Why Do You Cough Up Green Mucus?

When you suffer from a viral or even a bacterial infection such as a cold, you may notice that you cough up phlegm that is quite green in color. Many people get alarmed at such phlegm because usually phlegm’s color is white leaning towards pale yellow. So what exactly does green phlegm indicate? This article will go over the meaning of green phlegm, the concerns about it, and simple remedies that can be used to relieve such a condition.

What Does Coughing up Green Phlegm Mean?

When the mucus in the respiratory system is blocked, it causes bacteria to accumulate, thereby causing infections. When there is a bacterial infection in the body, white blood cells accumulate. The phlegm turns green when there are enzymes called myeloperoxidases (or MPOs) present in your white blood cells. When the green phlegm mucus is released, it could mean that there is a sinus infection. Other underlying conditions include flu, allergies, dryness in the air, Candida Albicans, and Nasal Polyps. Such infections change the color of the mucus to green or green-yellow.

Possible Causes of Coughing up Green Mucus

There is a complete series of conditions that could be leading to the coughing up of green phlegm. These include sinusitis, rhinitis, and infection in the membranes of the nose, infection of the tracheal or bronchial lining. Some symptoms may also accompany the condition of green phlegm if the infection is caused by bacteria: nasal congestion, high fever lasting for more than three days, sinus pain, and excretion of blood in the nasal discharge. Other reasons for coughing up green phlegm can include pneumonia, asthma, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis as well as working in hazardous environments, such as coal miners, marble polishing experts, and concrete workers are at greater risk.

When to See a Doctor

The symptoms and signs below indicate a medical emergency:

  • Wheezing
  • High fever that lasts for more than three days
  • Persistent coughing for three weeks
  • Coughing blood together with green phlegm
  • Breathlessness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Feeling disoriented
  • Blue skin and lips
  • Coughing green phlegm while being pregnant or being over 65
  • If you have a weakened immune system
  • If you have a long-term health condition

In any of the above cases, it is imperative that you see a doctor immediately, because any delay in getting medical help can result in serious problems.  

What Can You Do to Relieve Your Condition?

Home Remedies

Coughing up green phlegm is not always a cause for concern. If your condition is not very serious, you can adapt the following natural methods to make yourself feel better while your body is healing.

  • Use Neti Pot: A neti pot is the instrument that looks like a small teapot and can help flush out the excess mucus and irritants in your sinus passage. You can add saline solution to the pot and pour it into one nostril, thereby letting it drain out of the other nostril. Repeat the process with the other nostril. The neti pot will moisturize your nasal passage as well.
  • Apply Warm Compress: Take a small towel and wet it with warm water. Place the towel on the face for one minute. Cover your eyes, nose, and the under-eye region in particular. Continue this process until the pain and phlegm settle down.
  • Humidify: You can also try to humidify your living space, in order to introduce more moisture into the air you breathe. This will prevent the mucus from getting clogged up and creating infections. Steam is another option for opening up any clogged airways.
  • Try Herbal Remedies: You can drink herbal teas or take herbal supplements to relieve your symptoms. Ginger which can fight infections in respiratory system, and turmeric which can kill bacteria, can be used to reduce phlegm and ease your discomfort.

Medicinal Treatment

There are many different kinds of medicines that can be used to alleviate the respiratory symptoms such as coughing up green phlegm.

  • Antihistamine Medicine: These are available over-the-counter and do not require your doctor's prescriptions. Antihistamines are particularly useful for alleviating sinus problems as well as allergies. If the regular antihistamine does not work for you, your doctor may prescribe a stronger anti-allergy.
  • Decongestant: It is available either orally or as a nasal spray and requires your doctor's prescription. These medicines can, however, cause dizziness and nervousness. Other than decongestants, you can also try nasal corticosteroids, saline nasal sprays, and normal nasal sprays. 
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