What is Phlegm?

Phlegm is a type of mucus secreted by the mucous membranes of the body, particularly those in the nose and lungs. It contains proteins, cells, and other debris from the airways and throat. It can be clear or yellowish in color and it ranges in consistency from thin and watery to thick and sticky.

What are the Symptoms of Phlegm?

The presence of phlegm can be associated with any of the following symptoms:

  • A dry or wet cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Hoarseness
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Irritability

What Causes Phlegm?

Phlegm is typically caused by infection of the respiratory tract, including the sinuses, nose, throat, and bronchi. The most common causes of phlegm are viral infections, such as the common cold, influenza (flu), and bronchitis. Allergic reactions to dust, pet dander, and other substances also can cause excessive production of mucus, resulting in phlegm.

How is Phlegm Treated?

Treatment for phlegm depends on the underlying cause. If the phlegm is due to an infection, oral or inhaled antibiotics may be prescribed. In cases of allergies, antihistamines and other allergy medications may help reduce the production of phlegm. In more severe cases, a corticosteroid inhaler can help reduce inflammation in the airways.

To reduce the amount of phlegm, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Gargling with warm salt water is also beneficial to loosen mucus. Inhaling steam, using a cool-mist humidifier, and using nasal irrigation can also help. If the phlegm is associated with smoking, quitting is essential for long-term treatment.