saltwater:

     Saltwater gargle can provide relief by reducing throat irritation and breaking down mucus. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle several times a day.

  • Use a Humidifier:

     Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier can prevent the throat from drying out and ease congestion. It is important to clean your humidifier regularly (follow the instructions provided with the device). It prevents harmful bacteria and mold buildup, ensuring the device consistently delivers clean and soothing air.

  • Warm Fluids:

     Enjoy warm beverages like herbal teas, broths, and soups. They can provide comfort and help break down mucus.

  • Honey and Lemon:

     Mix honey and lemon in warm water or tea. Honey has antibacterial properties, while lemon provides vitamin C and can cut through mucus.

  • Elevate Your Head:

     Keep your head elevated while sleeping to prevent mucus from pooling in your throat. 

  • Nasal Irrigation:

     Use a saline nasal spray to rinse your nasal passages. This helps remove excess mucus and reduces congestion.

  • Stay Active:

     Light exercise can promote circulation and help in clearing mucus. However, avoid strenuous activities if you're feeling unwell.

  • Pineapple Juice:

     Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that may help break down mucus. Drink fresh pineapple juice or eat fresh pineapple.

  • Hot Showers:

     Taking a hot shower can provide relief by creating a steamy environment that loosens mucus.


When to See a Medical Provider

While most cases of phlegm can be managed at home, certain situations warrant medical attention. If you experience persistent or worsening symptoms, have difficulty breathing, notice blood in the phlegm, or if your child is exhibiting signs of respiratory distress, it's important to consult a healthcare professional promptly. WellNow Urgent Care's medical providers can assess the symptoms and run any necessary diagnostic testing to determine the root cause and effective treatment.

Can My Doctor Prescribe Medication for Phlegm

Your medical provider may recommend medications to address specific causes of excessive phlegm. Antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial infections, while antihistamines and decongestants can help with allergies or sinus congestion. Expectorants, such as guaifenesin, can be used to thin and loosen mucus, making it easier to expel.

What does the color of phlegm mean?

The color of phlegm can provide valuable insights into the underlying cause of respiratory issues. Clear or white phlegm is often associated with allergies or viral infections. Yellow or greenish phlegm may indicate a bacterial infection, while brown or rusty-colored phlegm could suggest smoking or exposure to environmental pollutants. Keeping an eye on phlegm color can aid in determining the most suitable course of action for relief.

Getting rid of phlegm in the throat involves a multifaceted approach, ranging from lifestyle adjustments to seeking medical advice when necessary. By understanding the nature of phlegm, identifying its potential causes, and adopting appropriate strategies, individuals can navigate the discomfort associated with excess phlegm and promote respiratory well-being. Start a WellNow Virtual Urgent Care Visit or walk into any WellNow urgent care location for medical advice based on your situation.

More resources:
Marvels of Mucus and Phlegm

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Information contained in this blog is for informational or educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals. The content is not meant to be complete or exhaustive or to apply to any specific individual's medical condition. Always refer to the personalized information given to you by your doctor or contact us directly.