Coughing up White Phlegm

Phlegm is mucus expelled out through cough. It is also known as sputum. Lining of respiratory passage contains mucus to keep it moist and also to trap dust and microbes. As air passes through respiratory tract, it has a drying effect on tract, but mucus moisturises it. Mucus traps dust and microbes and is expelled out, so it prevents these unwanted particles from entering the lungs and damaging it.

White phlegm in cough is a sign of various inflammatory diseases, caused due to allergy, trauma or infection.

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Chemical composition of phlegm

Phlegm is the secretion in airways during disease and inflammation. It usually contains mucus with bacteria or virus, debris and sloughed off inflammatory cells. Once phlegm is expelled out through cough, it becomes sputum.

White phlegm

Phlegm is of different colours. From the colour and density of phlegm and symptoms associated with it, disease associated with it is diagnosed. White phlegm during coughing is the most common. It indicates that there is no pus and blood in it.

Causes of coughing up white phlegm

girl coughing

Common cold

Common cold is caused by virus. Its symptoms are sneezing, white phlegm discharge, sore throat and watery eyes.


Sinus is a viral disease. It happens mostly in winter, when cold and flu viruses are present. Nasal passage gets congested, discharge of white phlegm, fever may occur, ear pain and pain in jaw and teeth. There is also pressure on the facial area due to excessive coughing.


It is caused due to irritants or virus. Inflammation of bronchi occurs. It sometimes affects person suffering from common cold, influenza or other respiratory infection occurring from virus. Its symptoms are breathlessness, wheezing, low grade fever, runny nose, itchy throat, hoarseness and cough with white phlegm. It should be consulted to doctor. Acute bronchitis is caused by irritating gases. It resembles bronchitis caused by virus, but in this case, fever does not occur. Addicted smokers with chronic bronchitis discharge white phlegm in cough. Cigarette smoking and other such smoking products should be strictly prohibited to prevent from acute lung damage.


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Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs, when fluid from stomach again flows back into oesophagus. Irritation in throat occurs and white phlegm comes out with cough. There is also chest pain, sore throat and feeling of solid particles in throat. It is a very uncomfortable condition, so soon its treatment should be done.


It is a chronic disease leading to coughing out white phlegm. In this condition, bronchi and bronchioles gets inflamed and swollen. It leads to severe breathing troubles. It is mainly caused by allergic reactions.


Milk or other thick drinks causes thickening of clear mucus. Milk and other dairy products should be avoided during throat infection.

Remedies for coughing up white phlegm

Cough it out:

Phlegm should be coughed out. It should not be taken inside the body as it can cause severe lung damage and may cause innumerable lung diseases.

Inhalation of steam:

Steam of boiling water should be inhaled. Leaves of eucalyptus in boiling water are also very useful. Steam makes the phlegm thin and also it soothes the throat.

Drinking cough syrup:

Cough syrup is a good medicine to get rid of cough and phlegm. It is the fastest method which cures many respiratory disorders. Different types of syrups are available for children and adult.

Corticosteroids for acute asthmatic condition should be taken.

Home remedial measures for treatment of phlegm

Water herbal tea and soup keeps the body hydrated. It makes the mucous thin and even shortens infection time. Food rich in vitamin C such as amla, orange juice are highly useful for treatment of cough with phlegm.

Chewing of Tulsi leaves or drinking tulsi tea works wonders in cough. Bell peppers make the mucus thin. It should be taken daily with meal. Gargling with warm water mixed with salt helps to bring phlegm to upper part of throat which can easily be coughed out. Gargling also soothes the throat.  Do it thrice or four times, a day.

Add myrrh to warm water. Gargle with it and then swallow the substance. Myrrh helps to expel out the phlegm and decrease infection. Garlic helps to cough out mucus and phlegm. It has both antibacterial and antifungal properties. 2 to 3 garlic and cloves should be eaten daily throughout the infection. Licorice tea ease pain soothes throat and helps to expel mucus. Peppermint and honey added to licorice tea is more useful. Honey and ginger should also be taken. Ginger helps to expel out phlegm and fight infection due to presence of oleoresins in it. Honey brings soothing effect in throat. Fresh ginger and honey should be blended together and should be slowly chewed and swallowed.

Phlegm should be coughed out of the body. Presence of phlegm is the indication that person is suffering from a medical condition, the serious of which depends upon colour and texture of phlegm.

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