Excess Mucus in Throat: Thick, Sticky, Constant, Buildup, How to Get Rid

Throat mucus, also known as phlegm, can be described as that uncomfortable feeling that you experience when mucus clogs up your throat or drips from the back of your nose. The glands of your throat and nose produce about 1 to 2 litres of mucus per day. This mucus consists of cells that line the sinus passages and has several important functions.
Mucus are very essential as it moistens and cleanses the nasal passages, traps foreign particles, stops them from filtering into the respiratory system, fights infection and humidifies the air. Most times we are not even aware that we swallow mucus.

Symptoms of Throat Mucus & Phlegm

The symptoms for this condition may range from:

  • Coughing of Mucus & Phlegm
  • Throat Congestion
  • Shortness of Breath

Though not always, a little mucus in throat usually doesn’t ruin your day. If you have a chronic problem you may be wondering what the problem is. You may have been told everything from allergies to reflux. While many people suffer from mucus build-up in throat from allergies, sometimes not even antihistamines clear up the problem.
The upper respiratory system is very close to the opening to your digestive system. Excess mucus in throat can either come up from stomach, or nose and sinuses. Even your throat tissues secret mucus to keep it moist. But about persistently excessive mucus in throat, we are going to look on the causes and ways in which they can be controlled.

Excess Mucus in Throat Causes

Throat mucus, or phlegm, can be a result of allergies or a sore throat, but there are numerous reasons for throat mucus, revealing what is going on inside your body. Even when you are healthy, your body is constantly producing mucus. Most of the time, this mucus drips down the back of your throat without you noticing. But during times of illness, that mucus can clog your throat.
Your body doesn’t necessarily produce more mucus when you’re sick, but the consistency of the mucus changes so you begin to notice it. There are many factors that can change the consistency of mucus, like allergies or milk consumption for some people.

Causes of mucus in throat

A thick mucus that may form in your throat simplifies a condition in the digestive system or respiratory system. Here are some of the causes of excessive mucus in the throat:
Post-nasal drip
This is when mucus travels from the back of the nose down the throat. If post-nasal drip occurs after a meal, it could be a result of an allergy, sinusitis, or vasomotor rhinitis.
Cold or flu

Mucus thickens when an infection is in the body, like a cold or flu. Changes in mucus colour can signal a cold or flu as well.
Congestion, coughing, and sneezing are common during pregnancy along with other morning sickness symptoms. Oestrogen is to blame for mucus in throat during pregnancy.
Seasonal allergies
Something you’re allergic to can change your mucus levels, but the use of antihistamines or the removal of the allergen will make it go away.
Acute bronchitis
This is type of bronchitis causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes and is usually caused by a viral infection or sometimes a bacterial infection. Acute bronchitis can be somehow contagious.
Croup: This occurs when the voice box and windpipe widen as a result of a virus.
Epiglottitis: This is a rare, life-threatening condition caused by a viral infection.
Laryngitis: Inflammation of the larynx caused by a virus.
Pharyngitis: Inflammation of the pharynx caused by a bacterial infection.
Pneumonia: Lung inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infection.
Sinusitis: Inflammation of the sinuses due to either a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.
Tonsillitis: Inflammation of the tonsils caused by an infection.
Tuberculosis: Serious infection of the lungs and other organs.
Other causes: Strep throat, mononucleosis, smoking, air pollution, chemical inhalants, and anxiety.
Unfortunately, some foods can cause throat mucus, and if you are already dealing with throat mucus, the last thing you want to do is add to the problem. Milk and milk products like yogurt, cottage cheese and butter, cause excess mucus in the throat. These items carry protein molecules called casein that increases secretions of mucus and is difficult to digest.
Along with milk products, caffeine, sugar, salt, non- herbal teas, all create excess mucus. Soy is one of the most mucus making plant foods there is. Those who give up meats and dairy and switch to soy products, have a greater risk of creating an unhealthy mucus build up in the body.
Some of the throat disorders such as tonsillitis, strep throat, catarrh, laryngitis often have symptoms of mucus in the throat. Viral infections such as chicken pox, measles, mononucleosis, whooping cough or croup may also cause throat mucus.
If the throat is irritated by cigarette smoke, polluted air or chemical fumes, mucus can also settle on the lining of the throat and nasal lining. Throat mucus also causes bad breath because it contains high protein content and produces anaerobic bacteria.
Symptoms that can occur with throat mucus
You can experience other accompanying symptoms depending on the cause of the mucus in throat. Usually, mucus in throat is a result of a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. The symptoms may include fever, chills, congestion, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, headache, and difficulty breathing.
Symptoms of throat mucus alone are phlegm, throat congestion, shortness of breath, and coughing out mucus and phlegm.
Foods that relieve or cause excessive mucus in throat
Some foods can contribute to throat mucus and other foods can help relieve it. Although every person is different and may have their own unique triggers, here are some of the common foods to avoid with mucus in the throat, and foods to enjoy as they can help reduce mucus:

