Throat mucus, or phlegm, can be a result of allergies or a sore throat, but there are numerous reasons for throat mucus, revealing what is going on inside your body. Even when you are healthy, your body is constantly producing mucus – in fact, up to 1.5 liters a day. Most of the time, this mucus drips down the back of your throat without you noticing. But during times of illness, that mucus can clog your throat.
Your body doesn’t necessarily produce more mucus when you’re sick, but the consistency of the mucus changes so you begin to notice it. There are many factors that can change the consistency of mucus, like allergies or milk consumption for some people. Here, we are going to outline some of the many causes of mucus in the throat, so you can identify what’s going on in your body.
Causes of mucus in throat
If you’re wondering what causes mucus in your throat, well, here are 19 causes:
This is when mucus travels from the back of the nose down the throat. If post-nasal drip occurs after a meal, it could be a result of an allergy, sinusitis, or vasomotor rhinitis.
Cold or flu:
Mucus thickens when an infection is in the body, like a cold or flu. Changes in mucus color can signal a cold or flu as well.
Congestion, coughing, and sneezing are common during pregnancy along with other morning sickness symptoms. Estrogen is to blame for mucus in throat during pregnancy.
Something you’re allergic to can change your mucus levels, but the use of antihistamines or the removal of the allergen will make it go away.
This occurs when the voice box and windpipe widen as a result of a virus.
This is a rare, life-threatening condition caused by a viral infection.
Inflammation of the larynx caused by a virus.
Inflammation of the pharynx caused by a bacterial infection.
Lung inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infection.
Inflammation of the sinuses due to either a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.
Inflammation of the tonsils caused by an infection.
Serious infection of the lungs and other organs.
Strep throat, mononucleosis, smoking, air pollution, chemical inhalants, and anxiety.
Related: Thick saliva in throat causes and home remedies
Symptoms that can occur with throat mucus
You may also experience other accompanying symptoms depending on the cause of the mucus in throat. Oftentimes, mucus in throat is a result of a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. The symptoms may include fever, chills, congestion, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, headache, and difficulty breathing.
Symptoms of throat mucus alone are phlegm, throat congestion, shortness of breath, and coughing out mucus and phlegm.
Foods that relieve or cause throat mucus
Nutrition can play a role in throat mucus, too. Some foods can actually contribute to throat mucus and other foods can help relieve it. Although every person is different and may have their own unique triggers, here are some of the common foods to avoid with mucus in the throat, and foods to enjoy as they can help reduce mucus.
Foods that cause excessive mucus production:
- Dairy products like milk, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese
- High-fat red meat and processed meat
- Gluten products – especially in people with a gluten allergy
- Caffeine – particularly the variety found in soda
- Fruits and vegetables, like bananas, cabbage, and potatoes
Foods that relieve mucus:
- Fruits and vegetables like garlic, celery, onions, parsley, winter squash, berries, oranges, greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and peppers
- Chicken soup
- Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, lake trout, and herring
- Olive oil
Mucus in throat every morning
If you wake up each day with mucus in throat, which you feel needs to be expelled, there are a few different reasons for that. For starters, mucus in throat in the morning could be a result of an infection or allergy, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or it could be a sign of congestive heart failure.
Congestive heart failure, in particular, can cause daily mucus in throat each morning, because the heart has a difficult time moving high amounts of blood through the body, causing fluid buildup. This fluid accumulates in the lungs, especially when a person is laying flat throughout the night. The result is a wet cough in the morning or throughout the night.
Mucus in throat after eating
There are many reasons a person may experience mucus in throat after eating, including food allergies, post-nasal drip, medication side effects, chronic rhinitis, laryngopharyngeal reflux, being a heavy smoker, and viral or bacterial infections.
In order to reduce mucus in throat after a meal, increase your fluid intake to help loosen up mucus, inhale steam after your meal, avoid foods you’re allergic to, gargle lukewarm water with salt, drink herbal tea after the meal, and stop smoking or begin to cut back.
Related: How to get rid of cough?
When mucus in throat can become a serious issue?
The color of your mucus in throat is a strong indicator of how severe the health problem is. Generally, thin and clear is the safest, and other colors could indicate a particular infection. Here are some guidelines to know when mucus in throat is a serious issue.
Thin and clear: Sign of cold or allergies, it could also be a sign of medication side effect or a reaction to certain food.
Thick and colored: If mucus is very thick, it could be a sign of dryness, which can be caused by heating systems. If mucus appears green, yellow, or brownish, it could indicate a bacterial infection.
Rattling sound in chest: If mucus is dripping down to your chest, it may be difficult to swallow and may cause a “rattling” sound, which may be pointing to pneumonia.
Burning sensation: If mucus is burning, it could be a result of a heartburn or GERD.
Paying attention to your mucus can help offer insights into your overall health and give you indications on how to treat the mucus.
How to get rid of mucus in throat: Lifestyle changes and natural home remedies
Here are some lifestyle changes and natural home remedies to get rid of mucus in throat.
- Use a Neti pot, which can help flush out mucus. Saline or distilled water is usually used to help rinse out the nasal passages. Insert the Neti pot through one nostril and tilt your head over the sink to allow the solution run through and out. Essentially, you are irrigating the nasal passages to remove germs and irritants.
- Apply warm compresses to your face to relieve pain from sinus pressure.
- Sleep with your head elevated to prevent mucus buildup.
- Use a humidifier in your home to prevent dryness.
- Boil water and cover your head with a towel to inhale the steam.
- Avoid irritants – quit smoking and avoid smoke, stay indoors during high allergen times, ensure your home and workplace are kept tidy, and wear a mask if you need to clean.
- Protect your sinuses from temperature changes by covering your face during colder temperatures.
- Blow your nose carefully – only blow one nostril at a time, don’t blow too hard, use clean materials only.
- Use over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, decongestants, medicated nasal sprays, and saline nasal sprays.
- Drink plenty of water, especially warm water and tea.
- Try a hot toddy: mix hot water, a shot of whiskey, fresh lemon, and honey. Some research suggests that this beverage can help relieve congestion.
- Drink herbal tea, not only can it help break up mucus, but you can inhale the steam, too.
These lifestyle changes and natural remedies can help get rid of mucus in throat and have you feeling better almost instantly.