- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
How to Get Rid of Phlegm and Mucus in the Throat, Lungs, and Chest
Phlegm with Bronchitis and COPD
Phlegm is a secretion of mucus on the respiratory lining that gets accumulated in the throat, chest, or lungs for those with respiratory conditions like bronchitis, COPD, T.B, and so forth. The process of breathing is interrupted and creates a disgusting feeling. This is a daily problem for patients affected with the above listed respiratory diseases. Since these diseases are usually chronic, phlegm can be very interruptive in the course of one's normal life and can even cause suffocation unless it's cleared off.
This is not a serious problem among healthy and younger patients because they have more physical strength to expel and counteract phlegm. However in the case of older and less healthy people, this is troublesome, since there is often a lack of sufficient muscular strength to expel the phlegm. Even the normal airway mechanisms to expel it are hindered, increasing the difficulty levels.
Aside from trying to avoid constant phlegm formation, you may also need to know how to get rid off and clear the accumulated phlegm from the nasal tracks.
How Phlegm Accumulates
Phlegm is a normal mucus secretion of the respiratory tract that adheres to any tiny dust particles passing into lungs during breathing. A brushy layer called cilia then moves in one particular direction, driving the mucus towards the throat for expulsion.
For those with infections, the mucus secretion is more constant and may be so sticky that the cilia are unable to move and drive up efficiently. There could also be a decrease of cilia function, due to excess inflammation itself in cases of T.B. and bronchitis.
This cilia function is also far more decreased in older adults, making it more difficult for them to expel accumulated phlegm,
How to Loosen and Get Rid of Phlegm
1. Drink more water: A higher water level in the body enhances the hydration of tissues and it can help minimize the stickiness and concentration of the phlegm. This makes expulsion of the phlegm is easier.
2. Use of mulcolytics: These are the agents which break up the phlegm texture, making it loose and less sticky. Mucolytics have natural and synthetic origins, and their use greatly decreases the phlegm viscosity. However, constant use is not recommended, because they could have other side effects.
- a. Allopathic. Agents like ambroxol, cyclodextrin, and vasicin act as mucolytics as they break the phlegm texture and make it looser. Guaifenesin is an agent that loosens it by increasing secretions around it. These drugs cut it down, making it less viscous. Note that you should use these drugs as directed by a physician, because combining them with other drugs can cause seriously side effects on heart and your respiratory rate.
- b. Homeopathy. For older patients affected with COPD or bronchitis, they have mucous lining which is devoid of normal functional cilia. This means that the the brushy layer meant to expel mucus is not functional, due to age or inflammation. So taking mucolytics alone will loosen the phlegm, but not help with expulsion. Homeo drugs can aid in this purpose and give you relief. Consult a homeopath with your symptoms in mind.
- c. Natural: Use of salt pellets or clove is an age-old tradition used in more rural areas to help loosen or break the phlegm. Both these are irritants that stimulate the mucous layer to expel the phlegm. Salt may not be recommended for those with high blood pressure. However clove is excellent. It has many benefits, like acting as a stimulant on the mucous, it is an antiseptic to microbes, and also a breath freshener.
- Note: Keep a close watch on any rattling sounds in the chest. If you are experiencing any rattling sounds from the phlegm and mucus during your breathing, act immediately to break the phlegm by using mucolytics as mentioned above, or use homeopathic drugs as per your physician.
3. Breath with your nose: COPD and asthma patients will commonly try to breath with their mouth instead of their nose. However, this has a disadvantage in that phlegm is pushed backwards, making it difficult to expel. So, always try to always breathe with your nose to prevent dust entry into the tract and phlegm back flow, especially if you live in an area with a lot of pollution.
4. Avoid curd: Curd is a milk product formed by action of microbes seems to be enhancing phlegm and interfering with effective action of drugs to control phlegm. Avoid it for the time being, until you are free from phlegm.
This is a great and effective expectorant to break your phlegm, making it loose for easy expulsion.
5. Mechanical removal and physiotherapy techniques: These methods include forced phlegm and mucus aspiration, and also maintaining an inverted posture by raising your chest upwards while your neck is downwards towards floor to enhance phlegm withdrawal from the tract. Forced aspiration has be to done in the presence of a technician, nurse, or a doctor using an aspirator.
6. Frequent coughing: Trying to cough frequently in a controlled way. This can bring out any deep-situated phlegm for expulsion. However, if you have any heart conditions, avoid this tip, as coughing may cause a strain for those with heart issues.
7. Eat peanuts (moistened) and jaggery: This is especially useful if one is going out for a walk in a dusty surroundings or more rural areas. Even those without lung infections can eat this in preparation for work in dusty environments. This method is said to expel the phlegm and keep the lungs free of it.
Lastly, know that it is also important to control your phlegm formation and that the focus is not just to get rid of it.