Separate fact from fiction with this top 10 best ways to remove phlegm from your throat – examining the most effective ways to resolve the symptoms of your cold or flu.
Using antibiotics is not the way to go, though. Antibiotics are used in the treatment of bacterial infections, not viral infections. The common cold is caused by a virus, not a bacterium. The very last thing we should do, then, is administer antibiotics where they’re not needed. True, in some cases what appears to be a viral cold is actually a bacterial infection – but this is something to be determined by your physician, and not guided by the errors of myth.
One of the reasons that this myth has spread is the confusion some people have between correlation and causation. They assume that because they took an antibiotic during their last common cold that the antibiotic was responsible for their improving symptoms. What actually happened is that their symptoms were going to improve anyway, as they probably reached the stage at which their cold was at its worst. If you’re at the worst stage of an infection, then by definition the only way is up. Improving symptoms are, in other words, not caused by the antibiotic.
That aside, then, let’s assess some of the best ways to remove phlegm from your throat; a nagging symptom that almost feels as if it’ll never go away.
1. Honey and Lemon Cocktails
Coughing is a reflex process used to eliminate the source of irritation from your throat – often caused by the mere presence of phlegm.
It’s ill-advised to forcefully expel the phlegm, as this force can damage the lining of your throat – prolonging the cough in the long-term. Combining honey and lemon, then, and immersing this mixture in hot water acts as a more comforting alternative. Many over-the-counter preparations already contain both of these ingredients, highlighting their therapeutic potential in alleviating both phlegm and throat irritation. Of course, preparing your own honey and lemon drink is never a hard task; a drink with antibacterial properties and the ability to help regenerate any damaged lining of the throat.
2. Always Stay Hydrated
The common cold and flu can take its toll; running down the body’s infrastructure in 7-10 day battle. And that’s where hydration comes in.
Dehydration is a common symptom of a cold or flu. And, unlike the virus itself, you can actually do something to tackle it. Try to consume at least 2L of fluids each day; but ensure that these fluids are healthy choices. Fluids doesn’t mean ‘anything goes’. To the contrary, it means choosing liquids such as nutritious soups, flavoured teas, and even plain, cold water. Add fresh lemon juice to cold or hot water for that extra kick. While vitamin C doesn’t help to cure the cold, it does help to prime the immune system in the long-term. It’s also refreshing to drink, helping you to distract from the stuffiness caused by the phlegm. Water also helps to keep the lining of your throat moist.
3. Gargling Salt Water
Using salt can help facilitate phlegm movement and removal. However, this depends on the amount of salt you use.
Using too much salt can dry the back of your throat. This is the very last thing we want, as it can exacerbate your cough. Using a modest amount of salt, though, is both acceptable and therapeutic. Simply add two-to-three teaspoons of salt to a 200mL glass of water. Stir the salt into the solution to dissolve. There’s no point adding the salt if, when you take a mouthful, the salt remains bedded to the bottom of the glass. If you find it difficult to gargle salt water due to its taste, use a smaller amount of salt and progressively add more for future gargles. Repeat this process several times each day.
4. Consume Hot Drinks
Hot drinks have the effect of loosening phlegm from the lining of the throat.
This can help in two ways. First, it can assist the passage of phlegm from the throat to the acidic environment of the stomach. Second, it can help loosen phlegm, helping you to cough the phlegm up. When intentionally trying to cough up phlegm, try not to act too forcefully. This can damage the lining of your throat, worsening the cough.
Not all hot drinks are recommended, though. For example – hot alcoholic drinks, such as heated whiskey, may offer short-term relief but they can contribute to longer-term dehydration. This becomes more true with the more alcoholic drinks (whether hot or cold) you consume. Try to moderate your alcohol intake during the cold or flu.
5. …and Consume Hot Foods!
Hot foods can also have a soothing effect. Like hot drinks, they can also loosen any phlegm in your throat.
Spicy foods are particularly effective in this regard. Spicy foods aren’t for everyone, that’s for sure. But you can add as much, or as little, spice as you wish. There is no obligation to consume Indian-style curry’s anytime soon. Steam – both from hot foods and drink – also offers effective relief both for nasal congestion and any dryness at the back of your throat.
6. Inhale Steam
And one of the best ways to exploit the therapeutic power of steam is as follows.
The process is simple. First, find a large bowl and fill that bowl with boiling water. Maximize the transfer of steam from the water to our nostrils by placing a towel over your head. This ensures that as little steam escapes as possible. But you must be careful. You must be sitting comfortably and in a place where you’re unlikely to move or shift. You need to remain as still and undisturbed as possible. This precaution helps to avoid any unwanted accidents.
7. Rest, rest…rest
It’s impossible to overestimate the therapeutic value of rest; a way to “reset” your body and allow natural processes to take over.
Resting allows your body the space and time to fight off the infection. If you’re too active throughout the day, this will only exacerbate any present dehydration. Similarly, try to avoid too much exercise during the day. Exercise, like alcohol, can worsen dehydration and exhaustion. Think of rest as an investment of your time – something from which you can profit in the long term. It shortens the cold and flu, helps to rid the body of any unwanted phlegm, and helps you to get back to work sooner.
8. Refrain from smoking
If you’re a smoker, you might think it’s time to look away. You couldn’t be more wrong.
Irritants from smoking only serve to worsen the cough, prolong phlegm presence and production, and slower the overall recovery period. It’s recommended that smokers should, if they cannot stop smoking during this period, at least cut down on the amount they smoke. Similarly, you should avoid toxic products in general – whether they be fumes from paint or domestic cleaning products.
9. Grab a Tissue!
The best way to remove phlegm for other people is not to spread the infection in the first place. That’s where tissues come in.
You should try your best to limit the spread of the virus to other people. If they took sufficient precautions, after all, then you might not have contracted the virus in the first place. Learn about how viruses spread and make a positive effort to limit that spread. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is by using tissues. Always cough into tissues; that ensures the viral particles do not spread around the room. Open windows to ensure adequate ventilation. Keeping the heating on can also create optimum conditions for viral growth. By taking these steps, and by informing others of these steps, it remains one of the best ways to remove phlegm from your throat – a prophylactic approach.
10. Using Ginger and Turmeric
Ginger and turmeric are, for many, acquired tastes. But their use is an established way to help remove phlegm build-up.
Try to incorporate ginger and turmeric into your meals. This could be through teas, infused or otherwise, or even by adding a small amount to your food. Ginger and turmeric are versatile foods. Ginger is a natural decongestant and has been used in this way for hundreds of years. Turmeric is also associated with its own range of antiseptic properties. Together they work to reduce the duration of your cold or flu. While not much research has been conducted into the value of these two foods, anecdotal evidence suggests that it has some viable effect.