Certain treatments, such as hydrating, using a humidifier, and taking over-the-counter medications, can help remove excess mucus from the throat and chest.
What causes phlegm in the throat?
Phlegm is the thick, sticky substance that builds up in the back of your throat when you’re sick. At least most people notice. But did you know that mucus is present all the time?
The mucous membranes produce mucus to protect and support the respiratory system. These membranes line:
Mucus is sticky and can trap dust, allergens, and viruses. When healthy, mucus is thin and noticeably less. When you are sick or have a lot of particles, the mucus thickens and becomes clearer as it traps these foreign substances.
Phlegm is a healthy part of the respiratory system, but if it’s making you uncomfortable, there are ways to thin or reduce it.
Read on to learn about some natural remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and when you might want to see a doctor.
Humidify the air
Humidifying the air around you can help keep mucus thinning. You may have heard that steam removes phlegm and congestion, but this idea is not supported scientifically.
Instead of steam, you can use a cool mist humidifier. You can safely use this moisturizer throughout the day. You should change the water daily and clean the humidifier according to the directions on the package.
Keep moisture and warmth
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially warm fluids, helps soften mucus.
Water and other fluids help loosen mucus and relieve congestion. Sip on liquids such as juices, soups, and broths. Other good fluid options include decaffeinated tea, warm fruit juice, and lemon water.
Your drink shouldn’t be the only thing warm. You should be! Keeping warm is an easy home remedy to soothe the respiratory system. This is because you are better able to deal with illnesses that produce more mucus (such as a cold) with body heat.
The ways to keep warm are:
Wear warm clothes to protect from cold temperatures
Snuggle in bed with an extra blanket
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Use ingredients that promote respiratory health
Try foods and drinks that contain lemon, ginger, and garlic. A 2018 study found that it can help colds, coughs, and excess mucus, but there isn’t a lot of research to support this.
Spicy foods that contain capsaicin, such as cayenne pepper or cayenne pepper, can temporarily clear your sinuses and move mucus.
There is scientific evidence released in 2016 that the following foods and supplements can help treat and reduce the risk of certain viral respiratory diseases.
You may also be wondering about chicken soup, which is a classic dish that many people use when they are sick. Does it also help get rid of phlegm? Some studies indicate this.
Chicken soup is good for treating colds and removing excess mucus. This is because chicken soup slows down the movement of neutrophils in your body. Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, fight infection. When you move slowly, they stay in the affected area of your body for a long time.
Overall, more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of these foods, but for most people, adding these ingredients to their diet is considered safe.
If you are taking prescription medications, consult your physician before adding any new ingredients to your diet.
Rinse with salt water or use a saline solution
Gargling with warm salt water can help remove phlegm from the back of the throat. It even helps with a sore throat.
Follow these easy steps when rinsing with salt water.
Mix 1 cup of water with 1/2-3/4 teaspoon of salt. Warm water works best because it dissolves the salt quickly. It’s also a good idea to use filtered or bottled water that doesn’t contain the irritating chlorine.
Drink a little of the mixture and tilt your head back a little.
Gargle without drinking the mixture.
Exhale for 30-60 seconds to clear your throat, then spit the water out.
Repeat if necessary.
If you don’t feel like rinsing with salt water, there’s an easier and more effective alternative for thinning phlegm: saline solution. Saline is a saline solution that can be used as a nasal spray or in a neti pot. It is available without a prescription and a natural sinus reliever.
A 2018 study supports the idea that saline is absorbed by mucus after more than a week of use.