How can I get rid of this mucus from throat?
October 7, 2009 8:07 AM   Subscribe

My throat has been having a lot phlegm. I'm a singer and I don't know if it has to do with any dairy products I'm consuming. I haven't had a cold for several months so I'm not sure how to get rid of this problem? Any suggestions?
posted by InterestedInKnowing to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The connection between dairy products and phlegm is a myth.


Don't confuse correlation and causation. Perhaps you have a sinus infection.
posted by dfriedman at 8:10 AM on October 7, 2009

I personally have a problem with this myself at this time of year, largely because the weather is going haywire and my sinuses go screwy as a result as well -- which leads to post-nasal drip overnight, which settles in my chest. Bleagh.

I've found that sleeping with a humidifier cuts down on this a lot, but I'm marking this to see other suggestions.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 AM on October 7, 2009

Don't confuse correlation and causation.

Let me explain this more: just because you have an increase in phlegm at the same time that you have been drinking dairy products, doesn't mean that drinking dairy products causes phlegm to increase. The increase in phlegm can, and most likely is, caused by something else, like, say, a sinus infection, or allergies.
posted by dfriedman at 8:15 AM on October 7, 2009

Response by poster: It's funny because it's not in my chest at all. I don't cough but it's settling right above in my throat. Only the throat. Maybe it's a post nasal drip but when I have that, I always have a cold that comes with it. I havent been sick at all.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 8:19 AM on October 7, 2009

I know a couple of opera singers who swear by neti pots and alkalol. Even gargling with plain old Listerine every morning should help.
posted by aquafortis at 8:19 AM on October 7, 2009

I don't cough but it's settling right above in my throat. Only the throat. Maybe it's a post nasal drip but when I have that, I always have a cold that comes with it. I havent been sick at all.

This sounds exactly like what I get -- and I haven't always been thus. I didn't start having sinus issues until just a couple years ago.

Aging an an accumulation of exposure to whatever allergens are in your area can just cause things to build up to a point when your body finally starts reacting, I think.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:44 AM on October 7, 2009

my voice teacher suggested guaifenesin, at least for the short term problem.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:44 AM on October 7, 2009

I started using a Neti pot on a consistent daily basis a few weeks ago and have had a drastic reduction in phelgm. I had been having large amounts of phelgm due to sinus drainage for a long time - now it's only about 5% of what it was before I started using the Neti pot.
posted by tdismukes at 8:46 AM on October 7, 2009

Seconding neti pots. I am a guy that has seasonal allergies (& an issue with snoring) that are all taken care of (symptom wise anyway) with a daily visit to my glorious neti friend.

Most likely the congestion in your throat is coming from your sinuses. Neti pots flush out sinus congestion & should help your issue.
posted by rdurbin at 8:48 AM on October 7, 2009

not sure where you live, but this is a common thing in the fall for me, due to allergies. I get post nasal drip, and then I get a slight sore or swollen throat from it, but not much else.

This is just me, but I usually just throw and OTC allergy med at it (one that ends in -D) for a few weeks.
posted by smalls at 8:48 AM on October 7, 2009

Friends have had success with local honey to reduce allergies/phlegm (get from a local farmer's market, make sure it was produced in the area, have a tbsp a day to tea, similar or eat plain).
posted by ejaned8 at 8:51 AM on October 7, 2009

It sounds like low-level allergies to me, too. You can get allergy tests at a doctor's office, or you can pick up some Claritin and see if it helps.

If you want to investigate further, you don't say how long you've been having this problem. Does it coincide with any changes in your life? New cat, new diet, new apartment, spending more time inside, spending more time outside? Is it worse when you wake up, when you get home from work, or after you've been at home for a while?

When was the last time you changed any applicable air filters? When was the last time you bought new pillows, washed your duvet and duvet cover, or washed your existing pillows (in hot water if possible)? Have you given your home a thorough dusting recently? Did your carpet get really wet a few months ago, and possibly never dried properly? Do you have a HEPA vacuum cleaner bag, that won't blow allergens out every time you vacuum?

(I'm just brainstorming, obviously, not looking for actual answers.)
posted by ErikaB at 11:59 AM on October 7, 2009

I am going to suggest a possible, weird, way to "treat" this problem. Sorry for the long post:

I have had, for many years, a similar problem. One of my main symptoms would be throat-clearing ... a lot of throat clearing. My friends teased me about it, but I always thought it was normal, or that that's just the way I was.

When it became worse and developed into a chronic cough, I went to a specialist who put me on an odd diet, and gave me some allergy meds and Prilosec.

Within 30 days, I had stopped coughing and stopped clearing my throat all the time. I don't feel mucus in my throat; I don't have to spit up a small bit of mucus now and then, as had been happening. When I went back to the doctor, he took me off the allergy meds to see if things changed.

Seven months later, I still have not been clearing my throat a lot (unless I cheat on my diet), nor have I developed a cough. Previously, this cough / mucus in my throat was a *constant* thing. It's such a relief.

Anyway, the "diet" I am on is really just the avoidance of several things -- I must avoid:

-dairy products of any kind
-deep-fried food
-citrus fruits
-alcoholic drinks
-tomato ( a bit of spaghetti sauce now and then is ok)
(there are other forbidden foods but I can't remember them right now)

Additionally, I must eat four cups (not servings, cups) of fruits each day, and four cups of vegetables each day, preferably fresh. Since there are a lot of fruits / vegetables I am allergic to, this has been hard to do, but I've been doing it and I can't say enough about how good I feel now. Also, I must not eat anything for two hours before going to bed.

The doctor theorized that what was happening was my previous diet, which was high in fat, was causing my stomach to produce mucus, which while sleeping, would "bubble up" through my esophagus into my mouth, and a bit would make its way into my lungs, where the bacteria in it would take up residence, causing an infection -- hence the cough.

I can't provide any real science or understanding of this, but I do know that it has helped. Immensely and in so many ways: I now know that rice milk is a pretty darn good substitute for the "real thing" and I don't get a stomach-ache from it. I now prefer fresh vegetables when it's mealtime. I can no longer stand most prepared food, as it's much too salty-tasting. I've lost 20 pounds (could stand to lose 20 more) and have never felt better.
posted by dwbrant at 12:02 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

dwbrant mentioned Prilosec which is for acid reflux. It is possible to have reflux in your throat. An ENT will be able to diagnose this.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 12:17 PM on October 7, 2009

Mucinex will thin out the mucus and make it easier for your body to process it away. Just make sure you drink a bunch of water when taking Mucinex as whatever it does to work seems to dehydrate the hell out of me.
posted by COD at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2009

I've been getting this for the last year or so. I went to the ENT and he put me on some antacids and some nose spray. I also gave up caffeine. It has helped some, but some days it just seems to come back with a vengeance. Now I'm totally paranoid about it happening at in opportune times. That only seems to trigger and make the throat clearing worse. I've found myself in situations, basically being unable to speak because of my throat.
posted by corpse at 1:56 PM on October 7, 2009

For those get get a little phlegmy or dry mouth before public speaking/singing - I've been told to drink some Lemon or Lime Sparkling water and it has helped in the past.

No, Sprite is not the same thing and may be counter productive (not to take away from how awesome Sprite is).
posted by unclezeb at 9:44 AM on October 8, 2009

Response by poster: I find all these answers extremely helpful so I'm marking it resolved. Thanks guys!
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 7:25 AM on October 9, 2009

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