Coughing Up Black Mucus

Coughing Up Black MucusIf you’re coughing up black mucus, there’s a good chance you’re alarmed. Any kind of discoloration in your body fluids is quite rightly something you should see a doctor about. The good news is that coughing up the black stuff might look frightening but it’s rarely a very serious cause for concern.

The mucus in your throat is actually a very good thing. It does a very important job. Your respiratory system needs to be kept moist and the mucus provides a covering that does just that. It also ensures the area is kept supple to it can expand and contract as your breathing dictates. The covering also helps to prevent against things such as inflammation, irritation, infections, bacteria and viruses, and more. There are also said to be very powerful enzymes present which can help fight back against illnesses, giving you a preventative approach.

It is not the mucus itself that causes the coughing but the inflammation and irritation in your respiratory system. Usually, the throat becomes inflamed which brings on a coughing fit, and the pressure you exert on your body when you cough forces out the mucus, taking the bad stuff (bacteria, etc.) away from your body as it does so. This will happen when you are suffering with an illness such as flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis and other lung infections, and even just the common cold. It is your body’s natural way of trying to fight back against the bad viruses or bacteria that shouldn’t be there.

If you’re coughing up black mucus, there are a few common reasons why:

Dark Foods

This happens a lot in young children but if you cough after eating a dark-colored food such as chocolate or licorice, there is likely to be still some of the coloration from the food in the mucus covering. When you cough or sneeze it up, some of the food comes back up with it.

Dirt & Dust 

If you are in a very dusty place, you could inhale a lot of that dust and the mucus does what it does best – it catches it to then expel it from your body and make sure it doesn’t cause your body any further harm.

This dust and dirt can also irritate the throat, airways and lungs depending on what compounds it’s made up of, which can induce this coughing fit that results in black mucus.

If you have worked in the attic, or in other dusty or particularly dirty places, and you start coughing up black mucus, it’s just a sign that your body is doing what it needs to do to stop you from getting sick.

Environmental Factors

As well as dirt and dust, people who work with high smoke levels can suffer with coughing up black mucus. Firefighters, for example, are people who save the public from fires which of course, cause smoke. This smoke can easily and quickly turn your mucus black, and the smoke will also inflame and irritate the throat and airways to cause fits of coughing.

Smoking 

Smoking does a lot of negative thing to your body and as well as filling your lungs with toxic chemicals which can cause cancer, tar and other poisonous compounds are present which cause a number of problems with your respiratory system.



The black color of the mucus coughed up is said to be down to the aluminum content. According to studies, the qualities of aluminum are high in regular cigarette smoke and also marijuana smoke. Other drugs can also cause this black color including cocaine.

Infections 

There are a few medical condition which can cause black mucus when coughing and this can be made worse if you have been in dirty, dusty or smoky conditions also.

Pneumonia can cause black phlegm and mucus as can sinusitis, and even rare, fungal infections such as aspergillosis and mucormycosis. As a general rule, the latter two are rare and serious cases and will happen in those only with a dysfunctional or under-working immune system.

Foreign Bodies 

Again, something that commonly happens in young children, a foreign body inserted into the nose or mouth can cause black mucus. If the foreign body is left in the nose or mouth, it can get lodged in nooks and crannies along the airways, eroding or causing infections which then go on to cause a drainage of black mucus and other fluids.

A foreign could be something as simple as a toy or even as complex as a fly or other small insect.

How to Treat Coughing Up Black Mucus

There are a number of ways in which you can treat black mucus. If you are a smoker, you should quit or at the very least, take active steps to slow down and eventually quit. Smoking does your body no good at all.



If you drink more water, you may find that it encourages more mucus production and when this happens, you’ll be more likely to cough or sneeze it out, expelling the black waste and phlegm with it.

Face masks should always be used in dirty, dusty or smoky conditions to prevent inhalation as much as possible, and if you believe you have an infection, fungal or otherwise, you should seek medical advice. This will generally be when you start to feel otherwise unwell – you have a severe cough with a sore throat, fever-like symptoms, aches and pains, exhaustion, etc.

*image source: David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net

43 COMMENTS

  1. I decided to quit smoking over the past 3 months and lately I’ve been coughing out black mucus (normally after my morning jog) and some wheezing. My doctor gave me some prescribed medication and even suggested some home remedies. I sometimes experience some chest inflammation, is that normal?

    • It is possible that your body is removing these chemicals, such as tar. Your experiences often shared by people who quit using these products. Continue to not use tobacco. Monitor your experiences. If you find that they are decreasing, then you may feel comfortable that your body is healing. Have a great day, Phale!

  2. Hello, I have been staying with my husband in the hospital or the hospital dorm for the past week. The hospital is in a city. I have zero symptoms of anything except the black tinged mucus in my nose and some that comes from my throat. This morning I woke and there was a black dust on the outside of my nostrils.

