Out, demons! (Spitting tips requested.)
November 28, 2005 1:21 PM   Subscribe

To all men and women who spit: help! Warning, this is a bit unappetizing...

I have lately been waking up with what feels like a huge lump of phlegm in the back of my throat, and I can't manage to get it out. It persists throughout most of the day, receding a little bit by the time I fall asleep, only to return again the next morning. I'm not sick, not stuffed up (although I do have a bit of sneezing in the morning due to minor allergies). I try to do that clearing-the-throat-and-spitting thing that I see and hear men do all the time, but I just can't seem to do it myself. When I try, either I gag, or it just won't budge. I tried taking a bunch of expectorant to see if that would loosen it up, but it didn't work. So, I was wondering: have you experienced such yuckyness and if so, what caused it? And more importantly, how can I successfully get it out? Spitting tips requested!
posted by rio to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's an oldie but a goodie: try gargling with salt water. Warm if possible.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:23 PM on November 28, 2005

Once again, the wiki triumphs. For you, and for everyone who's ever needed to know about hocking a loogie...
posted by jasper411 at 1:56 PM on November 28, 2005

jasper411 - I read that, but I guess my actual problem is the part where they say "Before a loogie is ready to be spit from the mouth, a sufficiently sized ball of phlegm must be broken loose from the back of the throat. This is done via a violent vibration of the glottis, producing a low, guttural, rumbling sound." I haven't been able to do this.

I will try the warm salt water though--thanks pinkstainlesstail, I hadn't thought of that!

Funny side note--when I googled this, I got "how to spit wine" and "how to spit shine your shoes" hits, two skills I also don't have...
posted by rio at 2:03 PM on November 28, 2005

Are you sure it's phlegm and not a growth of some sort??
posted by tristeza at 2:13 PM on November 28, 2005

acid reflux can cause a sensation that something is stuck in your throat. have you had any stomach problems recently?
posted by clarahamster at 2:19 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Hmmm, how to teach someone how to violently vibrate their glottis??? As I'm sitting here trying it, it's actually kind of like gargling, just with the back of the tongue placed a little differently. If you can gargle, maybe the combination of the vibration and the warm water will help lubricate things down there. Good luck!

I was going to ask for a follow-up, but maybe not...
posted by jasper411 at 2:19 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

It could also be an extreme case of tonsil stones?
posted by wackybrit at 2:31 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Learn German, then say "Ach!" a lot. If French is the "language of love" then German is the "language of loogies".
posted by TimeFactor at 2:33 PM on November 28, 2005

It's possible that it's not phlegm and is rather an infection. If it starts getting itchy, it adds the possibility that you've mildy injured something in the area (and it's now healing).

If it is phlegm, take hot steamy showers - that sometimes helps me loosen stubborn mucous.

Otherwise, have you tried making yourself sneeze?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:42 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

I think your problem might not be learning how to spit, but rather getting rid of the chronic phlegm.

I think drinking more water would help a whole bunch, as well as making sure you're aware of everything you're allergic to. I also think you might want to see a doctor, to rule out growths and tonsil stones and other things we may not know about.
posted by Specklet at 2:44 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

I had this for a little more than a month and have just been getting over it. You can thin your nasal discharge and thus reduce your post-nasal drip symptoms by taking Guaifenesin. This is a relatively safe non-prescription drug, although it is usually combined with pseudoephedrine. It's an active ingredient in Robitussin and in Entex La.

Drink lots of water, avoid caffeine and take guaifenesin. Blow your nose; don't snort-and-swallow. Suck on cough drops to keep well-lubricated. This too shall pass.

Thick post-nasal drip is endemic this time of year when everyone starts to turn on their furnaces and the air quality at home and at work gets very dry. Odds are that it isn't any kind of growth, but if it persists for longer than you're comfortable with, see a doctor.

Oh: you might also want to thoroughly wash both your linens and your blankets, and clean your carpets. If you're having a dust mite problem you will often get the same symptoms.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:10 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

I had something similar a couple of years ago, to the extent that it started to get hard to breathe. I was adviced to give up caffeine and take some pills for acid reflux. I'm not convinced it really was acid reflux but I did get better.
posted by edlundart at 3:43 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

I say infection. The doctor may be able to help. Two things that help me: (1) respiratory targeted antibiotics, and/or (2) Nasacort (up-the-nose cortisone). Happy hawking!
posted by GarageWine at 4:07 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

You may want to try limiting your dairy intake - you may be having a mild reaction to it which will increase the thickness of your phlegm, making it harder to break up.
posted by blackkar at 4:53 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Oh yea, I know the feeling. I second: salt water gargle and hot showers.

Lemon water, tea and other very mildly acidic drinks also help clear that up. But it's maintenence and not a cure. Another thing that helped me was Mexican candy. Lucas, which is basically lemon salt and the suckers that have chili pepper and salt.

BTW, it's probably not phlegm that your feeling, it's more likely irritated and slightly swollen tissue in your throat. Forgive the question, but, do you snore? That might be the cause.
posted by snsranch at 5:43 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Another cause of throat irritation, especially as the weather gets colder, is dry air. You might try sleeping with a humidifier on.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:08 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Could be caused by snoring or leaving your mouth open a lot during the night.

If it doesn't go away then maybe its more an inflammation than something you can spit out.

Might not be a bad idea to get a sleep study.
posted by [this is good] at 11:42 PM on December 1, 2005

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