Do you cough a lot or hear others coughing around you? Coughing indicates the presence of excessive phlegm in the throat. If the coughing is chronic, a doctor should be consulted immediately as it may be a warning sign of disease.
Why do we have phlegm?
Excessive phlegm or secretion in the throat is the result of body fluid produced by secretory glands in the lining of the airways around the nose, throat and trachea. It helps retain moisture and trap foreign bodies such as germs, pollen and dust. Healthy phlegm is clear and colorless. However, abnormalities in the respiratory tract change the color. The phlegm leads to coughing which is how the body clears airway obstructions.
Diseases that cause phlegm
Those experiencing chronic secretion in the throat should check if they are sick with any of these diseases:
· Inflammatory respiratory diseases, including allergies, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis, strep throat, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonitis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, common cold and influenza.
· Gastroesophageal reflux disease. This may not seem relevant, but it does in fact also cause phlegm. The way it works is that acid reflux up to the pharynx from the esophagus stimulates the glands that produce phlegm in the throat.
· Infection, irritation, or injury in the throat, including chronic fungal throat infections, bacteria, viruses, syphilis and tuberculosis.
· Irritation and/or chronic neck injury caused by irritants, pollution, chemicals, and drinking.
How to get rid of phlegm yourself
To get rid of phlegm, people tend to turn to medication. However, there are also some natural ways to tackle the issue. The simplest one is to drink enough water during the day. Warm water is best as it thins the consistency of the phlegm so the body can excrete it more easily. Another way is to gargle with salt water for about 30-60 seconds. This will keep your throat moist, so the phlegm falls away more easily. Certain herbs and such also have phlegm-reducing properties, including ginger, garlic, cloves, licorice, lemon, and honey. They can be used to make drinks – but not too spicy!
Besides gargling, drinking, and eating measures, we can also reduce stimulation of phlegm by taking care around the house. We can use an air humidifier to prevent dehydration in the throat. We can also adjust our daily habits to avoid triggers such as pollen, dust, chemical fumes, and tobacco smoke.
If you experience chronic secretion in your throat, consult a pharmacist or doctor
If reducing phlegm by natural methods doesn’t achieve the desired results, medication is the next option. If you buy medicine yourself, do so from a pharmacy with a pharmacist on duty. If chronic secretion persists in the throat for three weeks, consult a doctor.
Some medicines that treat chronic secretion in the throat are known as mucolytics. They restore balance in the phlegm-producing glands, normalizing the phlegm so it is neither too thin nor to thick. They also stimulate the tissues in the throat to expel phlegm more easily.
Another classification of medicines is expectorants. These reduce the concentration of phlegm by adding moisture in the throat so the body can expel it more easily. They also induce coughing that naturally stimulates excretion of phlegm.
Krungthai-AXA life insurance customers who feel unwell, including experiencing any of these symptoms, can check with the Emma by AXA application.
For more information, please visit https://www.krungthai-axa.co.th/th/emma-by-axa
· King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, the Thai Red Cross Society
· Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University