Causes and Treatments of Coughing up White Mucus


There are many reasons why you may cough up white mucus at some point. Often, colds, sinusitis or the flu are responsible for these symptoms. While it may be gross to check out, the color of your mucus can actually help you determine the cause.

The color is not enough to know for sure what is going on in your body though. You will have to consider your other symptoms to figure out the exact cause for sure. On the bright side, coughing up white mucus is actually a good sign. It means that your body is trying to capture and remove pathogens in your body to get rid of your illness. Depending on the cause, you may be able to use home remedies to treat your condition. In some cases, you may have to go to your doctor to be professionally treated.

The Causes of Coughing up White Mucus

1. Bronchitis

Bronchitis is a common condition. It is generally the result of a viral infection, but it can also be due to an illness or exposure to tobacco and other irritants. It causes your airway to become inflamed and leads to cold-like symptoms. You may experience a sore throat, fatigue or a runny nose. When you have bronchitis, your mucus may initially look white. Over time, it may change to yellow or green. This is because inflammatory cells are now going through your airway and coloring the sputum that is released. If you have mucus that includes blood, go to the doctor. You should also go to the doctor if you have coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath for two or three weeks. If you have problems breathing, go to the doctor right away.

2. Tonsil Stones

Tonsil stones occur when bacteria, waste and food build up around your tonsils. They develop in the folds of your tonsils and end up becoming compacted like a stone. They are essentially held together by mucus, and you may not experience any symptoms. If you do experience symptoms, it may be coughing up white chunks, pain in your ears or a sore throat. If your condition is left untreated, you may have increased mucus production because your throat and mouth are overly dry.

3. Sinusitis

Commonly known as a sinus infection, sinusitis is essentially a more intense version of a common cold. If you have sinusitis, you may experience nasal condition, pressure on your face, a fever, pain in jaw or teeth, fatigue or white mucus discharge. The mucus discharge can also be yellow or green. Children with this condition may experience persistent nasal discharge, vomiting, coughing and gagging on the mucus.

4. Allergies

Allergies are a common reason for white mucus. The inflammation and irritation causes excess mucus production because your body is trying to remove all of the allergens.

5. Common Cold

The average adult catches a cold two to four times a year. Children may catch a cold up to 10 times in an average year. The cold is remarkably prevalent, and there are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold. Once you have a cold. You may experience watery eyes, sneezing and a sore throat. When mucus starts, it may initially be clear before turning creamy, white and thick. Do not panic if the mucus changes color during your cold though because this is quite normal.

6. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastric acid is pushed into your lower esophagus when you have GERD and causes heartburn. Some sufferers also experience a thick, white mucus.

7. Gustatory Rhinitis

This condition is connected to eating. When you eat hot peppers, it causes your nose to run. If you drink milk or eat dairy, it can cause your body to produce increased levels of mucus.

8. Smoking

Smoking is an extremely common reason for coughing up white mucus. When you inhale smoke, your body processes it as an irritant or toxin. It irritates your vocal chords and leads to inflammation, dryness and swelling. Your body creates white phlegm to trap the irritant and to hydrate your larynx. As a result, you may develop a “smoker’s cough” and white mucus.

9. Vocal Abuse

If you have over-taxed your vocal chords, your body may try to produce excess mucus as a way to lubricate your throat. You may also experience coughing and throat irritation.

10. Other Potential Reasons

If you use an excessive amount of nasal sprays, it can cause white mucus to be produced. Head trauma and cold weather can also cause it. Likewise, a foreign object or something similar in your nasal cavity can lead to increased mucus production.

Coughing up

Treatments of Coughing Up White Mucus

1. Steam

A hot shower or a steam room are amazing for clearing your sinuses. If you get in a steam room, try adding eucalyptus oil to help thin the mucus and soothe your throat. If you do not have a steam room handy, a hot shower should do the trick.

2. Foods and Herbs

Spicy food and bell peppers are natural expectorants. They thin the mucus so that you can cough it out easier. Licorice is another natural expectorant. Garlic can be consumed because of its antifungal, antibiotic and expectorant properties. Try gargling warm water with a small spoon of myrrh to kill the infection and soothe your throat. A blend of ginger and honey in a cup of tea can help to fight infection, remove excessive mucus and soothe your throat.

3. Keep Coughing

Your body is coughing for a reason: it is your body’s natural way to remove viruses and bacteria that it does not want to have inside of you. Try spitting out the mucus to keep it from being swallowed by your body again.

4. Use Salt Water

Boil three cups of water with four tablespoons of salt. Once the solution has cooled, use it to gargle up to four times a day. This will help bring the mucus out of your body while soothing your throat.

5. Drink Water

Drinking plenty of fluids will help to thin your mucus. If you are tired of water, try herbal tea, fruit juice or soup instead.

6. Cough Syrup

Over-the-counter cough syrup can help to thin your mucus and help you cough everything out.


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