The most annoying part about catching a cold or a cough is “phlegm” – it is what generally is referred to as ‘snot’. It is basically a type of mucus that is produced in your chest. Mucus can form a protective lining in certain parts of your body, even when you are not sick to protect your body from foreign invaders. Things like allergies, smoking, and infections can make this build-up worse and lead to chest congestion, and more serious lung problems. So, how do you get rid of phlegm?
Dr Mihir Gangakhedkar, Consultant Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, Maharashtra told Health Shots, “Phlegm or mucus is produced as a response to an irritant from the environment. This is normal quantities can be protective as it helps to trap irritants or help expel them in a cough. Excess phlegm or difficulty to expel phlegm can be tackled as per its cause or origin.”
Here are some steps to help eliminate excess mucus and phlegm suggested by the pulmonologist:
Exposure to smoking and secondhand smoke can cause your body to produce more phlegm, finds a study published in the American Thoracic Society. “Smoking cessation for active smokers is by far the most important intervention to reduce phlegm production,” says Dr Gangakhedkar. So, if you don’t want irritating phlegm messing it up for you, avoid smoking.
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to get rid of phlegm naturally. “Sufficient hydration with fluids can help keep the phlegm loose in consistency and makes it easier to expel,” explains the doctor. So, chug on at least 6-8 glasses of water every day to get rid of phlegm and mucus.
As per the expert, people who have allergic tendencies or are asthmatics should avoid exposure to smoke and dust. It could lead to mucus dripping from the back of the nose to the throat and persistent coughing. It is best to avoid places with too much dust and smoke that can reach your lungs, and cause problems.
Steam therapy has been a sure-shot remedy practised by many people for decades. Dr Gangakhedkar explains, “Phlegm as a consequence of a running nose can be managed with steam inhalation, as controlling the running nose can reduce the production of phlegm in the chest as well.”
If nothing works, don’t sit and suffer in agony as you deal with chest congestion at home. Sometimes these natural ways fail to work, and that’s when you need to take help from a doctor. The experts suggest opting for therapies like nasal decongestants, nebulized medications, and inhalers that can help individuals. “An individual with excess phlegm may also benefit from meeting a respiratory physiotherapist who can advise techniques to loosen the mucus and provide devices to help the same,” recommends Dr Gangakhedkar.
Caution: Treatment can also depend on the cause of the problem. So, a visit to a pulmonologist for investigating the cause of excess phlegm in individual cases may be warranted.
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