Sputum or phlegm refers to the mucus found in the lungs. It is a typical symptom of long-term lung conditions such as cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, NTM lung disease, asthma, and COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
In healthy airways, oxygenated air flows smoothly through tubes with the assistance of microscopic hairs called cilia that line the airways. Because mucus retains irritants in your airways and aids in your body's ability to eliminate them through coughing, it plays a critical role in your lungs' immunological response.
You'll be more immune to illness as a result. Mucus that builds up in your airways can worsen breathing and raise your risk of infection, all of which can worsen lung damage. This is more than simply an unpleasant annoyance.
Chronic mucus is a bothersome and painful condition. Coughing, wheezing, and other symptoms might be brought on by it, depending on the reason and degree.
Goblet cells create mucus. The mucous membranes of the body include these cells.
The mucus has a crucial function. It holds dust, allergens, and bacteria in place. These are removed from your lower respiratory tract by coughing. A failure to cough up the excess may occasionally be the cause. Weakness in the muscles of the throat or lungs may cause this. This may also result from cilia damage. The hair-like structures called cilia force mucus up and out of your lungs.
Excess mucus can be brought on by several things:
If you have a persistent chronic cough or an increase in the quantity or thickness of mucus, consult a doctor. Your doctor will question you extensively about your cough and the amount of mucus. Additionally, you could be required to submit a sputum sample. This is the easiest technique to use to determine if your excessive mucus is due to a bacterial or viral infection.
Simply cough up roughly a teaspoon of mucus into a clean cup to offer this sample. The sample is subsequently delivered to a lab for examination.
Consider speaking with your healthcare physician for a complete diagnosis and a treatment program if excessive mucus production starts to occur frequently and causes discomfort. Your doctor could suggest drugs like:
Over-the-counter drugs: Guaifenesin (Mucinex, Robitussin), an expectorant, may thin and loosen mucus so it can drain from your neck and chest.
Medicines on prescription: Mucus thinners known as mucolytics are inhaled using a nebulizer and include dornase alfa (Pulmozyme) and hypertonic saline (Nebusal). Your doctor will probably recommend antibiotics if a bacterial infection is the cause of your excessive mucus.
Your body continuously produces mucus. A small illness that you should let run its course is frequently the cause of excessive mucus production in your throat.
Excess mucus can occasionally be a symptom of a more serious ailment, though. Consult a physician if any of the following apply: