Coughing Up Green Phlegm, Yellow, White, with Blood


Coughing up phlegm could be an indicator of infection. It can be severe but it could also be just a minor one. Let us know about the various types of phlegm, the color and what it signifies.

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What is Phlegm?

Phlegm is a watery to thick and viscous or jelly like substance that can be clear, green, pink, red or yellow in color depending on the illness of the individual. It usually accumulates in huge amounts on the linings of an individual’s trachea or the windpipe, due to factors such as bacteria or dust, resulting to a blockade of the respiratory passages. This would cause an irritation to these linings thus stimulating the respiratory passages in the process, which in turn causing one to cough and expel the mucus. Coughing up phlegm is a good thing, it would mean that the foreign substance inside the system is caught by the mucus and expelled by our reflex through coughing.

Mucus Color Meaning

When coughing up phlegm, it is very important to be very keen and take notice of the color of the phlegm that is being coughed out. This is usually an indicator of a simple harmless colds or a symptom of a grave disease. Below are the different colors of phlegm one could expel and what they signify:

• Coughing up Clear thin phlegm

this means that there is no pus or blood in the mucus. It could be caused by a common viral infection like colds or could also be known as acute viral bronchitis. The clear white phlegm signifies that our body is attempting to block the incoming invading virus and is being expelled with the mucus or phlegm. Former smokers with chronic bronchitis also cough out clear, white phlegm. This type of phlegm can be treated without the needs for antibiotics.

• Coughing up Thick white phlegm

– Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD often cause thick white mucus. This happens when the gastric acid goes back up to the esophagus then into the windpipe and throat. This results in irritation and causes an individual to cough up white frothy mucus. Another harmless cause of thick white mucus is the drinking of milk and other thick drinks.

• Coughing up Green phlegm

Green phlegm signifies the presence of pus. Pus is a group of white blood cells mixed with bacteria. This is caused by the bacteria invading the lungs or the bronchi. Green phlegm would usually indicate serious respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis, acute bacterial bronchitis, tuberculosis, bacterial pneumonia or cystic fibrosis.

•Coughing up Yellow phlegm

Yellow mucus signifies the presence of inflammatory cells such as leukocytes. This would indicate an inflammation of the respiratory tract that signifies infection or asthma. Thicker yellow phlegm on the other hand signifies either a viral or bacterial infection. It is a common symptom for acute or chronic bronchitis and bacterial pneumonia.

Coughing up Pink phlegm

Pink mucus or phlegm is common for asthmatic patients. It has eosinophils which is a type of white blood cells. They are attached to the bronchial wall and these cause the phlegm to be pink.

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Coughing up Red to brown phlegm

Coughing up phlegm that has red or brown spots would mean that there is blood in the mucus. This is caused by too much smoking or inhaling excessive air pollution. This is also an indicator of a serious lung infection, one of which is tuberculosis, or it could even be as grave as lung cancer. One should immediately seek medical attention when coughing up phlegm that is red or brown.

How to Expel Phlegm Easily

Coughing up phlegm can be hard. When the phlegm gets thicker, it is harder for it to be expelled. It could also be painful to cough out. Here are some suggestions for you to try out in order for you to cough out phlegm with more ease:

• Boil water in a pan and add eucalyptus or menthol or any minty ingredient into the water. After a few minutes, lower down one’s nose near the pan just enough for you to deeply inhale the mixture into your nostrils.

• Drink hot tea. Minty tea containing menthol or eucalyptus is advisable. The warm drink allows the mucus to thin down and the menthol allows the chest to feel light.

• Keep your chest warm. Ways to do this would include placing a warm vessel or a heating pad on your chest occasionally. If you are already coughing up phlegm, it is recommended that you place a hot towel around your neck to give relief to the pain.

• Capsicums, often found in spicy foods, can also help thin out mucus. Eating this can indeed help an individual cough out phlegm more easily.

• Gargle with a mixture of hot water and salt. The mucus on the upper throat will be expelled and the mixture gives temporary relief for your throat.

• Regularly take a hot bath and while doing so, breathe in deep the steam from the water.

• For smokers, it would be advisable to stop smoking because this causes phlegm to gather up in the bronchi, and would result to a difficult expulsion of phlegm.

Treatment for Coughing up Phlegm

Making coughing up phlegm easier is already a step in the treatment. However, some phlegm signifies a more serious disease. Coughing up phlegm that is colored green, yellow, pink, or red is just a mere symptom of a more serious respiratory disease. When you expel these kinds of phlegm, the most important thing to do is to seek medical attention. You will have to undergo certain examinations like a chest x-ray, blood tests, sputum examination, ECG and CT exam. Those examinations would help the physician determine the main illness that’s causing the phlegm. The physician would then prescribe expectorants and mucolytics to help break up mucus or phlegm resulting to an easier expulsion of the phlegm.

Coughing up phlegm is a common occurrence one can experience in his lifetime. However, it is important to take actions to remedy it right away because sometimes, the more serious diseases can appear as simple as coughing up phlegm. It is important to be sure and to take action while things are still manageable.

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