What Is the Best Way to Get Rid of Phlegm in the Throat?

Oral antihistamines may help reduce phelgm in the throat.
Coughing may help to expel phlegm.
Tea with lemon can help reduce phlegm, while tea with honey soothes the throat by coating it.
A crossection of the human head, including the throat.
Article Details
  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 30 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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The best way to get rid of phlegm in the throat is drinking enough fluids to thin it out. Phlegm can be caused by post nasal drip, sinus infection, or a cold. When mucus production is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are sometimes warranted. When the infection and resultant mucus has been alleviated, the phlegm will generally go away.

Phlegm in the throat tends to be thick and can cause constant throat clearing and sometimes coughing. Drinking plenty of water thins out the mucus, making it easier to cough up and expel. Similarly, medications that are known as expectorants can also help reduce phlegm because they also have the ability to thin out secretions and make them easier to get rid of. Drinking milk can promote phlegm production in the throat, and people who are prone to the condition might consider reducing their consumption.

Sinus conditions can cause post nasal drip and mucus in the throat as well. Antihistamine medications dry up secretions, not only in the nose but in the throat as well. Phlegm in the throat is often reduced after taking antihistamines; however, these drugs can cause drowsiness and dry mouth. In addition, taking antihistamines can cause urinary retention and nosebleeds. Some people notice that instead of feeling drowsy after taking antihistamines, they feel anxious and experience a rapid heartbeat.

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Drinking tea and lemon can decrease phlegm in the throat, and help ease a sore throat as well. Honey added to tea can help soothe inflamed throat tissues by coating the throat, but can worsen the feeling of phlegm. People who experience acid reflux often feel like they have excess phlegm or mucus in their throats too. Taking an acid-reducing medication can decrease acid production and alleviate this sensation in the throat.

Sometimes, sleeping with a vaporizer in the bedroom can improve sinus conditions and post nasal drip, thereby eliminating mucus formation. Unless the vaporizer is meticulously cleaned in-between uses, bacteria can build up and contaminate the air with infection causing droplets. This can lead to a sinus or bacterial infection, which can promote mucus formation in the throat and lead to persistent coughing. Rarely, mucus in the throat can become so thick that it hinders breathing. In these cases, a medical professional needs to be notified to determine the cause, and implement a treatment plan to reduce symptoms.

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Discuss this Article

anon358821
Post 14

Thumbs up to a neti pot. Definitely try it - and try to minimize your reliance on medicine to get through this. A neti pot does wonders and is completely natural and healthy.

anon304369
Post 13

Phlegm is a common name for mucous. Mucous is the bodies protective covering.

Adequate hydration: One-third your body weight in ounces. (a 200-pound person would drink 66 ounces a day as a starting point). No dairy. Eating dairy creates mucus in humans. No bananas. This fruit is mucus forming.

anon300359
Post 12

@MrMoody: That depends on the type of lifestyle you lead. Athletes simply cannot afford to cut down on protein, and alternative sources generally contain large amounts of "unwanteds." You mentioned nuts; those have more fat than protein, for example.

NathanG
Post 11

@MrMoody - That may be okay for most people, but if you have a sinus infection you will still have phlegm in the throat.

It’s not like your body is going to get rid of the mucous completely. You still need mucous for its usefulness as a filter in your nasal passages and so forth.

So if a sinus infection acts up, whatever phlegm you do have will come gurgling up again. The best thing to do is to take a medication for your infection as the article suggests. Do this on top of diet if you must, but don’t think diet alone is your answer. That’s my take anyway.

MrMoody
Post 10

I may be off the beaten path here, but I have another suggestion for how to get rid of phlegm in your throat. Change your diet.

I say that because phlegm is essentially mucous and mucous is formed by protein. If you change your diet so that you consume more fruits, vegetables and drink a lot of water, you will immediately reduce the amount of mucous production and consequently the amount of phlegm in your throat.

You can still get the protein that you need from nuts and seeds. You don’t have to be a total vegetarian to reduce the mucous production.

SarahSon
Post 9

I seem to have more problems with a dry throat than I do phlegm in my throat. Our house gets so dry in the winter and I have a dry cough most of the winter.

Not only is my throat dry, but my hands, lips and all of my skin gets dry. We have a humidifier running in the bedroom to get some extra moisture in the air. This helps some, but doesn't completely take care of the problem.

