British Lung Foundation
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Help!!! How can I remove phlegm from throat

Hi there everyone

I am recovering from bronchial pneumonia but still having very bad throat phlegm that just will not cough up. It is not in the chest, but high up in the throat where the voice box is and is there on inspriation and exporation.

Sorry for the description but it is so bad that I am coughing and choking. It is rattling and rubbing like mad but nothing ever comes up.

Tried every cough mixture I can think of and breathing in eucalyptus steam. Inhalers are doing nothing to speak of.

Any ideas ???

Thanks Andrea

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34 Replies

I get the stuff 'stuck' during the night and sometimes have to get up to try and shift it, my quick cure is a milky cuppa. Somehow the hot milky mixture will loosen it for me.

Add a few deep coughs with added 'huff' and I can be back on my way to sleep in 15 minutes.

I found 'huff' here

and another tip at

Actually milk will make it worse the best thing is lemon and honey in warm water


I would have thought that too but it works for Gordon :)

For 2weeks stuff stuck at back of nose/in throat-Lemon/ ginger no good-inhaling no good -walking no good-breathing exercises no good-20 ventolin puffs a day through spacer ok- but son in law cooked chicken curry tonight and it got shifted -pretty hot curry but what a relief!!!

yeah not sure if this guy is taking the P but milk is literally the worst thing as it'll make it thicker. Hot water with lemon. plenty of pineapple juice x

Why would I take the P ? It worked for me and I did say milky tea, not just milk. Apart from that, the topic is over 5 years old now...

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It takes all sorts as they say Gordon 😉

5 years on and your advice still works for me. Thank you very much 😃

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Thanks a lot gordon...I hoped somebody would come up with something.

The Huff as they say is very interesting but I need to read it a few times I think.

Hopefully that will send me back to sleep


I get similar, not on my chest but stuck in my throat, I have a teaspoonful of Cavonia catarrh relief and it seems to break it up, but what works for one dosn't always work for everyone.

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You could ask your Doctor if Mucodyne...250mg/5ml..Syrup..Carbocisteine would help. I have had an unpleasant episode in the las few days and this has helped me. Sort of thinning effect on the sticky stuff allowing it to be coughed out.

Does mucodyne helps with coughing as well

Five years on and I have changed meds a few times. For the last 4 years I have been on inhalers that manage my breathing very well. Ventolin first, 2 puffs 4 times a day...Atrovent clog shifter extrodinaire! 2 puffs 4 times a day and finishing with Sirdupla, 2puffs twice a day. Have just recently gone on to Oxygen, used as and when I feel I need it. Atrovent was a game changer for me.

Hope this is of some help.


Never found Mucodyne worked!

Huffing is good if you have the breath to do it, Atrovent inhaler does it for me, ask doc. if you can try it?


It is horrible when you can't get rid of sputum - as hajoed say's a medical intervebtion would be a mucolytic - this helps to thin the mucous out making it easier to bring up! You couls also try controlled coughing - i ahve found this lionk on the internet which may be useful - it may also be useful to see if you can get a referral to a chest physiotherapist to show you the techniques.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!


Have you asked your doctor what might be causing this Andrea?

This may or may not be helpful - please ignore if it isnt. there are many reasons for throat mucus so this may well not apply to you. Same syptoms certainly dont automatically mean same condition!

Ive also just had an infection which was treated with antibiotics and pred. The infection has more or less gone now but I have similar mucus to what you describe in my throat and the irritation from it causes uncontrollable coughing spasms and the choking and its hard and exhausting to cough up.

Besides copd I also have reflux which many people with lung disease have and this causes the huge amount of sticky throat mucus. Ive only just found out from my doc that the very antibiotics and steroids used to treat lung infections actually also cause major reflux episodes and much larger amounts of throat mucus than usual. You cant win :(

I keep hydrated, drink a lot of water, herb teas, use steaming etc. Mucodene doesnt work for me but does well for many as others have said. Like Gordon says, huffing helps.

I was diagnosed with hiatus hernia and reflux 26 years ago (age 40) but was not told the reflux might need treatment. As the symptoms were largely "silent", ie i didnt feel any heartburn etc, i ignored it for over 20 years until it started causing major mucus problems. I now have barratts oesophagus due to having left it untreated so long.

But whatever the cause, mucus in the throat needs investigation; to me it seemed so minor compared to the copd but now i know better.

Hope you improve, good luck, jean :)

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Yeah I have gerd it suck hard I got that sticky stuff in my throat to grapes seem to be helping get it out for some reason make sure you take your ppi med it will heal your esophagus this Shit sucks hard

what works for me is.....i keep a jug if iced water in the fridge ready as it seems to make my mucus thinner as i drink it but it must be ice cold, anything hot justs makes it worse.Try to keep the water in the back of your throat for as long as you can without choking,. good luck

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comfortable,relaxed breathing-deep breathing phase,slow controlled deep breath,breath in with a breath hold of 3 seconds,for 3 times.huffing phase,take a medium breath in and hold for 3 secs then open mouth wide and Huff the air out fast (as if steaming up a mirror) repeat 3 times.Take a deep breath in hold then HUFF out long and hard just once.Cough phase,lean forward and cough. Hope these excersises help you as they do me.good luck.


