How to get rid of mucus in throat: causes and treatment? 

mucus in throat
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Overview

The mucus in the throat is normal and essential for trapping dust and allergens, preventing them from causing health issues. Excessive or thick mucus can result from various conditions such as acid reflux, allergies, asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, and lung-related diseases. It is important to note that excessive mucus is a symptom, not a cause.

Methods to get rid of mucus involve lifestyle changes and medications. Lifestyle modifications include using an air humidifier, staying hydrated, consuming natural teas, saline water gargling, and using eucalyptus and coconut oil. Prescription medications like Hypertonic Saline and Dornase-Alfa (Pulmozyme) may be recommended for chronic conditions.

Consulting a doctor is necessary if home remedies prove ineffective and persistent infection, congestion, and throat mucus persist.

What causes mucus in the throat?

The mucus in the throat is normal, and it is important for your health to tract the dust and allergens, preventing them from entering the body to cause different medical conditions. Excessive mucus or phlegm can be abnormal due to different medical conditions. Some of the causes of excessive or thick mucus are: 

 Mucus is naturally present in the body, usually at the back of the throat, for different purposes, including providing lubrication and working as the protective sticky layer that prevents dust particles and allergens from entering the body, especially the lungs. 

As per the studies conducted, it is also stated that 

Presence of excessive mucus is not a cause but a symptom of various causes.”  

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How to get rid of mucus in the throat?

Getting rid of mucus includes two types of techniques. Lifestyle modifications and medications. 

Lifestyle modifications include : 

  1. Air humidifier usage 
  2. Hydration and warmth 
  3. Natural teas, i.e., ginger and garlic teas.
  4. Saline water gargling 
  5. Eucalyptus and coconut oil 

Air humidifier 

Applying an air humidifier in your living area or where you spend most of your time could cause less dryness in the inhaled air. Air with moisture can help with producing thin mucus in the body. Usually, it becomes problematic and irritating, making breathing, coughing, eating, or drinking difficult

Cool mist humidifiers are usually considered the best of all and are recommended by healthcare professionals. 

Hydration and warmth 

Drinking liquids, water, and fluids that can help with the mucus flow can greatly relieve the mucus congestion. Hot teas and fluids help greatly with mucus congestion caused by colds or infections. 

Other than hydration, staying warm is also important; try having hot soups, warm clothes, and blankets to help you stay warm and treat the congestion. Staying warm will keep you warm and help prevent colds that lead to congestion. 

Natural teas 

Teas made with natural and organic ingredients, i.e., garlic and ginger teas, work as natural antibiotics. They keep the body warm and help thin the mucus built up in the throat due to colds or flu. They are one of the most recommended ways to release tight and thick mucus for any reason by healthcare providers. 

Ginger or garlic boiled in water to get the extracts, and drinking two times a day effectively helps thin the mucus. Chicken soup is helpful for colds and reduces extra mucus. It works by slowing down the movement of white blood cells called neutrophils, which fight infection. When these cells move more slowly, they stay in infected areas of your body longer.

Saline gargling 

Gargling is also one of the most recommended remedies for effectively treating mucus in the throat. They are usually prepared by adding a pinch of salt and using it for gargling three times a day. It effectively releases congestion. They are respiratory health-promoting ingredients and can effectively relieve mucus in the throat.

It helps in thinning the mucus and eventually can get rid of it.

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Eucalyptus and coconut oil 

Eucalyptus essential oils are also recommended as a widely used remedy for treating and thinning phlegm buildup in the back of the throat. Healthcare professionals recommend them, but the FDA has not provided specific studies supporting essential oils to relieve mucus in the throat. 

Prescription medications

If you have certain health issues causing thick mucus in the back of the throat, your doctor might give you medicines to treat the main cause of your symptoms. For chronic lung conditions like cystic fibrosis, there are specific drugs to make your mucus thinner.

