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What To Do For Mucus In The Throat

How To Remove Excess Mucus In The Throat

Adam Partridge, PA-C Profile Photo

Written by Adam Partridge, PA-C on July 27, 2021

Excess mucus in the throat can lead to constant coughing, throat-clearing, and discomfort… but getting rid of it may not be as complicated as you expect.

Mucus in your throat is rarely caused by something serious. Instead, minor illnesses or allergies are usually the cause, and both of these are generally pretty easy to treat. That said, the proper treatment method will vary a little bit depending on the exact cause, which is why it is so important to build a better understanding of what exactly mucus is and why your body may be producing so much of it.

Fret no more. This is your complete guide to mucus in the throat and what you can do to get rid of this pesky symptom.

The Culprit: Mucus Overproduction

Even though mucus can be annoying, it actually plays a key role in keeping you healthy. Mucus works to line your sinuses, lungs, mouth, stomach, and intestines in order to keep them moist, serving as a lubricant that prevents tissues from drying out.

Even more, mucus is actually one line of defense for your body when antigens come along. Mucus helps filter out anything you breathe in, like microorganisms and allergens. When something unwanted enters your airways, the mucus traps it and prevents it from causing harm.

That said, when your body starts producing too much mucus, it can cause some problems. Infections, for example, can inflame the mucous membranes in your nose and airways, thus causing your airway glands to produce more mucus… and, you guessed it, this is what causes excess mucus in your throat.

Allergies can also cause excess mucus by causing your immune system to overreact to things like pollen, dust, and pet dander. As a response, the cells in your airway release histamine, and this histamine can cause the mucous membranes to swell which then causes your glands to produce more mucus.

Below are the most common reasons why you may be dealing with mucus in your throat and ways you can find relief.

Postnasal Drip

Essentially, postnasal drip happens when your body produces too much mucus, and the excess mucus starts to drip down your throat. As you could imagine, this leads to a constant feeling that there is mucus in your throat, and this is also one of the most common causes of a cough.

Symptoms of postnasal drip include:

  • Feeling of mucus draining down your throat
  • Frequent swallowing
  • Frequent throat-clearing
  • Raspy voice
  • Sore, irritated throat
  • Feeling like you have a lump in your throat

Thus, if postnasal drip is causing your problems, you will likely have a sore and irritated throat alongside the mucus in your throat.

Postnasal drip can be caused by many things, but the most common causes include:

  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Allergies
  • Overly sensitive nose, also known as nonallergic rhinitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Age

If you recently came down with a cold or other infection, you may still be dealing with post nasal drip. That said, if you are not really sure what is causing your problem, it is a good idea to get in touch with your doctor so that you can find relief and get a diagnosis if necessary.

If you have spoken to your doctor and have confirmation that you are, in fact, dealing with post nasal drip as the result of a cold or infection, over-the-counter medicine may help relieve your symptoms.

Chest Congestion

Chest congestion, also referred to as a chest cold or acute bronchitis, happens when the airways of your lungs become swollen, and mucus is produced in the lungs. This mucus in your lungs results in a cough, and your cough may be productive.

A chest cold is most often caused by a virus, and it tends to happen after you have had an upper respiratory infection.

Symptoms of a chest cold include:

  • Coughing with or without mucus
  • Soreness or tightness in the chest
  • Fatigue
  • Mild headaches
  • Mild body aches
  • Sore throat

If chest congestion is to blame for the mucus in your throat, you will probably have a cough, too, but if you are not sure whether or not acute bronchitis is the culprit, you should consult your doctor.

Acute bronchitis usually gets better on its own with no treatment at all, but it does not hurt to consult your doctor if your symptoms are particularly uncomfortable and they can work to prescribe higher-strength cough suppressants and antibiotics as necessary.

While you are recovering, some over-the-counter medications may be able to take the edge off of your cough and chest congestion.

Choose medicine that is both a cough suppressant and a cough expectorant, and works to help control a cough, relieve chest congestion, and thin and loosen mucus. Thus, if your kiddo has mucus in their throat alongside the productive cough associated with acute bronchitis, the product can ease all their symptoms.

Artificial ingredients can cause allergic reactions and other adverse effects, and you probably do not want to deal with that on top of whatever symptoms you’re trying to soothe. Instead of artificial ingredients, to ensure they are well taken care of, choose medicine with non-GMO natural ingredients.

How To Find Relief

Finding relief from the symptoms associated with your body’s overproduction of mucus does not have to be quite so complicated. In fact, there are plenty of home remedies that may be able to soothe your discomfort.

Common home remedies for chest congestion and mucus in the throat include:

  • Lemon and honey: Mixing some lemon and honey into a cup of warm water or a cup of your favorite tea can be a great and easy way to get some relief. Honey helps soothe an irritated throat, and it also has antibacterial properties which can come in handy if you have a bacterial infection. Lemon is packed full of vitamin C, which may help support your immune system while you recover. Plus, lemons, too, have antibacterial properties that can help get rid of any bacteria that may be furthering the accumulation of mucus in your throat.
  • Gargling with salt water: Adding some salt to a cup of warm water and gargling with it is another great way to get rid of mucus in your throat and respiratory tract.
  • Inhaling steam and adding moisture to the air: Running a hot shower and sitting in the steam for a while is a simple way to reduce the mucus in your throat and soothe your irritated airways. This method can help loosen mucus and phlegm, making it easier to cough up and get rid of. Additionally, since dry air can further aggravate symptoms, using a humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture back into the air - especially at night - may help bring relief.
  • Stay hydrated: Making sure to drink plenty of fluids can help thin and loosen any mucus in your throat.
  • Sleep: Sleep helps keep your immune system up and running. If an illness is what is causing the excess mucus, then make sure that you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep so that your body can fight off the infection.

These home remedies can prove to be highly effective for excess mucus, but if your symptoms do not respond to treatment, you should consult your doctor for advice about the next step that you should take.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to mucus in your throat, the cause is hardly ever anything serious, but this does not mean you should avoid contacting your doctor.

Most often, mucus in the throat is caused by postnasal drip or chest congestion, both of which are highly treatable with over-the-counter medications or home remedies. You should consult a doctor before trying medicines, especially if you are not totally sure what is causing your symptoms, and you should also call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve with treatment.

That said, over-the-counter cold or cough medicine really may be all it takes to find some relief.

Hopefully you feel better soon!



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