  • Dairy products like milk, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese
  • High-fat red meat and processed meat
  • Gluten products – especially in people with a gluten allergy
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine – particularly the variety found in soda
  • Fruits and vegetables, like bananas, cabbage, and potatoes
  • Foods that relieve mucus:
  • Fruits and vegetables like garlic, celery, onions, parsley, winter squash, berries, oranges, greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and peppers
  • Chicken soup
  • Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, lake trout, and herring
  • Olive oil

Excessive mucus in throat every morning

Waking up each day with mucus in throat may be due to a few different reasons. For starters, mucus in throat in the morning could be a result of an infection or allergy, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or it could be a sign of congestive heart failure.
Congestive heart failure, can cause daily mucus in throat each morning, because the heart has a difficult time moving high amounts of blood through the body, causing fluid build-up. This fluid accumulates in the lungs, especially when a person is lying flat throughout the night. The result is a wet cough in the morning or throughout the night.
Excessive mucus in throat after eating
There are numerous reasons for experiencing mucus in throat after eating, including food allergies, post-nasal drip, medication side effects, chronic rhinitis, laryngopharyngeal reflux, being a heavy smoker, and viral or bacterial infections.
In order to reduce mucus in throat after a meal, increase your fluid intake to help loosen up mucus, inhale steam after your meal, avoid foods you’re allergic to, gargle lukewarm water with salt, drink herbal tea after the meal, and stop smoking or begin to cut back.

Severe excessive mucus in throat conditions

The colour of your mucus in throat is a strong indicator of how severe the health problem is. Generally, thin and clear is the safest, and other colours could indicate a particular infection. Here are some guidelines to know when mucus in throat is a serious issue.
Thin and clear: Sign of cold or allergies, it could also be a sign of medication side effect or a reaction to certain food.
Thick and coloured: If mucus is very thick, it could be a sign of dryness, which can be caused by heating systems. If mucus appears green, yellow, or brownish, it could indicate a bacterial infection.
Rattling sound in chest: If mucus is dripping down to your chest, it may be difficult to swallow and may cause a “rattling” sound, which may be pointing to pneumonia.
Burning sensation: If mucus is burning, it could be a result of a heartburn or GERD.
Paying attention to your mucus can help offer insights into your overall health and give you indications on how to treat the mucus.

How to get rid of Thick Mucus in Throat

As horrible as thick, sticky mucus is, it actually serves a vital function in the body. Mucus lines the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs and gastrointestinal tract helping to lubricate these surfaces, while acting as a filter to remove unwanted substances before they enter the body. It also contains antibodies and enzymes that help the body recognize and kill invaders like bacteria and viruses.
However, nipping the underlying cause of excessive mucus in throat is vital to normalize production, these natural remedies will help you manage your streaming or stuffy nose and congested chest in the meantime.
Blow Your Nose Properly
Probably the most obvious way to clear mucus from the nasal passages is to blow your nose! You have to make sure you do it correctly or it may cause more problems, according to some experts. Clear only one nostril at a time, blowing gently. (Blowing too hard can cause small openings in the sinus areas and can force irritants and bacteria further back into the body.)
Drink Warm Liquids
Always make sure to stay hydrated with warm drinks while you’re under the weather. Not only will they provide you with some degree of comfort, but warm water, herbal teas and lemon water help to loosen the mucus in the chest and nasal passages.
When researchers tested the effects of hot and cold drinks on flu sufferers, they found that those who drank a hot beverage experienced ‘immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose’ as well as a reduction in coughing, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness.
Inhale Steam
Used to enhance health for thousands of years, steam therapy is both effective and completely safe. Breathing in steam serves to loosen up the mucus and phlegm so they can move out of your body more quickly. To make a steam bowl, boil water in a pot or kettle and transfer immediately to a large, heat proof bowl. Drape a towel over your head and lean over the bowl, positioning the towel to keep in as much steam as possible. Breathe in the vapours for up to ten minutes.
If this seems like too much effort, a steamy shower twice a day will also provide some relief.
Raise the Humidity
Adding extra moisture to the air in your home will help to thin out mucus in the nose and phlegm in the chest. This can be achieved by using either a warm-mist or a cool-mist humidifier although the cool-mist is a better option. Firstly, it’s safer, particularly if you have children or pets; and is more cost-effective, using less energy than the warm-mist version.
Keeping the machine clean is of the utmost importance though, as the growth of bacteria and moulds will only serve to exacerbate your condition, and contribute to further mucus formation. Wipe it down every day with a solution of vinegar, water and tea tree oil.
Apply Warm Compresses
To help loosen mucus further, allowing it to drain out of the nose, place a warm compress on the affected areas. Simply wet a small towel with very warm water (or zap a damp washcloth in the microwave for 30 seconds). Lay this gently over the eyes, nose and cheeks and leave for three minutes.
Repeat this procedure two to six times a day until all the mucus has cleared.
Diffuse Essential Oils
With their strong aromas and antimicrobial properties, essential oils can be a powerful therapeutic tool when clearing away mucus and phlegm.
Some of the most potent mucus fighting oils include:

  • Eucalyptus– antiseptic, antiviral, and decongestant.
  • Tea tree– an effective antimicrobial, expectorant and antiseptic.
  • Peppermint– helps to open nasal passages.
  • Thyme – powerful antiseptic and great for colds, flu and chills.
  • Basil – an antiseptic that helps open nasal passages.
  • Rosemary– an antiseptic that helps open nasal passages.
  • Pine – decongestant and antimicrobial.
  • Lavender– antihistamine, antiseptic and antimicrobial.
  • Chamomile – relieves and soothes congestion.

