What Cause Phlegm In The Morning

  • 1st Revision: Shajrat Mir

What is phlegm?

Phlegm may be defined as a certain type of mucus that is produced by the respiratory system, specifically lungs and throat  and does not originate from the nasal passage. . Sometimes phlegm and nasal mucus are mistaken for one another, but they are not the same thing.

One of the most crucial defense mechanisms of the human body is the procedure of collecting particles and detritus from nasal passage and its removal by the respiratory apparatus . To move the mucus in the direction of the throat, the cilia in the airway beat in a wave-like fashion. The mucus is ingested and processed once it reaches the throat.1

Mucus that is healthy and normal is clear and contains proteins, antibodies, salt, and water. Your body produces roughly 1.5 quarts of it each day to protect your nasal passages.

Your nose may be particularly runny and have clear mucus when a cold or other viral infection is present in early stages or while having allergic rhinitis or due to non-allergic rhinitis, which is particularly prevalent during pregnancy.

Mucus occurs in various colours2 and we will take a look on each type here:

White mucus is frequently linked to a cold or another type of ailment that makes the nose congested. When you have a cold, the swelling in your nose restricts the flow of snot and causes it to dry up. It becomes thick and hazy as a result.

Yellow mucus indicates a healthy course of sickness. You may have allergies if your mucus is yellow. Moreover, yellow mucus's texture is probably drier and thicker  compared to white mucus.There is no immediate cause for alarm if your mucus is green. But if, after approximately 12 days, you're still feeling unwell, you could have a bacterial infection and may require antibiotics.

Pink or Red mucus indicates that there is blood in the nose. This may be brought on by blowing/rubbing your nose often, dry nasal passages  caused by dry weather,any other diseases, and even pregnancy.

Brown mucus could develop if dried blood gets included. If you breathe in  foreign material, your mucus may also become brown or orange.

Black mucus is uncommon and if noticed you should seek medical attention immediately . It frequently indicates the need for treatment for the fungal infection.

When do I usually get phlegm? 

Upper respiratory tract infections frequently cause excess mucus production as one of their symptoms. Typically, these ailments will also result in fever, runny nose, and painful throat.

Certain irritants like smoke and other pollutants, might irritate the airway when exposed to them. A cough with too much phlegm may result from this condition.

A post nasal drip, which happens as a result of excessive mucus production that spills down the neck, can also occur in some people with allergies . A person may cough up phlegm as a result of this.

The presence of an excessive amount of phlegm and a continuous cough are symptoms of some lung disorders, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and even heart failure.

What causes phlegm in the morning?

The body uses coughing as a way to expel and remove irritants from the respiratory system. Phlegm in the morning is a frequent medical symptom that can be brought on by a variety of factors,3 including:

  • Cold: Most individuals get affected by the common cold around two to three times a year on average. Sometimes excessive amounts of phlegm from stagnation during the night will make you feel uneasy with symptoms like a sore throat, exhaustion, lethargy, headache, sneezing, and runny nose in the morning
  • Respiratory tract infections: In  addition to the symptoms felt due to common cold; you may also have fever, weariness, wheezing, chest tightness, stuffy nose, and stomach discomfort
  • Allergies and post nasal drip: Runny nose, stuffy nose, dry cough, headache, watery eyes, stork sound, and breathing difficulties are just a few of the symptoms and  can get worse in the morning since dust mites frequently reside in blankets, pillows, and mattresses
  • Asthma: sputum or dry coughing, the stork sound, exhaustion, and shortness of breath and chest tightness
  • Bronchitis: Acute conditions are caused due to infections of the respiratory system with bacteria or viruses. Chronic conditions are caused by smoking. Symptoms include a cough that produces a lot of phlegm  especially in the morning, a sense of heaviness or wheezing in the chest, a low-grade fever, or chills
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease that is caused due to smoking for a long span of time. The major symptoms include a cough that produces phlegm and difficulties breathing. Additional symptoms include frequent weariness , chest tightness, and the sound of storks

Is it common to have phlegm in the morning?

As already discussed, morning phlegm and cough are uncommon and can result from a number of underlying causes. Coughs are a useful diagnostic tool for a variety of medical disorders. Finding out what causes coughs, including morning coughs, might 

help in diagnosing the  type of  disease  and thus help in deciding the specific  treatment as soon as possible. It is important to note the frequency, type, characteristics, and any additional symptoms that accompany the cough because they can be seen in a variety of illnesses. The doctor will be able to deliver the best care with the use of this information.

How can I get over phlegm in the morning? 

Drink more water: Increase your water intake. Take into account your medications and any routinely used dehydrating liquids, such as coffee, alcohol, and some teas.

Utilize a humidifier: This may aid in reducing mucus and phlegm production while also hydrating your nasal and throat passages.

Use a saline nasal spray: This aids in rinsing and hydrating sinus and nasal tissue. Use a sodium chloride-containing sterile spray.

Salt water to gargle: By removing mucus, salt water (one teaspoon of salt per glass of warm water) helps soothe an itchy throat.

Utilize over-the-counter drugs: Decongestants, whether taken orally or applied topically, can help your nose feel less swollen. Mucus can be thinned by expectorants like Mucinex®.


Several issues can arise from coughing, including:

  • Sleep interruption
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Syncope

When To Seek Medical Attention

If your cough doesn't go away after a few weeks or if it also includes any of the following, call your doctor right away:4

  • Coughing out a lot of thick, green phlegm
  • Wheezing
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Swollen ankles
  • Losing weight


Phlegm and other types of mucus, particularly in the morning, can occur simultaneously. Phlegm can also cause issues and it could be challenging to cough out mucus if you have an infection and the mucus becomes thick. Your respiration may be affected if this happens. Most of these conditions  can be cured easily. Early intervention may significantly enhance results even when a major underlying medical condition is present. You should see a 

doctor if they have a persistent cough. Health care specialists can assist in evaluating symptoms, doing tests to identify the underlying cause of the cough, and making treatment recommendations.

The underlying reason for your cough will determine the best course of action. There is no treatment for respiratory infections or the typical cold. Getting lots of sleep will speed up your body's ability to battle the infection. Decongestants can aid with post nasal drip, while cough suppressants can help you control the urge to cough. 


  1. Fahy, John V., and Burton F. Dickey. “Airway Mucus Function and Dysfunction.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 363, no. 23, Dec. 2010, pp. 2233–47. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMra0910061.
  2. What mucus color says about your health [Internet]. Verywell Health. [cited 2022 Dec 1]. Available from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-does-it-mean-when-i-have-green-or-yellow-mucus-4019063
  3. Causes of phlegm cough in the morning [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 1]. Available from: https://www.vinmec.com/en/news/health-news/general-health-check/causes-of-phlegm-cough-in-the-morning/
  4. Cough When to see a doctor [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 2022 Dec 1]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/cough/basics/definition/sym-20050846
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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