It’s not unusual for people to suffer from an excess amount of mucus or phlegm being produced by the body.
Some people might believe that the two terms are interchangeable, but mucus is a normal, healthy bodily secretion produced to help lubricate different body systems including the digestive, reproductive and respiratory system.
Phlegm is similar but is a secretion that is present in the body during times of illness and inflammation. In answer to the question what is phlegm, it is a mixture of mucus, debris, bacteria and dead inflammatory cells.
Those people who suffer from a mucus cough will actually be coughing up phlegm rather than mucus, and when it has been coughed up out of the body it is known as sputum.
Reasons for excess phlegm
The body can cause the production of excess amounts of phlegm for a number of reasons:
Smoking – the vocal cords are dried out through cigarette smoking and this causes them to become swollen and inflamed. Phlegm will then be produced by the body to ease the drying effects of smoking.
Vocal abuse. People who shout, yell or talk loudly for long periods of time can damage their vocal cords. Shouting and screaming can cause inflammation to the vocal cords as can singing incorrectly. Once the vocal cords are inflamed, more phlegm will be produced. Similarly, repeated clearing of the throat to remove or loosen phlegm can actually irritate the vocal cords and make the problem worse by producing more phlegm.
Illness – If you have a cold or flu, you will get an increased production of phlegm in order to remove bacteria or virus particles from the body.
Allergies – respiratory conditions like hay fever or asthma often cause the inflammation of the inner lining of the bronchioles. The body produces phlegm to soothe this inflammation, but the phlegm then congests the airways.
If you find that you are producing an excess amount of phlegm and don’t know why this might be, you should book seek medical advice.