Coughing up Green Mucus-Causes, Treatment


Coughing up green mucus or green phlegm is an indication that there is pus accumulation inside the respiratory passage. Phlegm, mucus, sputum or post-nasal drip are terms for slim secretions that is produced due to coughing from throat. The consistency of phlegm can vary from being watery to thick and jelly-like. Though white or pale yellow mucus is normal thing, there can be other mucus color like green mucus which can allude to certain health issues.

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Due to infection, the phlegm can change to yellow, pink, brown, red or green due to bacteria which is trapped in the throat or due to body’s response to viral infection. Coughing up green mucus is caused due to the heme cluster in the iron enzyme myeloperoxidase, which is produced by white blood cells as an immunity defense to cytotoxins during oxidative burst. Respiratory burst or oxidative burst means release of reactive oxygen (hydrogen peroxide and superoxide radical) from various cells in the body. Green mucus means that the body is attacked by either bacteria or virus.

Green mucus symptoms

Green mucus symptoms

Green phlegm or mucus can be a symptom of

1. Bronchitis

2. Nasal Polyps

3. Sinusitis

4. Allergic Reaction

5. Cold or Flu

Green phlegm is produced in the nasal membranes, the bronchi, the sinus or the lungs.

Mucus Discharge Information

Mucus helps to moisten the air that passes through the nose and airways, and prevents the tissues from getting dried. It helps to trap foreign particles, dust, dirt and microbial organisms that enter the nose. The mucus protects the lungs and other respiratory organs. Coughing up mucus is the body’s reflex defensive action to expel these trapped organisms out of the body.

Coughing up Green Mucus Causes

Mucus normally is white in color. But when there is pus in it, it can mean there is some illness and the color is an indication. Find out more about mucus color

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If the sinus cavities are weak or if there is illness, cold, cough, fever; the mucus accumulates and then becomes a haven for bacteria. The mucus that is clear becomes thicker and then changes color to yellow. In some cases, it can become green colored as well. Green phlegm means it is either a viral or a bacterial infection. Doctors in most cases, believe that coughing up green mucus means bacterial infection in the respiratory tract, the lungs or bronchi which may be tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, bacterial pneumonia etc. Green cough can also happen due to post nasal drip due to a sinus infection.

Sinus infection and green mucus

Sinus infection and green mucus starts with an allergic reaction to ‘triggers’ like dust, smoke, pollens, chemicals in the air etc. The sinus membranes, upper respiratory tract and the nasal cavity can become inflamed, leading to viral invasion. This develops into sinus infection which is characterized first by clear mucus, then thick pale or dark yellow mucus. Green mucus happens when this condition remains for a prolonged period, without treatment; indicating that bacteria have entered the system.

Coughing up green mucus can be due to the phlegm that is produced in the lungs. If the green phlegm is accompanied by fever or chest pain, it is an indication that is a bacterial infection, which can be treated by antibiotics only. If it is just coughing up green mucus, as in green snot, it can be common cold, allergic rhinitis, upper respiratory infection or sinusitis.

Coughing up green mucus (phlegm) treatment

1 The first thing is to ensure that you are able to cough up phlegm easily. You can try home remedies like drinking mint tea that contains eucalyptus or menthol. The warm drink can make the mucus thin and the menthol can help the lungs breathe easily. Gargle with salt andhot water, this will expel the mucus that is stuck to the upper throat. Breathing in steam from hot water can help in removing mucus. Doctors can prescribe gargle germicide like Betadine to expel mucus and clear the throat.

2. The best treatment for coughing up green mucus or any other colored one is to diagnose the condition because it can be an underlying symptom of symptom. So if you are expelling cough of various colors, the first thing is to get urgent medical attention. You may have to go through some tests like Complete Blood Count, sputum examination, Chest X-Ray, CT, ECG etc. This will help the doctor find out what really causes green phlegm. He or she may then give you some expectorants and mucolytics, while working on the treatment to eliminate the cause of green mucus.

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