Mucus in throat makes it hard to breathe, eat and talk, and may wake you up during the night. It is unpleasant, nasty, and sometimes stays with you for longer than expected. Clearing your throat may not make all of your other symptoms go away, but it can make you feel much better. If your throat is congested, there are home remedies and over-the-counter products that can help you clear your throat.
What Causes Mucus in Throat
Mucus actually serves a vital function in the body. It lines the nose, mouth, sinuses, throat, lungs and gastrointestinal tract – helping to lubricate these surfaces, while acting as a filter to remove unwanted substances before they enter the body. Allergies, colds and flu, respiratory and sinus infections, and irritants like environmental pollution and smoke are common triggers that stimulate over-production of mucus.
Allergies can increase the production of mucus. Mucus caused by allergies is usually clear. If you are susceptible to allergies, avoid going outside on days when the pollen count is high, and stay away from mold, dust mites and animal dander.
2. Post-Nasal Drip
Post-nasal drip happens when your body produces excess mucus, and the mucus runs down your throat instead of out your nose. It can be caused by allergies and cold, deviated septa, certain medications (including medicines for hypertension), and fumes from irritants.
Mucus coats organs, keeping them moisturized and preventing them from drying out. It also acts as a kind of first defense against bacteria and pollutants, which often get caught in the mucus before infiltrating the rest of the body. That’s why colds are accompanied by persistent mucus.
If you recently found out you are pregnant, that could explain your problem with mucus. Being pregnant can exacerbate mucus production.
How to Clear Your Throat
1. Drink Enough Water
If you have excessive mucus in your throat, staying hydrated can help soften mucus, making it easier to expel from the body.
- Listen to your thirst and drink as much water as you need to stay satiated. If you’re struggling with a sore throat, you may want to increase your water intake slightly.
- Try to stay away from soda and fruit juices. The added sugar can irritate your throat.
2. Clear Mucus by Coughing
If you have excessive throat mucus, you can evict it by coughing it up. Find a remote place, such as a bathroom, and try to loosen the mucus from your throat by coughing or hacking. Make sure not to cough too hard or too much, as it can do some damage.
3. Brush Your Tongue
When brushing your teeth, take a few minutes to brush the back of your tongue with your toothbrush. This can help clean your throat and mouth in addition to your teeth, and prevents the build up of bad breath and disease causing bacteria.
4. Steam Treatment
Giving yourself a steam treatment helps clear your throat. Warm steam can travel down your throat and sinus, loosening up the mucus that’s lodged there.
- Wrap a towel around your head and breathe in the steam issuing from warm water. Even better, steep some chamomile tea in a large pot, carefully lower your head over it and breathe in the steam.
- Use a humidifier/vaporizer. Allow your humidifier to pump moist air into your room. Take care not to pump toomuch moisture into the air; a little bit goes a long way.
5. Mouth Rinses
Mouth rinses may contain antimicrobial agents to prevent disease, fluoride that reduces tooth decay, and odor neutralizers to combat bad breath. Using a mouth rinse on a daily basis can help clear your throat and prevent bacteria that causes bad breath and a variety of mouth diseases.
Some mouth rinses are merely cosmetic, meaning they seek to eliminate bad breath temporarily but do not have the bacteria fighting powers of stronger brands. Make sure you purchase a mouth rinse that is therapeutic and designed to clean your throat and mouth in addition to eliminating bad breath.
6. Avoid Dairy
Milk and dairy products are believed to increase mucus production, but there is no scientific evidence that this is true. Milk or other dairy may not cause the body to produce more mucus, but in some people the fat content of milk causes the mucus to become thicker and more irritating to your throat.
7. Take Care of Your Tonsils
Tonsils are small collections of lymph tissue in the back of the throat that are often the cause of infections and bad breath. Sometimes, tonsil stones, which are concretions of food particles and mucus, build up in the folds of the tonsils and cause bad breath. They may also make you feel like you’re gagging, or like you need to clear your throat constantly.
If you’re having trouble with tonsil stones, you may need to regularly irrigate your tonsils, using an irrigation system you can purchase at a drug store. If you aren’t able to remove tonsil stones on your own, or they pose a serious problem for you, see your doctor.