  1. Hypertonic Saline: One of the treatments is inhaling hypertonic saline through a nebulizer. It’s stronger than the saline you buy without a prescription, making it more effective. It increases salt in your air passages. It’s for people aged six and older but only brings temporary relief and may cause side effects like cough, sore throat, and chest tightness.
  1. Dornase-Alfa (Pulmozyme): It is another mucus-thinning medicine for cystic fibrosis. You inhale it through a nebulizer, and it’s suitable for people aged six and up. Side effects may include voice loss, rash, throat discomfort, fever, and dizziness.
  1. Other medications: Medications like antihistamines, nasal decongestants, expectorants, and antibiotics can also help greatly with the thick mucus in the throat by thinning the mucus as per your presenting symptoms and medical condition. Your healthcare provider will diagnose the cause and prescribe depending on your medical condition. You can also obtain the prescription for medications using online doctor services.

Is excess phlegm a sign of a serious condition?

Production of excess phlegm is also termed chronic mucus hypersecretion, where the natural production of mucus increases due to several reasons, some of which are: 

Consulting healthcare providers can help you with timely consultation and effective treatment plans to eliminate phlegm and debris. 

When should I worry about mucus in my throat?

Mucus exists in our body naturally with a very thin lining of our throat and several other integral body cavities as part of the body’s immune system. You should worry about mucus in your throat only when it gets extra thick, a sticky-like substance that hinders daily life dietary intake. 

The naturally present mucus gets thick only when: 

  • There is an infection underlying 
  • You have an allergy 
  • You have flared up asthma problem
  • Common cold 
  • You have chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder

These conditions need a consultation from your healthcare provider for timely diagnosis and effective treatment or via online doctor consultation.

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When should I see a doctor?

Phlegm or mucus is the sticky substance present in the back of our throat to protect against dust pollens or any allergens we can inhale. It starts to build up and gets thick in case of any infection, allergy, or cold. Usually, after the simple home remedies, the mucus gets thin again, and the pressure and congestion are released. 

Getting a consultation is needed and helpful when the infection, congestion, and mucus in the throat stay persistent, and home remedies don’t work. 

FAQs about mucus in the throat

Why do I have so much phlegm in my throat all the time?

If you are constantly experiencing phlegm in your throat, most likely, it’s an allergic response to something you are continuously consuming or inhaling. It can also be due to any chronic underlying medical condition. Getting a medical consultation for effective consultation and a well-suited prescription is beneficial. 

Is it safe to use over-the-counter medications for mucus relief?

Yes, using over-the-counter medications for mucus relief and congestion in the back of the throat is safe and effective. The highly recommended over-the-counter medication is Mucinex, which can not only release nasal and throat congestion but also help effectively thin the mucus, eventually leading to relief of mucus. 

Should I be concerned if my mucus is discolored?

It depends on the time and nature of the cause that leads to the mucus. Usually, the mucus’s color is clear, indicating an allergic reaction or any dust/pollen that has gotten into the respiratory system. In case of an infection, Mucus might turn into green or yellow. If it goes away on its own, there is nothing to be concerned about; if it does not, get a medical consultation with a healthcare provider for effective treatment options. 

Should I swallow phlegm or cough it up?

Coughing or spitting the mucus is good, says Dr. Boucher. You are coughing the germs, bacteria, or viruses that cause the congestion. It can also help clear your throat and nasal pressure. Swallowing might irritate your gastrointestinal and respiratory tract more.  

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Chen, Xiaole, et al. “Effects of thermal airflow and mucus-layer interaction on hygroscopic droplet deposition in a simple mouth–throat model.” Aerosol Science and Technology 52.8 (2018): 900-912.
  • Dickey, Burton F. “What it takes for a cough to expel mucus from the airway.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115.49 (2018): 12340-12342.
  • Bonilha, Heather Shaw, et al. “Efficacy of six tasks to clear laryngeal mucus aggregation.” Journal of Voice 31.2 (2017): 254-e11.
  • Narayanan, Jayachandran K., et al. “Numerical study on the impact of mucus layer and inlet air-temperatures on the particle deposition in a highly idealized mouth-throat model using LES.” Powder Technology 395 (2022): 455-475.

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