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What are the Best Ways to Stop Spitting up Phlegm?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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The primary way to stop spitting up phlegm is to get rid of the mucus which causes it. Doing this may require different actions since phlegm accumulation can be caused by various things. Smokers should give up cigarettes, and those with an illness will need to seek medical care to alleviate symptoms. Most phlegm is caused by irritation in the lungs or throat. Viruses, bacterial infections, and allergens can all cause this irritation.

Spitting up phlegm is a symptom of another condition rather than a condition in and of itself. One common cause is smoking. Inhaled smoke and other chemicals found in cigarettes and other forms of smoking tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs leads to tar buildup and irritation in the lungs. In response, the tissues of the lungs produce mucus, or phlegm, to get rid of these irritants. The only way to reduce mucous production in this case is to quit smoking. This can be done using nicotine supplements, medications, and other natural methods.

Illness may also cause patients to spit up phlegm. These conditions can include the common cold, influenza, pneumonia, and sometimes allergies. Reducing mucus in these cases requires the illness to be successfully treated. Most minor viral conditions eventually heal on their own, while allergies may require the use of medication.

Until the underlying cause is found and treated, patients can speed up the process of spitting up phlegm by taking medication to loosen the mucus, inhaling steam, and avoiding foods which lead to excessive mucus production, such as milk. When mucus is coughed up, it should be spat into a sink or toilet and then clean away thoroughly. Mucus may be highly contagious, and all surfaces which come in contact with it should be disinfected.

Some illnesses which result in spitting up phlegm may be serious and require hospitalization. Pneumonia is one example. This condition can lead to labored breathing and sepsis in severe cases and is especially dangerous in the elderly and in young children. Mucus may need to be loosened with a prescription medication, and sometimes machines are used to suction the lungs more thoroughly.

Excessive mucus production or phlegm that is discolored or tinged with blood should always be reported to a medical professional. Most of the time, spitting up phlegm is not serious, but in some cases an underlying condition may be to blame. Colds or flu that last longer than a week or two should also be investigated more thoroughly.

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Discussion Comments
By anon961942 — On Jul 21, 2014

I have been spitting up clear stuff for a couple of years now. I have really bad allergies so I'm thinking that might be the cause. Also, I could have a mold problem but I'm moving in a few days. I also have been vomiting for over two years now and I'm not sure why. It's not my gall bladder or liver or pancreas. Now I'm wondering if it is caused by all my allergies or the mold that may be in my house. Has anyone else had these symptoms and knows why?

By anon961516 — On Jul 17, 2014

If it is a virus or bacterial infection, you could try a very old and safe method using colloidal silver, kills all pathogens and viruses, and make your own or buy some. Making your own is very easy and very cheap in the long term. Hope this will help.

By anon958288 — On Jun 26, 2014

My mother has been suffering with mucus problems for the last few years. No one has given us a permanent solution. Is there a permanent solution? I'll be very thankful to anyone who can tell us how to stop it.

By anon317992 — On Feb 05, 2013

My name is Bhushan and I am from Punjab, India. I'm suffering from a very dangerous problem called phlegm. I want to know what's the cause and how can I get relief from this chest and throat mucus problem.

By cloudel — On Jan 05, 2012

@Oceana – A sinus infection can most definitely lead to bronchitis. This has happened to me before, and I can tell you that the longer you wait, the more saturated with phlegm your chest will become.

I was stubborn and wanted to see if it would go away on its own, too. It got progressively worse, and I seemed to be coughing up phlegm with every breath. When it got to the point that I could no longer take a full breath, I went to the doctor.

She gave me antibiotics and an expectorant that helped me cough up the phlegm more easily. It felt like a huge workout, and my abdominal muscles got sore from all the coughing, but I got rid of a lot of phlegm this way.

It took about a week for the cough to get better. I continued to cough up small amounts of mucus for months, but it was nothing compared to before.

I would suggest going right now to the doctor. You will feel so much better after you get medication.

By Oceana — On Jan 05, 2012

I have had a sinus infection for a couple of months now, and I have begun coughing up yellow mucus. I have avoided going to the doctor, because I thought it would go away on its own.

This phlegm in my chest is starting to worry me. It seems that my condition is getting worse instead of improving.

Has anyone ever heard of a sinus infection leading to bronchitis? If that is what is happening, I know I will need to get it taken care of by a doctor. My sister had bronchitis one year, and she got so ill that it took her months to recover.

By lighth0se33 — On Jan 04, 2012

@shell4life – That is wonderful that he was able to quit. I wish my dad had been as successful at his attempt to stop smoking.

He smoked for thirty years, and during that time, he went around the house coughing up mucus. To me, it was a sure sign that he wasn't in good health, and I couldn't understand why he didn't see this.

He eventually developed emphysema. Now, he coughs up even more mucus.

All of this makes me glad that many public places are now smoke-free. I lived in fear that his secondhand smoke might cause me health problems, but now that I'm away from it, I feel much better. I like knowing that my children and I no longer have to be exposed to it in restaurants and public parks.

By shell4life — On Jan 03, 2012

My husband smoked for seven years, and he was frequently coughing up phlegm. It was really gross, because he would spit it into the sink and forget to rinse it down.

I stayed on his case constantly about needing to quit smoking. Finally, his workplace raised the insurance rates for smokers and offered them free help to quit. He took advantage of this and got phone coaching and nicotine patches, and he has now been smoke-free for three months.

He continued to cough up the phlegm for about a month after he stopped smoking. Now, he has no more phlegm. I am so happy that he was able to take this important step toward improving his health.

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