Home Remedies to Clear Your Throat
Ginger has antiviral, antibacterial and expectorant properties, which make it a natural decongestant that can lessen mucus in throat. It has been used for respiratory tract infections for ages.
- Add a tablespoon of fresh ginger slices to a cup of boiled water. Let it steep for a few minutes and then add two teaspoons of honey. Drink this ginger tea several times throughout the day.
- You can also chew raw ginger slices several times a day.
2. Herbal Teas
Herbal teas are believed to help soothe the throat. Try a variety of teas and see if you notice any effect on your throat. Chamomile and ginger teas are most frequently cited as helping with congestion.
- Some people find that green tea is soothing for your throat. Try adding lemon or honey for added effect.
3. Cayenne Pepper
The warm and stimulating nature of cayenne pepper helps the body release mucus in throat. It also helps soothes an irritated throat.
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon each of grated fresh ginger and cayenne pepper, one tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and honey, and two tablespoons of water.
- Drink this mixture twice a day to help reduce mucus production.
4. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil has long been used as an herbal mucus relief product. It can be applied externally to relieve congestion, which may help clear up the throat.
The most effective way to use eucalyptus oil is to line the upper chest area with coconut oil and then rub in a few drops of the eucalyptus oil. This might make you cough at first, but after a while it should help clear mucus from your throat.
- You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your vaporizer for another effective treatment option.
- Do not take eucalyptus oil orally.
5. Salt Water
Salt water can effectively clear your throat for a short period of time by reducing stuffiness, preventing nasal drip, and removing mucus from the nose.
- Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a cup of distilled water. If you have to use tap water, boil it first to sterilize it and then let it cool down.
- Using a rubber syringe with no needle, squirt the solution into your nose and let it run into the back of your throat, and then spit it out into the sink.
- This should help clear your nasal pathways, which will reduce the buildup of mucus in your throat.
- Repeat as symptoms persist.
- Make sure to keep the syringe sterile by washing it with soap and water after using it. Replace your saline solution every few days.
6. Honey and Lemon
Honey and lemon both have antibacterial properties that can help soothe the throat and remove phlegm, mucus, and other bacteria. Try adding a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey to a glass of ice water or tea.
7. Chicken Soup
According to a study, warm homemade chicken soup can also help clear phlegm from your throat. It will help moisturize the airways and thin the consistency of the mucus. It will also induce relaxation and soothe an irritated throat.
- Have some chicken soup at least twice a day to clear mucus from your throat.
- You can also add ginger and garlic to the soup for increased benefits.
8. Spicy Foods
Spicy foods can sometimes result in mucus loosening. This can make it easier to remove via blowing your nose, coughing, and sneezing. Chile, peppers, wasabi, horseradish, and other spicy foods can help clear your throat of mucus.
Medical Solutions to Clear Your Throat
You can also use medical solutions to clear your throat more effectively. Take the meds as directed on the container. If you’re concerned about over-the-counter medication interacting with any prescription meds you’re on, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
1. Mucus-Thinning Medication
Mucus thinning medications like guaifenesin (Mucinex) can help reduce phlegm that causes throat irritation and coughing. If you’re trying to clear your throat, look for such medications at your local supermarket or pharmacy.
2. Saline Sprays
Saline sprays and nasal drips tend to be effective in clearing out phlegm and other irritants that cause throat irritation. They can be purchased over-the-counter at your local drug store.
Foods to Avoid When Dealing with Phlegm
While there are many home remedies that can be used to clear your throat, a few things should be avoided in order to decrease phlegm production.
- Try avoiding dairy products as they trigger the secretion of mucus in the body.
- Avoid meals rich in salt and oil.
- Chocolates and refined sugars should be avoided. Restrict the intake of artificial sweetening.
- Soy products should also be avoided because they may increase the production of phlegm.
- If you have ongoing issues (more than seven days) with mucus or congestion, then you may have a sinus or chest infection.
- If you are coughing up a yellow or green colored mucus, seek medical advice.