What is phlegm?
Phlegm is that thick, sticky stuff that hangs around in the back of your throat when you’re sick. At least that’s when most people notice it. But did you know that you have this mucus all the time?
Mucus membranes make phlegm to protect and support your respiratory system. These membranes line your:
Mucus is sticky so that it can trap dust, allergens, and viruses. When you’re healthy, the mucus is thin and less noticeable. When you’re sick or exposed to too many particles, the phlegm can get thick and become more noticeable as it traps these foreign substances.
Phlegm is a healthy part of your respiratory system, but if it’s making you uncomfortable, you may want to find ways to thin it or remove it from your body.
Keep reading to learn about some natural remedies and over-the-counter medicines, and when you may want to see your doctor.
1. Humidify the air
Moisturizing the air around you can help keep mucus thin. You may have heard that steam can clear phlegm and congestion. There actually isn’t much evidence to support this idea, and it may even cause burns. Instead of steam, you can use a cool mist humidifier. You can run the humidifier safely all day long. You’ll just want to make sure that you change the water each day and clean your humidifier according to the package instruction.
2. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough liquids, especially warm ones, can help your mucus flow. Water can loosen your congestion by helpingTrusted Source your mucus move.
Try sipping anything from juice to clear broths to chicken soup. Other good liquid choices include decaffeinated tea and warm fruit juice or lemon water.
3. Consume respiratory health-promoting ingredients
Try consuming foods and drinks that contain lemon, ginger, and garlic. There’s some anecdotal evidence that these may help treat colds, coughs, and excess mucus. Spicy foodsthat contain capsaicin, such as cayenne or chili peppers, may also helpTrusted Source temporarily clear sinuses and get mucus moving.
There is some scientific evidenceTrusted Source that the following foods and supplements may prevent or treat viral respiratory diseases:
More studies are needed, but for most people, adding these ingredients to your diet is safe to try. If you are taking any prescription medications, ask your doctor before adding any new ingredients to your diet (some can affect the efficacy).