    • Continue to speak with the doctors. They will be able to give you the information that you are seeking. If they release you, then it is likely that your medical condition will clear up. If you are experiencing these conditions only after you went into the city, then you may want to specifically address your concerns with the doctors. Best of luck, Meghan!

  3. Hello! I’m concerned about my cough and congestion. It’s been going on for months with real bad chest pain. I cough up chunks of dark,and sometimes even slightly bloody, phlegm. I seen the doc twice and she gave me two different allergy medicine that aren’t helping at all ! I did get a X-ray that was fine. But I’m still concerned because I’m also having shortness of breathe, swollen painfull veins, weakness, soreness, and horrible back pain! and I’m really just sick all the time!!! And I’m so sick of being sick and the doctors don’t tell me nothing! I do smoke marijuana so could that be the cause of this?

    • You may need to go back to your doctor. If you have horrible back pain and shortness of breath, it could be an indication of an ongoing infection, asthma or another problem. You should make another appointment with your doctor to see what is going wrong. The marijuana probably is not helping your condition, although it probably not the sole cause unless you smoke a lot of marijuana. It’d be best to stop using, but at least switch to edibles for a while to see if it helps your lungs out.

    • Not to be a Debbie-Downer, but lung cancer will not show up on a chest x-ray until it is too progressed to help. If you think you may have lung cancer you need a CT Scan or MRI. How long have you smoked weed? I’m 35 and just got diagnosed with asthma & COPD 🙁 I smoked cigs and weed for 16 years. I spent a week in the hospital every month for 6 months straight last year due to not being able to breath. It was terrifying. Waking up unable to breath, calling an ambulance. But I don’t have cancer…yet. You could have asthma or even COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
      I’d do what the admin above suggested and get edibles or a vaporizer. Stop smoking anything before it gets to the stage I was at. It’s not worth it. Hard to explain what it’s like to constantly be unable to breath. It’s something that’s just done. You never think about it. Until suddenly you’re suffocating and desperately trying to draw air into your lungs and you can’t. Never been so uncomfortably scared in my life.

  4. Black sputum seems to just force its way out of my throat and mouth a couple times a week, it always happens after my shower at night time? This has been going on for about a year. I’m not really sure what it is as I’ve never smoked, drank or used drugs?

    • The heat and steam from the shower may be helping the mucus come up, but you would need to go to the doctor to figure out the exact cause. There are a number of colds, infections and medical conditions that could cause this condition, so you should just make an appointment with your doctor to be checked out.

    • I am suffering black caugh continue six months above ……I have take many medicine from hospitals but no improvement…. plss tell me how can I prevent this diseases…

      • Talk to your doctor. You mentioned that you took medicine for it before–you may need to return to the doctor for medicine or ask about alternatives if the medicine did not work. Whatever the case, your general practitioner can help you determine the cause and treat it.

  5. I smoke marijuana medically for anxiety and depression. I also have extreme anemia which I receive infusion treatments for. I’ve been coughing up a black/gray and sometimes brown mucus but more black than anything. I’ve cut back on smoking as much as I can, I’ve even stopped smoking concentrates all together. I know my immune system isn’t up to par because of my severe anemia, how likely is it the black mucus is a sign of infection?

    • It could be due to an infection. There are several different infections that could cause this symptom though, so your best bet would be to go to your doctor to get diagnosed for sure. You should also stop smoking until you are better–perhaps an edible option would be better.

    • wow what type of doctor gives you marijuana for anxeity and depssion i have that they dont give me marijuana lol

      • Different states have different laws. Some doctors have different experiences than other medical professionals. Have a great day, Ervin!

    • With Med comes the business of edibles… we wait eagerly for the med to happen in ALL 50 States. So we can stop smoking…and use all the other methods. MY FIBRO …they now have a CBD oil patch…I cannot get shipped to me!.. totally WRONG.

      • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Feel free to share more of your ideas in the future. Have a great day, Jamdeeder!

  6. i am kindof wierded out. im coughing black stuff only when i wake up then as the day goes by my coughing is reduced to sneezing. i am always shivering n i feel tired after a few hours of being awake. i am no drinker or smoker n i am 20

    • If you are coughing, sneezing and shivering throughout the day, then you need to make an appointment with a medical professional at this time. Continue to monitor your experiences so you can better answer your doctor’s questions. Best of luck, David!

    • If you live in an area with a lot of pollution, then that may be a reason why you are coughing up black substances. If you smoke any substance, then stop smoking. The smoke is damaging to your lungs and you will find that you will continue coughing. If you do not live in a polluted area or smoke, then speak with a doctor. Best of luck, Lee!

  7. I smoke marijuana about three times a day and for at least the past few years and when I cough, I expel black mucus. The majority of the time I just expel white or yellow phlegm bUT when I have a coughing fit or when I eat a meal or drink excess water, I expel the black mucus and sometimes it’s a lot? Any suggestions? Really want to avoid the doctor.

