Why Do I Always Have Phlegm In My Throat

About phlegm

Phlegm, also called sputum, is the thick slimy secretion produced specifically in the mucous membrane. Phlegm is accumulated mucus primarily consisting of saliva, nasal secretion, and sometimes acid secretions due to acid reflux from the stomach.1,2

The lungs naturally produce phlegm daily to help our bodies eliminate microbes or irritants that cause inflammation. Additionally, phlegm works to filter dust, viruses, allergens, and pollutants and also filters and lubricates our respiratory system. The phlegm produced by a healthy person is thin and transparent, while that produced by a sick person is thick and elastic.1,3 You notice this mucus in your oesophagus or down in your chest. 

When there is an overproduction of mucus, your body clears it in many ways, including mucociliary clearance (MCC) and coughing it up.4 The colour of your phlegm may vary on different occasions and for various reasons.5

  Causes of phlegm

When you have so much phlegm in your throat, causing you to clear your throat frequently, it means that your body is overproducing phlegm and is not able to effectively clear mucus as it should, and several factors, such as:

  • Post nasal drip or sinusitis - the air pocket of the face around the eyes and nose (sinus) is irritated.
  • Infections like the common cold
  • An allergy
  • Nasal polyps
  • Pollutant or smoke exposure
  • Acid reflux
  • Diseases of the lungs, as listed by the American Lung Association, ranging from asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis to pneumonia.
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Lifestyle and environmental causes like not drinking enough fluids, drinking too many fluids, dry or cold air, smoking, and certain medications.
  • Genetic factors 

How does it feel to have phlegm in the throat

You may experience Globus pharyngeus, the sensation of a lump or object in your throat, causing you to cough to clear your oesophagus.8 The presence of phlegm in the throat, or mucus dysfunction, can impair breathing, swallowing, or voice production.1 You may also have an itchy or sore throat and catarrh.

Why do i always get phlegm in my throat

Considering the causes of phlegm mentioned earlier, you always get phlegm in your throat because you;

  • Are constantly and still exposed to irritants, allergens, and pollutants within your environment
  • Have a disease that may be causing it
  • Your body is fighting off an infection, likely a viral or sinus infection
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Drink little or many fluids

Ways to get rid of phlegm in your throat

Most of the time, once the phlegm has run its course, you don't need to take any medication for it. Nonetheless, there are methods to help you eliminate phlegm in your throat, keeping in mind the likely reason and your health if you need to do so for comfort.  

Natural-home remedies

There are several home cures for excess mucus. You can gargle with salt water if you have a sore throat and use a humidifier or saline spray to prevent drying of your nasal passages. It has been demonstrated that eating spicy cuisine, chicken soup, and honey (not for babies under one) can help. Additionally, you can use eucalyptus or peppermint essential oils for steam inhalation or add a few drops to your diffuser. Other methods to assist clear the airways include breathing exercises and postural drainage positions.


In the existence of another disease, treating this disease-causing mucus dysfunction will typically get rid of it. Otherwise, over-the-counter expectorants, decongestants for your nose, mucolytics, and other medications that work to thin out and loosen phlegm for easy clearance can be taken.7 Always consult your healthcare provider before you self-medicate,


Maintaining a healthy lifestyle includes drinking adequate water, cleaning frequently, checking the filters in your heating and cooling systems, trying to give up smoking, keeping irritants out of your space, and consuming foods that are good for your lungs, such as ginseng, licorice, and pomegranates.


The accumulation of phlegm in the throat without clearance can facilitate microbial growth, leading to infection and inflammation.9 You should watch out for issues like chest congestion or changes to the colour of the phlegm. You should keep track of the changes in the colour and consistency of your phlegm in case you have to see a doctor who may perform a sputum analysis.10 Excess mucus can also worsen the case of people with an underlying respiratory disease such as COPD and increases the death risk.11

When to consult a doctor

It is problematic when symptoms become regular, last longer than three weeks, or the phlegm thickens and is accompanied by fever, chills, and night sweats, especially if you also experience weight loss, nasal obstruction, or sporadic nosebleeds that last longer than two weeks.


The body uses mucus production to defend itself. Despite its usefulness, excessive phlegm production, a sign of decreased mucus clearance, can limit your activity and lower your quality of life. It could be caused by allergens, smoke, irritants, or other environmental causes, or it might be a sign of pulmonary infection or disease. Consult your doctor for a complete diagnosis and treatment if it persists after three weeks of self-management with home remedies, a healthy lifestyle, and medicine.


  1. “Phlegm.” Voice and Swallowing Doctor | Sunil Verma, M.D., 13 Dec. 2016, Available from: https://throatdisorder.com/throat-disorders/phlegm/.
  2. Kim, Victor, et al. “Dawn of a New Era in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Airway Mucus Dysfunction.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, vol. 199, no. 2, Jan. 2019, pp. 133–34. DOI.org (Crossref), Available from: https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201808-1444ED.
  3. Dickey, Burton F. “What It Takes for a Cough to Expel Mucus from the Airway.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 115, no. 49, Dec. 2018, pp. 12340–42. DOI.org (Crossref), Available from: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1817484115.
  4. 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. nejm.org (Atypon), Available from: https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMra0910061.
  5. Spies, Ruan, et al. “Sputum Colour as a Marker for Bacteria in Acute Exacerbations of COPD: Protocol for a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Systematic Reviews, vol. 10, no. 1, July 2021, p. 211. BioMed Central, Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-021-01767-6.
  6. Zhang, Qiu-Yan, et al. “Correlations between Phlegm Syndrome of Chinese Medicine and Coronary Angiography: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, vol. 2015, 2015, p. 751743. PubMed Central, Available from: https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/751743.
  7. Shen, Yongchun, et al. “Management of Airway Mucus Hypersecretion in Chronic Airway Inflammatory Disease: Chinese Expert Consensus (English Edition).” International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, vol. 13, Jan. 2018, pp. 399–407. PubMed Central, Available from: https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S144312.
  8. Jones, Daniel, and Simon Prowse. “Globus Pharyngeus: An Update for General Practice.” The British Journal of General Practice, vol. 65, no. 639, Oct. 2015, pp. 554–55. PubMed Central, Available from: https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp15X687193.
  9. Li, Yao, and Xiao Xiao Tang. “Abnormal Airway Mucus Secretion Induced by Virus Infection.” Frontiers in Immunology, vol. 12, 2021. Frontiers, Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.701443.
  10. Shen F, Sergi C. Sputum Analysis. [Updated 2022 Feb 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563195/.
  11. Tian, Pan-wen, and Fu-qiang Wen. “Clinical Significance of Airway Mucus Hypersecretion in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” Journal of Translational Internal Medicine, vol. 3, no. 3, 2015, pp. 89–92. PubMed Central, Available from: https://doi.org/10.1515/jtim-2015-0013.
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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Chimezirim Ozonyiri

Bachelor of Science - BS, Microbiology, General, Tansian University, Nigeria

Chimezirim has several years of experience in the healthcare, non-profit, and education sectors. She is passionate about health promotion and began her journey into health and lifestyle writing over two years ago.

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