man gargling to get rid of phlegm

How to get rid of phlegm

Throat feeling all clogged up? It’s likely you’ve got a buildup of phlegm in your system. Phlegm is essentially mucus that’s produced inside of your lungs to help lubricate the respiratory system and trap any dust or dirt. Sometimes, though, you can have an excess of it which swiftly starts to become a real nuisance.1

If clearing your throat continuously just isn’t cutting it, you may be after a few more handy tips on how to get rid phlegm…

First of all, what causes phlegm?

You’re most likely to get phlegm if you’ve got a cold or the flu. If your throat or nose becomes dry, your lungs can overcompensate by producing excess mucus as lubrication.2

There are a few other causes, though, including having an allergic reaction or just having a general irritation in your nose, lungs or windpipe. In rare cases, phlegm can also be a symptom of something more serious..

Eight ways to get rid of phlegm

If you’re struggling to rid yourself of phlegm, try the following tips:3
  1. Drink lots of fluids

When you’ve got a cold, it’s essential that you keep drinking lots of fluids. This should also help flush out any excess phlegm that’s built up in your respiratory system.

  1. Place a warm, wet cloth on your face

To add extra moisture to your nose which should aid in draining away phlegm, try placing a warm, damp cloth over your face. It may also help to relieve any pressure you may have in your sinuses.

  1. Use a nasal spray or solution

If you’ve got a blockage of mucus in your nose or throat, you could try clearing it using nasal spray. These can either be medicated or simply a sterilised saline solution. Always clean the nozzle before you use it.

  1. Invest in a humidifier

Make sure the air in your home stays moist with a humidifier, a device that should help thin out the excess phlegm and allow it to be removed more easily.Dry air can irritate your nose and throat if you’re ill and cause your body to produce even more phlegm to keep them moist.
  1. Cough it up!

One of the simplest ways to get rid of excess mucus is to cough it up. Coughing is a natural way for the body to remove blockages from the throat, however, don’t force it as it could damage your throat further.

  1. Gargle salt water

Gargling is thought to help remove phlegm and soothe any irritation you might have in your throat. Make up a saltwater mix by stirring in one teaspoon of table salt into a glass of water.

  1. Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine

While it may be tempting to have a cuppa or make yourself a hot toddy when you’re under the weather, alcohol and caffeinated drinks may actually exacerbate your phlegm even more. That’s because they both cause dehydration which will lead to lower moisture levels throughout your body – including your nose and throat.

  1. Try a decongestant

If you have a persistent cold and lots of phlegm that refuses to budge after trying all the above methods, it might be time to make a trip to your local pharmacy to pick up a decongestant or vapor rub.

As it says on the tin, these are designed to decongest your nasal passages. Alternatively, you could make your own home remedy using eucalyptus; simply add a few drops to a hot bath or a diffuser and inhale the steam, but be careful not to burn yourself.

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Last updated: 23 June 2020

Ear, Nose, and Throat