What Does It Mean When You Cough Yellow Phlegm?

Yellow Phlegm

Phlegm or mucus plays an important role in keeping your throat and chest lubricated.

Mucus is generally clear and transparent. But sometimes you may notice a change in the color of mucus to yellow or green. So what does it mean when you cough yellow phlegm?

Yellow or green phlegm is a sign of bacterial infection. The color change is from blood cell enzymes when it is fighting with bacteria.

There are many causes for yellow mucus. The severity of these causes ranges from allergies to cancer. There are some useful home remedies for yellow phlegm, but you need to figure out underlying causes.

Let’s see the common causes, home solutions, and lifestyle changes that can help treat yellow phlegm.

What Causes Yellow Phlegm?

Bacterial or viral infections cause yellow phlegm. Here are some more causes of it:

1. Flu or Cold

There are more than 200 types of viruses that cause flu and colds. One of the common symptoms of the flu or cold is clear to yellow phlegm. The body over produces mucus to get rid of the viruses.

2. Allergies

Yellow phlegm can also be a common symptom of allergies. Change in the color of mucus is a way of driving away the allergens from the body. Some individuals are allergic to animal skin dander or pollens. Exposure to these allergens can cause a cough and phlegm.

3. Sinus Infection

A sinus infection is also called sinusitis. Bacteria, allergies, and viruses cause a sinus infection. The blockage of the sinuses due to a bacterial infection will lead to green or yellow mucus, post nasal drip, or sinus pressure (1).

4. Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an infection of the throat. It starts as a dry cough and progresses to a cough with white or clear phlegm. The mucus turns yellow within a few days. Yellow phlegm is a sign that the viral infection has turned to a bacterial one.

In bronchitis, the cough can last up to 90 days. Other symptoms include a fever and sore throat. The inhalation of steamy air can ease the symptoms of bronchitis. You can add few drops of eucalyptus oil to the steam for faster relief.

5. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection that causes the lungs to get filled with pus or liquid (2). Coughing mucus that is green or yellow and accompanied by drops of blood is a common symptom of pneumonia. Other symptoms of pneumonia include chills, cough, fever, or shortness of breath.

6. Asthma

People suffering from asthma experience constant coughing fits leading to yellow phlegm. Inflammation of the respiratory system causes asthma.

The inflamed cells in the body create the yellow phlegm. Other symptoms of asthma include:

7. Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the more severe health issue which requires immediate medical attention. A cough that lasts more than two weeks along with a persistent chest pain accompanying the cough is a sign of lung cancer.

Another sign of lung cancer is a pinkish colored mucus or spotting of blood in the mucus.

Coughing Up Yellow Mucus with Blood, What does it Mean?

The blood may come from digestive system or respiratory tract, which is made of the lungs, mouth, nose, passage ways to lungs, and throat.

Yellow mucus with blood is a sign that it is a serious underlying medical condition. There are also minor issues that could cause spotting of blood in mucus.

If a person is producing more blood than mucus, that is a sign of immediate medical attention. There are ways to prevent yellow phlegm with blood if it’s not due to a serious medical condition.

Here are two ways to prevent it:

  • Drink lots of water: Hydration thins the mucus and flushes it out of the body.
  • Prevent inhalation of dust and dander by keeping the residence clean.
  • Make sure the house is also void of mildew and mold because these are known to cause respiratory issues.

Natural Remedies to Treat Yellow Phlegm Problem

Yellow phlegm tends to be more thick and sticky than white or clear mucus.

To get rid of phlegm you need to thin out the mucus, so it can exit the body easier. There are home remedies to get rid of the yellow mucus.

1. Hydration

Drinking enough fluids helps the mucus flow. Hydration also breaks up congestion that blocks the passageways of mucus.

Hydration is not limited to water. Other fluids which you can drink include clear broth, chicken soup, or juice. Another ideal choice is adding lemon juice or slices of lemon to water. The acid in lemon helps disintegrate the congestion.

2. Steam

Steam can help alleviate issues with yellow phlegm. Some methods include holding head over a steaming pot or hot showers. The steam liquefies the mucus.

3. Humidifier

Humidifiers can help maintain thin mucus because of the moisture it produces. The moisture effect almost has the same results as steam. Therefore, the mucus stays consistently light. The difference between steam and humidity is steam can burn the inside of the body.

Humidifiers are safe to use all day. Keep in mind to change the water in the humidifier on a regular basis.

4. Nasal Irrigation

Nasal irrigation is when someone uses a device to flush out the nasal passage. Neti pot is a tool that is often used with nasal irrigations. The saline solution, when squirted up the nose, thins the mucus and makes it easier to get rid of.

5. Spicy Foods

People who like spicy food are in luck because the spices help with phlegm. The role spicy foods play is it melts the mucus and loosens the lungs. Spicy foods trigger coughing and runny nose. It helps expel the mucus.

6. Salt Water Gargle

Salt water gargles are an ideal method to get rid of phlegm in the throat or mouth. To make the gargle, mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water. Tilt your head back and gargle with the salt solution. It may take a few gargles to break up the phlegm.

Lifestyle Changes to Treat Yellow Phlegm

If you’re experiencing yellow phlegm problem, there are a few

There are a few precautions you need to take when you experience yellow phlegm problem. These precautions help slow down the buildup of phlegm or prevent it from reappearing:

  • People who smoke should stop smoking immediately.
  • Yellow phlegm back-up often happens in the morning. Do not swallow yellow phlegm. It contains dead viruses and bacteria.
  • Avoid mucus producing foods such as dairy, alcohol and some types of fruits.
  • Avoid taking cough suppressants. It can cause a backup of yellow phlegm in the body. Coughing is a mechanism used to get rid of phlegm. It is best to take an expectorant to induce coughing.
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Irene Entila

Irene is a health and fitness consultant based out of Albuquerque, NM. She was a personal trainer during the years of 2010-2013. She holds a Bachelors of Liberal Arts with a focus on creative writing from The Evergreen State College. She obtained her personal trainer license through Seattle Central College in 2010. Irene has been an athlete since childhood. She currently train and compete in ultra-marathon running and jiu jitsu. She started health writing in 2009 as a hobby through her personal blog. She believes that people can seek help from a trainer or trained profession to reach fitness and health goals. Though, people can learn a lot about them and promote self-sufficiency if they had affordable resources. By 2010, Irene started contributing to several health websites while completing her personal trainer certification and training for marathons. She saw how certain health variables affected her training and wanted to share this information with the public. Since then, Irene has written various articles about health and fitness featured on different magazines.