Wow, that really does work! Thanks.

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Thanks fishtail ... wish I had looked this up earlier, just spend two days basically vomitting large chunks of mucus because I couldn't bring it up... but this really does work!! sound advice thanks

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Thanks! Didn't really think it would've work but it did!

Although you wrote this 4 years ago, I just want to thank you for your remedy, it really works!!!! I have been suffering with this for a long time and you just cured me 😘


Relief at last! Thank you so much.

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Just did that fishtail - it works !!


Im having a very bad throat phlegm,won't let me lie down or sleep.just will not cough out . makes me feel uncomfortable while am sleeping. It is not in my chest ,just stock high up in my throat where the voice box is.i feel mucus lining in my throat and makes me spit out loads of mucus. I'm sorry to describe it in this way. Pardon my manners.please answers needed


I had that same problem with my throat. Coconut oil has stopped it. 1 teaspoon per day. I use Nutiva brand at GNC, Amazon. I also take oil of Oregano 1 capsule per day and it has stopped my chronic bronchitis infection. I had this problem for many ,many years.

FYI coconut oil will give you amazing energy. It alo helps memory problems. Amazing stuff. Cheap too.

I cough just a little bit when I take the coconut oil but it's nothing to compare to the misery of spitting, coughing, couldn't even talk for all the junk in my throat. I have been to dozens of ENT's with 0 results. The coconut oil stopped it.


How long did it take the coconut oil to work? I just started on mine a couple days ago.

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Last May of 2013 I noticed my dairy had changed. I'm a super-taster/smeller. With research and trial and error, using myself as a guinea pig I have come to the conclusion that the phlegm you are experiencing is a direct result of the mandatory new pasteurization process in the U.S. Now, all dairy must be Ultra-heat-treated. What this does is make all milk have a shelf-life of 9 months unrefrigerated. However the reason it can stay on shelf is because the process U.H.T. kills all the healthy enzymes and proteins that is meant to aid human bodies. UHT has been signed by over 1000 scientists as being a major health hazard. It causes leaky gut, respiratory problems, food sensitivities and compromises the human immune system! If you eat anything with dairy from the U.S. in it, be it caramel candies, milk chocolate, butter, cream, sour cream, cream cheese, cheese, milk, and numerous other milk products you will suffer a very viscous hard to get rid of phlegm problem. Mine was so bad I was choking on it to the point of wretched vomiting and convulsions. I never have the problem if I stay clear of all milk products. I drink Silk almond milk unsweetened with vanilla and it breaks my heart because I was the hugest milk lover and miss it very much! This is why we are seeing an outbreak of illnesses and allergies in our young children and it's as if the AMA have all turned a blind eye. This U.H.T. Dairy is preposterous and a major health hazard yet nobody in authority will listen. The other danger for us all is the GMO foods that have been amped up with intentional poisons on a molecular dna level and can cross-contaminate non-GMO crops to become GMO, kills off our bee population, and contains pesticides, chemicals, bacteria, and viruses intentionally placed to "slow kill" people as a form of population control by people so rich their twisted minds actually think you and I are consuming THEIR resources and must be stopped. The truth is, if we allowed our soils to rest and grow without chemicals we'd yield enough foods to feed a world population of 20 billion people. So don't fall for the old, "GMO foods are here to feed the masses." It's a ruse for monopolies and for control of the masses. Yes, I'm scared and no, I'm not crazy.


Hi I have a device called the acapella and it's fantastic for getting the phlegm up.

Blow as though you are blowing up a balloon.  This helps to move it around and bring it up. Also have someone pat your back as if trying to burp you. 

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I have phlegm choking me sometimes and now hiccups every 3 seconds for two weeks. It's getting a frustrating.

Any Ideas?

Thanks Colin.

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I'm having a problem also with coughing up mucus, I'm recovering from throats cancer, I had a very large tumor remove from my voicebox and the cancer had spread in my throat, after radiation and chemo and surgery to remove the tumor it left me with constant mucus in my throat ,sometimes it scares me because it will block my airway and it's hard to cough it up, the muscles in my throat are damaged from 35 radiation treatments so even coughing seems impossible sometimes, can you tell me how to cough this stuff up or how to build my throats muscles up so I can cough it up?

Considering the surgery you have had and the delicate condition of that area I think you may be better to see your Consultant for advice. It can be a bit tricky clearing the throat for those of us with no damage. Ask if an Atrovent inhaler would help.

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