Certain treatments, such as hydration, 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 at the back of the throat when you’re sick. At least most people notice that. But did you know that mucus is there all the time?
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 mucus is healthy, it 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 makes you feel uncomfortable, there are ways to loosen or reduce it.
Read on to learn about some natural remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and when you might want to see a doctor.
1_ Humidify the air
Humidifying the air around you can help keep mucus thin. You may have heard that steam clears up phlegm and congestion, but this idea is not scientifically supported.
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.
2_Keep it moist and warm
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially warm fluids, helps loosen 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 must be! Keeping warm is an easy home remedy to calm 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.
3 methods of heating are:
Wear warm clothes to protect from cold temperatures
snuggle up in bed with an extra blanket
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4_ Use ingredients that promote respiratory health
Try foods and drinks that contain lemon, ginger, and garlic. A 2018 study found that it can help treat 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 the 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 might 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 useful 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 they move slowly, they stay in the affected area of your body for a long time.
In general, 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, check with your doctor before adding any new ingredients to your diet.
5_ 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 sore throats.
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 does not contain the irritating chlorine.
Drink some of the mixture and turn your head back a little.
Gargle without drinking the mixture.
Exhale for 30-60 seconds to clear your throat, then spit out the water.
Repeat if necessary.
If you don’t want to rinse it off with salt water, there’s an easier and more effective alternative for thinning phlegm: saline. A saline solution is a salt solution that can be used as a nasal spray or in a neti pot. It’s available over the counter and a natural sinus reliever.
A 2018 study supports the idea that saline is absorbed by mucus after more than a week of use.