Mucus in Throat, Hard to Breathe!

There is mucus in the digestive tract as well as the respiratory tract, but most people only notice it when it becomes excessive. Depending on many factors, the consistency, color, and volume of mucus can change. Excessive mucus can be quite annoying and dangerous, especially when it causes nasal congestion and makes it difficult to breathe. 

Causes of Mucus in Throat and Hard to Breathe

You may develop excess mucus in throat and find it hard to breathe because of the following reasons.

1. Cold and Flu

These viral infections are usually the most common causes of developing excessive mucus in the air passages. These are acute conditions and usually take a few days to resolve completely. You do not require any treatment, but it sometimes makes sense to take supportive measures to feel better. You may continue to have excessive mucus production even when your main symptoms resolve.

2. Pneumonia

The condition causes inflammation of the lung tissues and may even lead to infections in the bronchi. Pneumonia can be of different types and some of them are likely to produce more mucus as compared to others. When you have pneumonia, the mucus you produce goes straight in your lungs and settles there. This aggravates the whole situation and makes breathing worse. You may even experience the sensation of suffocating sometimes.

3. Asthma

Asthma usually occurs in early childhood but may continue throughout adulthood. This chronic airway condition may cause excessive mucus in throat. Hard to breathe, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and breathing difficulties are other common symptoms of asthma. The condition becomes worse when the excessive mucus accumulates in the airway and narrows it down.

4. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Years of smoking increases your risk of developing COPD, which implies that you have done serious damages to the airways and lung tissue. You may develop chronic bronchitis or emphysema, both of which are likely to produce excessive mucus, causing a persistent productive cough. You should stop smoking or else the mucus production can become so severe that it may lead to choking while sleeping.

5. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

If you have symptoms such as mucus in throat, hard to breathe, it could be GERD, a condition that causes stomach acids to move up to the esophagus. This also makes your body produce excessive saliva in order to neutralize the acid. It is possible to have GERD with or without the typical heartburn, but excessive mucus in the mouth is usually present in most cases.

6. Lung Cancer

A possible cause of your excessive mucus production could be lung cancer. You experience difficulty breathing when cancer destroys lung tissue. The mucus you expel may have blood in it. Some people experience some pain as well. It is worth pointing out that lung cancer is often asymptomatic until it reaches an advanced stage.

7. Acute Bronchitis

You develop acute bronchitis when the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed. You usually develop this condition after acute viral conditions, such as the flu. These tubes help carry air into and outside the lungs, but the inflammation leads to the narrowing of those tubes, making it difficult for you to breathe properly. Along with inflammation, mucus buildup is another reason why acute bronchitis can make breathing difficult.

8. Anxiety

When you are experiencing anxiety attacks, you are likely to deal with excess mucus. Actually, being anxious can aggravate any mucus-producing physical problems you may already have, such as allergies, GERD, etc. Your allergies become worse when you are under stress because it directly affects your immune system. A dysfunctional immune system cannot protect you from infections and you end up developing conditions that lead to excessive mucus production.

How to Deal with Mucus in Throat

Mucus in throat, hard to breathe, persistent coughing, etc., are issues that can be quite annoying and uncomfortable. Follow these suggestions:

1. Identify the Underlying Causes

When you find it difficult to breathe because there is mucus in your throat, you should go see your doctor to identify the underlying cause. He or she may order several tests to confirm a diagnosis. For instance:

  • He or she may ask for a chest X-ray to confirm if you have pneumonia or another condition.
  • He or she may order sputum tests to ensure your persistent coughing is not a sign of tuberculosis, allergies or another illness.
  • He or she may order a pulmonary function test to measure the capacity of your lungs to hold and release air.

2. Get Rid of Thick Mucus

Being able to identify the underlying cause always helps resolve the issue in a better way. You can also take steps to help eliminate thick mucus from your system. For instance:

  • Try salt water gargling thrice a day to eliminate the phlegm. Be sure to continue with gargling for at least 15 days to see positive results.
  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This also helps thin out the mucus and makes it easier to get it out of your system.
  • Try steam inhalation to open up your sinuses and nostrils. Inhale steam before you go to bed and after you wake up in the morning. You can repeat it during the day depending on how severe the congestion is.
  • Pay attention to your diet and make subtle changes to manage your condition better. You may want to avoid refined foods, fried stuff, and dairy foods because they promote mucus formation.
  • Be sure to blow off your nose gently after you wake up in the morning.

What's more, you may be experiencing excess mucus production because of serious stress. In this case, how do you handle stress? Here is an article telling you what to do.