Many patients come to the clinic complaining of excessive mucus production.  

Phlegm or mucus (also known as बलगम in Hindi) bothers people a lot. It is a thick, sticky, gelatinous material that lines your nose, sinuses (hollow cavities in your skull), throat and lungs. 

Mucus is more noticeable when you are sick, but did you know that you have it all the time? It can be annoying when produced in excess, yet your body needs it to function properly. 

Its main function is to trap dust, allergens, and viruses in your airways and prevent them from entering your body. It also contains antibodies and enzymes that fight bacteria and other infections.

Did you know that the human body produces about one litre of mucus per day? Thus, mucus is an essential secretion of your body and helps to lubricate the air passages as well as keep you safe from external allergens. 

Read on to know what causes the overproduction of mucus and how to manage it.

Causes of Mucus Production

Some health conditions may cause excessive secretion of mucus and they are:

1. Infections. Viral or bacterial infections of the airways can lead to excess mucus production. It should be borne in mind that an infection normally produces mucus that is clear and watery.Transformation of the mucus into a thicker, yellowish, foul-smelling discharge is an indication of a secondary infection.

This is common in the case of acute bacterial sinusitis (bacterial infection in both nose and sinus) or bacterial pneumonia [an infection that causes inflammation (redness and swelling) of the air sacs in one or both lungs].

2. Allergies. One of the most common manifestations of allergies is an increased secretion of mucus due to stimulation of the glands. This secretion is usually watery, and sometimes profuse.

3. Asthma. It is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell, thus producing excess mucus which causes breathing difficulty. 

4. Acidity and reflux. It happens when contents from your stomach move up into your food pipe, especially while lying down. 

5. Smoking. Chronic smoking can irritate the lining of your nose, throat, lungs and increase mucus production.

6. A highly polluted environment. Air pollutants may cause the same effects as smoking and it leads to an increase in mucus production.

Treatment and Home Remedies

Although mucus is a healthy part of your respiratory system, excess mucus can make you feel uncomfortable. 

Here are some ways to rid of it:

Home Remedies

  • Avoid allergens. It is the simplest and most effective way to avoid an allergy or infection. Avoid smoky and dusty places, keep air purifiers in your home if air quality is poor, keep doors and windows closed to avoid dust from getting in.Wash your bed linen frequently with hot water and put it in the sun to dry. This helps remove dust mites, which are the most common allergens.

  • Keep the atmosphere humid. Using a humidifier, especially during the winters, helps keep the nasal passages moist and reduces the risk of allergies.

  • Quit smoking. Cigarette smoke contains toxic chemicals that can damage your delicate mucosal lining. If you smoke indoors, you might put others at risk of secondhand smoke.

  • Take steam inhalation. Inhaling steam at least once before bedtime helps to clear the airways of dust particles and pollutants.

  • Stay hydrated. Make sure to drink lukewarm water throughout the day. It will help to relieve congestion and improve your mucus flow.

When home remedies do not work, you must consult a doctor. The doctor will examine you to detect the cause of your symptoms and treat you accordingly. 

They may prescribe medications such as:

  • Anti-allergic medications. The newer generation of these medications is safe and non-drowsy.

  • Decongestants (medicines that provide relief from blocked or stuffy nose). They can be taken either orally or as an intranasal (administered through the nose) spray.

  • Intranasal medications. This includes steroids and intranasal antihistamines (medicines that relieve symptoms of allergies).

Remember, whatever may be the cause, it is always inadvisable to go about spitting on the pavements or in open spaces. Apart from being unsightly and a public nuisance, there are also chances of spreading the infection to others, especially in the current pandemic situation. It is also an offence. 

The safest way to dispose of mucus is to blow gently into a tissue and discard the tissue immediately. 

Consult your doctor if you have regular occurrences of uncomfortable phlegm or if your phlegm has been troubling you for a month or more.

Disclaimer: This article is written by Practo for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.