When you breathe, allergens, viruses, dust, and other debris stick to your nasal mucus, which then passes out of your system. Sometimes, your body can make too much throat mucus, requiring frequent clearing.
Mucus protects your respiratory system with lubrication and filtration. It’s produced by mucous membranes that run from your nose to your lungs.
Keep reading to learn what causes excess mucus production in your throat and what you can do about it.
There are a number of health conditions that can trigger excess mucus production, such as:
- acid reflux
- infections, such as the common cold
- lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Excess mucus production can also result from certain lifestyle and environmental factors, such as:
- a dry indoor environment
- low consumption of water and other fluids
- high consumption of fluids that can lead to fluid loss, such as coffee, tea, and alcohol
- certain medications, such as certain birth control medications and ACE Inhibitors, for example lisinopril
If the overproduction of mucus becomes a regular and uncomfortable occurrence, consider consulting with your healthcare professional for a full diagnosis and a treatment plan.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications
Your doctor may recommend medication such as:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines: Expectorants, such as guaifenesin (Mucinex, Robitussin), can thin and loosen mucus so it will clear out of your throat and chest.
- Prescription medications: Mucolytics, such as hypertonic saline (Nebusal) and dornase alfa (Pulmozyme), are mucus thinners that you
inhalethrough a nebulizer. If your excess mucus is triggered by a bacterial infection, your doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics.
Your doctor may also suggest some self-care steps you can take to help reduce mucus, such as:
- Gargle with warm salt water: This home remedy can help clear mucus from the back of your throat and may help kill germs.
- Humidify the air: Moisture in the air can help keep your mucus thin.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking enough liquids, especially water, can help loosen congestion and help your mucus flow. Warm liquids can be effective but avoid caffeinated beverages.
- Elevate your head: Lying flat can make it feel like the mucus is collecting in the back of your throat.
- Avoid decongestants: Although decongestants dry secretions, they may make it more difficult to reduce mucus.
- Avoid irritants, fragrances, chemicals, and pollution: These can irritate mucous membranes, signaling the body to produce more mucus.
- If you smoke, try to stop. Quitting smoking is helpful, especially with chronic lung diseases such as asthma or COPD.
- Try certain foods: Garlic, radishes, and high fiber fruit like apples may help reduce mucus. However, avoid high fat or dairy foods, as that can worsen phlegm.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- Excess mucus has been present for more than 4 weeks.
- Your mucus is getting thicker.
- Your mucus is increasing in volume or changing color.
- You have a fever.
- You have chest pain.
- You’re experiencing shortness of breath.
- You’re coughing up blood.
- You’re wheezing.
What’s the difference between mucus and phlegm?
Mucus is produced by the lower airways in response to inflammation. When it’s excess mucus that’s coughed up — it’s referred to as phlegm.
What’s the difference between mucus and mucous?
The answer is not medical: Mucus is a noun, and mucous is an adjective. For example, mucous membranes secrete mucus.
Should I be worried about phlegm in my throat?
Having phlegm or mucus doesn’t necessarily mean you have something serious. However, you could have something that needs to be medically treated, so it’s a good idea to see your doctor.
Is it normal to have phlegm every day?
Regular mucus production is normal. It’s the way your body gets rid of irritants in your throat and nasal passages. However, if you’re coughing it out and it doesn’t seem to resolve, it may be a sign of an infection or other condition.
Your body is always producing mucus. Overproduction of mucus in your throat is often the result of a minor illness that should be allowed to run its course.
Sometimes, however, excess mucus can be a sign of a more serious condition. See your healthcare provider if the:
- overproduction of mucus is persistent and recurring
- amount of mucus you’re producing increases dramatically
- excess mucus is accompanied by other concerning symptoms