Once winter is over and there is more moisture and humidity in the air, my dry throat and cough goes away.

julies
Post 8

I have the most problems with phlegm in my throat when I have a bad cold. When it gets really bad, I usually take a sick day because I don't think my co-workers want to listen to me cough up phlegm all day long.

Sometimes it kind of grosses me out, so I can imagine how they might feel if they had to listen to me all day.

When I am home those days, I really try to pamper myself and get better in a hurry. I lay around with my head propped up and suck on soothing lozenges throughout the day.

I try to drink plenty of fluids but sometimes that isn't very easy to do. Drinking hot liquids is usually easier than anything.

Something as simple as some hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice and honey is the best remedy I have found.

ddljohn
Post 7

What the article mentioned about acid reflux is so true! The only time I get phlegm stuck in my throat is when I eat acidic foods and have acid reflux. It's like everything builds up in my throat, it's so bothersome.

I realized though that when I take antacids, the phlegm goes away. So maybe phlegm has a lot to do with out eating habits and the type of food we have. Now when I feel like something is going to give me acid, I rush for liquid antacid.

fify
Post 6

@seag47-- Have you ever used a neti-pot?

I use this whenever I have sinuses and my entire nose and throat area is filled with phlegm. It's basically a little pot for nasal irrigation. I put warm water in it and pour it into one side of my nose and the water runs through and comes out from the other side.

It sounds a little scary but as soon as you get used to using it, it's really simple. It helps tremendously for sinus based phlegm and throat mucus. It literally washes it out and helps with breathing problems and headaches too.

You can get it from the pharmacy if you want to try it.

discographer
Post 5

OeKc05-- I had a cold recently too and had a lot of phlegm build up afterward. I drank a lot of hot herbal teas, especially with cinnamon and ginger. If you don't have an allergy to these, you should try it. Cinnamon and ginger have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects so they soothe the throat and help clear phlegm too.

The other thing I did was mix sea salt in warm water and gargle with it twice a day. It does wonders for clearing up phlegm. And of course stay away from milk products. Even when I don't have a cold or sinuses, I get phlegm in my throat after eating milk or yogurt at night. It makes me cough and keeps me up.

shell4life
Post 4

I suffer from allergies year round, so I have had a lot of trouble with phlegm in my throat. I have tried a variety of antihistamines, and though most worked to lessen the phlegm, they caused other problems.

A couple of kinds made me so sleepy and dull that I could not function at work or at home. After a couple of experiences with these, I learned to take them only right before bed.

Another kind seemed to speed up my heart and even made it skip beats. This seemed dangerous, so I quit taking these.

I finally settled on one that is supposed to work for 24 hours. I take one a day, and that is all I need. It dries up the phlegm, and I feel like a normal human being again.

Perdido
Post 3

@OeKc05 – You could try throat numbing sprays. These are made for people with sore throats, and they help you swallow without the pain.

The only downside to this is that it will numb any part of your mouth that it touches, so you could wind up with a numb tongue as well. However, you should be able to down plenty of water before it wears off.

Another thing you could try is ibuprofen. It will reduce the inflammation for about four hours, and you should be able to thin out the excessive phlegm in your throat during that time with water.

I have tried both methods, and I prefer ibuprofen. It reduces the swelling just enough for me to drink without extreme pain.

OeKc05
Post 2

I know that you are supposed to drink plenty of water when you have a bacterial infection or cold, but that is so hard to do when your throat is sore. It hurts to swallow, and every sip is agony, so it seems like the worst possible time to be drinking more.

So, I try to come up with ways to alleviate my sore throat. I have heard that eating ice cream is soothing, and this is true. However, it seems to make the phlegm collect there even more.

Honey is also soothing, but it does the same thing. This is such a problem, because anything I can think of to soothe my throat and enable me to drink enough water to clear out the phlegm and get better actually causes phlegm! Does anyone know a way I can make swallowing easier without increasing the phlegm in the back of my throat?

seag47
Post 1

I seem to have constant phlegm in my throat during a cold. Though usually antihistamines would help clear this up, they do nothing when I am actually sick.

I gargle with warm water, and this helps clear out the phlegm for a short time. Drinking hot tea also helps, as long as I don't put much sugar in it. I like lemon echinacea tea for this.

At night, I elevate my head upon two fluffy pillows. This seems to keep me from waking up choking on phlegm, which I do when lying flat. I think it helps the phlegm flow down my throat, rather than getting stuck there and affecting my breathing.

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