Add a few drops of a single oil, or a blend of the above oils, to your diffuser or oil burner and allow them to waft through the room.
You could also take a steamy bath scented with the oils, or shake a few drops on a tissue and hold it in front of your nose, being careful to avoid contact with the skin. At night time, sprinkle some on your pillow to loosen mucus as you snooze – lavender is particularly effective as it also encourages a restful sleep.
If the phlegm is especially concentrated in your throat, then gargling with salt and warm water can be helpful. This remedy creates a high-salt barrier which works to pull out fluids from the tissues in the throat area, helping to remove mucus, irritants and infections. You should also enjoy a noticeable reduction in inflammation, pain and mucus after gargling.
Dissolve a teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt (or sea salt) in a cup of hot water. Allow to cool slightly and then gargle with this solution. Repeat several times a day for continued relief.
Adjust Your Pillows
Sleeping with an elevated head is a great way to relieve congested nasal passages and enjoy a good night’s sleep – which is vital for helping your body deal with infection.
By sleeping this way, you’ll also be preventing the congestion from going to your lungs which can lead to an annoying and painful cough; and you should even experience relief from tinnitus – one of the side effects of a stuffy nose and head.
Some people may find sleeping with two pillows too uncomfortable. A good trick in this case is to place the additional pillow between the mattress and the box springs to create a more gradual slope.
Limit Exposure to Irritants
A stuffy or runny nose can be caused by anything that irritates or inflames the nasal tissues, which is why it’s important to become aware of your triggers and avoid them where possible.
For many people, that includes smoke – from cigarettes or open fires, strong chemical fumes, or sudden temperature changes. Other pollutants that contribute to mucus formation include exhaust fumes, smog, dust, pet dander and moulds.

Sticky Mucus in Throat won’t go away

Mucus in the throat that won’t go away or that you can’t get rid of as many people state is a common happening. Throat clearing and mucus in the throat that will not go away is associated with stomach acid coming up into the back of the throat, as many doctors may reveal.

Causes of mucus in throat that won’t go away

  • People with this form of acid reflux do not typically experience the typical reflux symptoms of indigestion and heartburn. The body has one protective mechanism to acid in the back of the throat, which is mucus. Therefore, that thick mucus in the throat that you experience and cause you problems to clear throat almost constantly in some cases is the one we are talking of.
  • Allergies such as sneezing, mucus running and dripping from nose and itching, can be automatically treated using allergy medication. By using these treatment you will not treat that thick protective mucus in the throat causing the need to clear the throat.

How to get rid of stubborn mucus in the back of the throat

Research shows that you can start by reducing having your meals three hours before bed and cutting down on highly acidic foods. If this fails adequately you can try an over the counter treatment until the symptoms resolve, and then continue to focus on dietary treatment measures to keep the reflux from happening.

What Clears up Sticky Mucus in Back of Throat

When a foreign body, say a virus or some allergen enters our nose, the body reacts back by producing antibodies. The mucoid secretion, which we see is a mixture of this allergen plus the antibody produced, contained in a thick sticky substance. As the allergic or infectious process gets alright, the mucoid snot also gradually go away. This is a normal process.
In some individual, excess of mucus is produced. Also, drainage may not be adequate. This leads to blocked sinuses and sticky throats.

Steps to clear away thick mucus

You need to clear this sticky phlegm. Following steps and a little change in diet may help you do so-

  • Salt water gargling, at least thrice a day would help clearing the phlegm. You need to do them regularly for 15 days to get results.
  • Drink a lot of water. A thick sticky mucous may imply that you are not sufficiently hydrated. Taking water would help in thinning of this Flem.
  • To open up your nostrils and sinuses, take steam inhalation. You may use Vicks vapour rub along with it. Do this before bedtime and when you get up. If required, repeat it in the daytime too. Try to breathe through the nose, if possible.
  • Make a habit of gently blowing off your nose in the morning.
  • Some food stuff aid in mucous formation. You may avoid them for some time. They are- fried stuff, refined foods, dairy food and heavy meals.
  • Fresh fruits would be beneficial for you. Add prune or apple juice.

More references

  1. Mucus build up in throat: http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Mucus-Buildup-in-Throat.html
  2. What is mucus: http://www.everydayhealth.com/mucus/guide/