Throat mucus is the phlegm that lingers at the base of our throats when we are sick, but it also affects heavy smokers and those suffering from allergies causing sore throat and other problems.
The nose and throat glands produce approximately one to two liters of mucus a day, and more if you’re sick or if allergies have kicked in. Mucus can come from the stomach (because the throat is close to the digestive tract) and from the sinuses.
Other causes of excessive mucus in the throat are air pollution, dairy products, strep throat, laryngitis, croup, mononucleosis, inhaling irritating chemicals, pregnancy, and anxiety. Here’s how to reduce mucus in the throat.
Why Do I Get Mucus in My Throat?
Aside from the above, the following are generally the four most common reasons that excessive mucus develops in the throat.
1. Post-nasal drip. Normally we don’t notice the mucus that coats the membranes in the nose, throat, and airway, but when too much is produced, or it becomes thicker than normal, it can pool in our throats, irritating us and making us cough. Postnasal drip means the mucus is running from the nose to the back of the throat.
2. Cold or flu. Clear, thin mucus is produced when we are sick with a cold or the flu, and it can thicken and turn yellow and green if there’s an infection.
3. Pregnancy. When pregnant, women produce far more estrogen than normal and estrogen linked to the production of more mucus than normal. Many pregnant women experience nasal congestion and sneezing.
4. Seasonal allergies. Telltale signs of a seasonal allergy are itchy throat, watery eyes, sneezing, mucus in the throat, and coughing.
Is Mucus in the Throat a Serious Health Issue?
Throat mucus is common and expected when sick or suffering from allergies, but sometimes you may need to give it more consideration and concern, because it may indicate a more serious health problem.
1. Thin and clear mucus may be the result of a deviated septum or some kind of irregularity in the nasal passage.
2. Thick mucus in the throat can be an indication that your environment is too dry. If this is the case, drink more water and/or run a humidifier at night while you sleep.
3. Some people have an issue with swallowing that allows some of their mucus to drip down into their chest, which can cause a “chest rattle,” which can sometimes lead to aspiration pneumonia.
4. A burning sensation similar to heartburn with a feeling of mucus being lodged in the throat may indicate acid reflux.
What Symptoms May Occur with Throat Mucus?
Throat mucus really only has the one obvious symptom: excessive mucus in the throat, though that mucus can also affect the nasal passages and chest. There are, however, other symptoms that, while not directly related to throat mucus, may be a part of the larger infectious disease (like a cold or flu) that is causing the mucus. These other symptoms include:
- Muscle aches;
- Loss of appetite;
- Watery eyes;
- Fever with or without chills;
- Sore, dry throat or itch, scratchy and bumps in throat; and
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Allergy symptoms that can occur with phlegm include:
- Itchy nose and ears;
- Wheezing; and
- Runny, stuffy nose and postnasal drip.
How to Reduce Throat Mucus Naturally*
When mucus becomes a problem, then the desire to get rid of or least get it under control is strong, as excessive throat mucus can make it difficult to function at work or sleep at night. A throat mucus home remedy can help ease the discomfort, whether you are on antibiotics or using another kind of medical aid. The at-home treatments below work well on their own and in conjunction with anything a doctor has prescribed.
1. Using a Neti Pot
The neti pot has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years. Neti means nasal cleansing in Sanskrit, and that’s exactly what it’s used for. The principle behind the neti pot is nasal irrigation, which is clearing out the nasal passages using a saline water solution. You fill the pot with warm saltwater, tilt your head to one side and the pour the solution into the upper nostril. The water will then run through your nasal passages and come out the other nostril. You then repeat this on the other side. This can be done a few times a day.
2. Apply Warm Compresses
Heat helps break up and release mucus, so using heat on the face will provide comfort. Take a facecloth and run it under hot water. Wring out the excess liquid and then place it over your eyes and nose and leave it on until the heat dissipates. Repeat a few times per session and again a few times per day.
Foods that Are Good and Bad for Your Throat Mucus
When suffering from excessive throat mucus, there are some foods that should be avoided because they only make the situation worse. Other foods should be consumed because they may alleviate symptoms.
Foods that Relieve Throat Mucus
- Water; drink at least eight glasses a day
- Spicy foods with chili and curry
- Hot tea and/ or hot broth (chicken or beef are the best), which helps break up congestion
- Hot milk with turmeric and honey; turmeric is an antiseptic that will help break up the mucus
Foods that Cause Throat Mucus
- Dairy products, so avoid all of them—milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream—until the mucus production has subsided
- Fried foods
Tips to Remove Mucus From Your Throat
The tickle of excessive mucus in the throat is bothersome, and getting rid of it is important to helping you feel more comfortable. Below are some tips to get rid of mucus from your throat*.
- Quit smoking
- Don’t drink milk
- Have a hot bath; the steam will help
- Use a humidifier in your room at night
- Drink hot water with lemon and honey
- Blow your nose
- Cough up the excess mucus
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Throat Mucus,” Native Remedies web site;
http://www.nativeremedies.com/ailment/phlegm-and-throat-mucus.html, last accessed March 16, 2016.
“Phlegm Symptoms – Symptoms,” healthgrades web site;
http://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/ear-nose-and-throat/phlegm-symptoms–symptoms, last accessed March 16, 2016.
“The History of the Neti Pot,” Neil Med web site;
http://www.neilmed.com/neilmedblog/2011/06/the-history-of-the-neti-pot/, last accessed March 17, 2016.
“How to Get Rid of Mucus,” Wikihow web site;
http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Mucus/, last accessed March 17, 2016.