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  • Writer's pictureRoger

Breathe Easier: Expert Advice on Managing Throat Phlegm

The constant need to clear my throat or cough was genuinely hindering my ability to lead a normal, joyful life.


That's why I'm eager to discuss the root causes of these bothersome issues today.


Let’s dive in so that you can so you can avoid these struggles to the best of your ability!


What is Phlegm and Mucus?


Phlegm and mucus is that stringy, slick, sticky substance your body produces to trap germs and material before they can enter the rest of the body. Mucus also lubricates the organs, tissues, and cavities to prevent irritation and fight infection.


It is produced by mucus membranes that line the cavities and organs of the body. Your body produces 1 to 1.5 liters (about 4 to 6 cups) of mucus per day.


The type that ends up in your nasal passages and throat is produced by the membranes lining the cavities and organs of your upper respiratory tract, such as your nose, throat, and mouth. This often makes it difficult to breathe through your nose.


The type you “cough up” is called phlegm, and it’s produced by your lower respiratory tract, i.e., trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Depending on the cause, extra phlegm in your lower respiratory tract often leads to chest congestion. This, too, can make it difficult to breathe.


Though your body is a mucus-producing machine, the only time you’ll notice this substance is when it thickens, causing it to accumulate in and/or drip down the back of your throat.


What Causes Excess Mucus?


Excess mucus production in the lungs, nose, and throat is typically caused by inflammation due to irritation of the membranes, immune system overreaction, or infection.


Here are a few factors that can cause excess mucus in the upper and/or lower respiratory system:

  • Seasonal allergies, i.e., pollen

  • Non-seasonal allergies (rhinitis), i.e. dust mites

  • Asthma

  • Foods, i.e. dairy, gluten

  • Colds and flu

  • A dry indoor environment

  • Dehydration

  • Certain medications

  • Smoking

  • Pregnancy

  • Lung diseases, i.e. cystic fibrosis, bronchitis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Bacterial or viral lung infections

  • Throat disorders, i.e. strep throat, laryngitis

  • Acid reflux

  • Sinusitis or sinus infection

  • Neurological inflammation that mistakenly signals the body to make extra mucus or phlegm

Nasal Sprays


A nasal spray is effective for temporarily clearing nasal congestion caused by colds, allergies, sinus infections, or acute sinusitis.


The three most commonly used types of nasal sprays are steroid, antihistamine, and decongestant.


When using nasal sprays, follow the package direction, and pay particular attention to any cautions. For instance, overuse of decongestant nasal sprays can have a “rebound effect”. This means that your congestion may worsen once you stop using it.

Expectorants


An expectorant drug thins and loosen phlegm from the respiratory tract. This makes your cough more productive, allowing it to clear the phlegm from your chest.


Taking a good expectorant is an excellent way to soothe the symptoms of chest congestion, such as a painful cough.


There are two main types of expectorants: Guaifenesin and potassium iodide.

The most common expectorant is Guaifenesin, as it is generally well-tolerated by most people. These drugs are available without a prescription. Brand names include Mucinex, Robitussin Chest Congestion.


If you have chest congestion, DO NOT use a cough suppressant drug, or an expectorant that includes a cough suppressant, as it will hinder your ability to cough up the phlegm.


Decongestants


Decongestant medications decrease inflammation in the nose, sinus, and chest. This helps get rid of congestion, helping you breathe easier.


These medications are readily available without a prescription to treat symptoms of cold, flu, and allergies. But because they dilate blood vessels, they can raise blood pressure. For this reason, decongestants are not recommended for those with high blood pressure or heart problems.


Home Remedies to Clear Mucus


In most cases, mucus can be relieved with home remedies. Here are a few of the most popular ways to naturally clear it so that you can breathe easily.


Stay Hydrated


It might surprise you to know that dehydration is a common cause of congestion of your airways and lungs.


After all, an estimated 60% of the human body is composed of water, though this can vary between 45% to 75%. Consequently, losing just 3% of your body weight in water can result in dehydration, which can hamper cognitive performance, muscle reaction, and other bodily functions and negatively affect all aspects of your health.


By the way…your brain is a whopping 80% to 85% water, so even slight dehydration can make cognitive tasks difficult.


Dehydration can also make mucus thicker and more noticeable.


The solution?


DRINK MORE WATER!


To stay hydrated, experts recommend that women drink 9 cups of water per day and that men drink 13 cups. If you’re sweating at times during the day, i.e. while exercising or exerting yourself outside on a hot day, you should drink more than the recommended minimum to replace the water you lost.


If you have any medical conditions, however, see a doctor before significantly increasing your water intake. Some health conditions make it necessary to limit your fluids.


Use a Humidifier


A humidifier is a machine that adds water vapors to the air. This moisturizes your nose, throat, and lungs, so there is no need for your body to produce extra mucus.


Using a humidifier is a great way to prevent or get rid of phlegm and mucus.


Essential Oils


Essential oils are concentrated oils derived from plants. Ancients used essential oils for medicinal purposes. And it seems they have never gone out of style, as they are currently used in alternative healing practices, aromatherapy, and skincare. These oils can be used in diffusers, incense sticks, and rubbed on the body.

Consider this: the global market value of essential oils is expected to grow from $17 billion USD in 2017 to about $27 billion by 2022.


There is even scientific studies attesting to the benefits of essential oils.


Essential oils said to be best for mucus and phlegm include:


• Eucalyptus

• Peppermint

• Lavender

• Rosemary

• Rose

Make sure you use 100% pure essential oils, as others are often diluted with less expensive ingredients.


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