Are you coughing up phlegm and thinking that you are suffering from common cold? Watch out, for you may be having something more serious.
What is Phlegm?
The term ‘Phlegm’ comes from the Greek word ‘phlegma’ meaning inflammation. It actually means the mucus that gets accumulated in your throat and needs to be coughed out. It is a watery substance, often viscous, that varies in color and quantity depending on the sickness you are suffering from. It is produced in the mucous layer of the trachea (windpipe).
In medical terms, phlegm is known as sputum or expectorated matter, meaning coughed out substance.
Coughing Up Phlegm
When the body suffers from an infection or disorder, it causes an accumulation of phlegm in the throat. The mucus irritates the air passage and creates discomfort in the sufferer. It triggers cough which expels the mucus.
Phlegm is normally white in color. A person starts coughing up white phlegm during minor ailments. Clear white phlegm indicates the absence of pus. But the mucus may also be colored. The color of the phlegm depends on the disease causing it. Smoking, infection, air pollution or presence of blood gives a rusty or brown color to the phlegm. Asthmatic patients cough up pink phlegm.
Coughing Up Clear Phlegm
A common cold caused by a general viral infection can lead to allergic irritation of your respiratory organs and make you cough up clear phlegm. Other possible causes can be:
- Postnasal Drip
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Chronic Bronchitis
The clear mucus is the initial attempt of the body to wash away the invading virus. Clear phlegm indicates the absence of blood in the mucus. It can be treated without the use of antibiotics.
Coughing Up Green Phlegm
This happens when there is a bacterial infection in the lungs or the bronchi, such as Tuberculosis. It can also happen because of a post nasal drip due to a sinus infection. It can be cured by avoiding dairy products, starchy foods and excessive meat intake. Drinking plenty of pure water and herbal teas, eating spicy foods and taking hot bath can work as effective home treatments.
Written by anirudh
on November 25th, 2010. The article was last updated on September 3rd, 2011