    • Stop using marijuana for a few weeks. The chemicals in marijuana may not be causing this. However the smoke from the marijuana is certainly the blame for your mucus. This mucus can eventually cause major problems in your respiratory system. You do not want this to happen. If you like using marijuana, then you may want to try edibles. They may be safer for human consumption. Good luck, Rich!

  8. I’m a beer drinker 3 big bottles per day and some cigarettes for last 10 years last one year I can feel a enlarged thing under the left rib cage,I had flu last 4 days ago and I stopped taking cool beer and took un cool beer and lot of flem were coming out now some black coloured farm is coming out once in while.

    • It seems like you may have commented twice on this article. I have to answer and approve each comment individually, so it may take me a little bit to get around to all of them. If you do not see a response right away, do not worry because you will. Read through my last response and let me know if you need any more help.

  9. I’m a beer drinker 3 big bottles per day and some cigarettes for last 10 years last one year I can feel a enlarged thing under the left rib cage,I had flu last 4 days ago and I stopped taking cool beer and took un cool beer and lot of flem were coming out now some black coloured farm is coming out once in while.

    • The mucus color could be due to the illness or the cigarette smoking. I am concerned about the enlarged spot on your rib cage. It could just be an enlarged lymph node because of the illness, but it is important that you go to a doctor to be checked out. Drinking and smoking both increase your chances of developing certain diseases, so you need to be checked out by your doctor.

  10. Hi
    I had take tuberculosis treatment of six months and during treatment I gave up smoking and now i m cured but still I have black sputum and burning sensation in my chest
    Pls help me

    • You should speak with a medical professional. Your doctor should be able to answer your questions and give you the proper tests. The black sputum may go away by itself, but it is likely just residue from years of smoking. Best of luck, Pankaj!

  11. Hello I do have the same problem black mucus for me is really stressing because I don’t smoke or drink alcohol I just drink water does anyone knows the answer I’m starting to think that I’m having cancer I don’t know what else should I think

    • Pollution may also cause this. There are unknown reasons as well for black mucous. Continue to monitor your body and your experiences. If you determine that you want to speak with a medical professional, then do so. Remain positive as you move forward. Best of luck, Shkelzen!

  12. I am 12 weeks pregnant and I began to feel my throat getting very sore today. This evening I’ve vomited. Figured it was just the pregnancy. But what concerns me most is when I cough and sneeze, black comes out in the mucus. I also feel quite achy but that could be the pregnancy as well.

    • It is probably not from the pregnancy. It sounds like you have caught a cold at a very unlucky time. Go to your doctor and get diagnosed. It may just be a cold, but you need to make sure that it will not impact the health of your baby in any way. Stay safe and good luck, Alexis!

  13. My husband was sick with strep 2 weeks ago and now he’s not sick anymore but he keeps complaining of his lung hurting on the left side and coughing up little black (looks like cigarette ashes) in his mucous…. he’s worried and scared something is wrong and thinks he has cancer please let me know what it could be.

    • If he continues to cough up black mucous, then it would be wise of him to speak with a medical professional. It is possible that he is coughing up old blood. However, it is always wise to make appointments when you are concerned. Both you and him should continue to monitor his experiences. If pain or intense coughing continues, then make that appointment. Best of luck, Tasha!

  14. Directly across street the apt. Im staying in, a demolition
    took place 3 days ago & the wind blew in the dirty dust.
    My symptoms are coughing, feverish, headache & black,
    grayish, mucous. Never experienced this before. Coukd that be the cause?

    • It is likely that your cough and symptoms are stemming from the dust that you breathed in. It is likely that you should not be concerned, though it would be wise for you to take care of your lungs. If you have the time to get out of the city and walk through nature, then you might want to do that. If problems continue, then make an appointment with a medical professional. Remain positive and mindful, Jen!

  15. quit marijuana three months ago and still coughing up A LOT of black tinged mucus- I also have compromised immune system from 25 years of cancer treatments- should I ask my pcp to order sputum culture?

    • You should look into any treatments that are you interested in looking into. I do not know your situation and medical history and I don’t think it is wise to advise you to order anything. Keep note of the changes that you are experiencing and perhaps create a journal. This will help you to answer any questions that your doctor may have in the future.

    • Thank you for your story and insight. Lung tar can remain in your body for a long time. There may still be more in there, so remain positive as you move forward.

  16. I have Sarcoidosis and have been coughing up black phlem for weeks now . I smoke a 1/2 a pick.a day. Thank you for this info

    • Thank you for your comment. It would be best to immediately stop smoking. There are many remedies to help you stop smoking. Gum can be helpful in addition to any actions that you will take. If you find yourself fiddling with your hands, then perhaps take up a manual hobby.

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