Phlegm

I've seen many posts about people suffering from excessive or thick sticky phlegm and sinus issues; I'm also aware of the the standard self help advice such as drinking more water and avoiding dairy. But I've struggled to find any scientific research that has been done on people suffering from this condition. Are you aware of any institutions or specialists that specialise in this area, and of any research that has been or is being done? Considering that this is such a common problem, I would have thought research should be taking place to identify

- causes of sinus infection

- causes of excessive phlegm

- causes of phlegm turning thick

- causes of phlegm turning sticky

- how to alleviate/cure the above

- is it connected with thyroid problems?

I have tried various approaches without too much success; saline rinse, limiting milk and cheese, more fluid intake, apple cider vinegar with honey, NAC... Am currently trying out olive leaf extract capsules. My problem is that this difficult to dislodge phlegm in the throat has started to act as a trigger for anxiety. If only I could get the phlegm to become thin and flow through the normal channels...

Any links to places / people doing research would be appreciated. Perhaps if there are enough people out there we could even lobby for research into this neglected (it seems to me) problem.

9 Replies

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  • Hi realturbo

    I'm sorry I don't know of any research on the matter, but I haven't looked (yet) although I think I have sinus problems too - undiagnosed of course.

    My brother had a painful corrective operation (but still suffers) & so I'm not all that keen to mention problems to my GP - when I finally said I had no sense of smell/taste I'm sure she thought I was making it up "sigh... & when did THAT happen?" Since learnt to avoid taking more than 3 symptoms into an appointment at any one time.

    I've been 'bunged up' for over 3 weeks now - hubby is annoyed at me snoring - which is rich as he's always snored & wakes me up!

    Yes it's a neglected field, some suffer with 'post-nasal' drip (my mum did).

    Sadly I had no problems when I smoked my 5 a day - wrong I know, but true.

    When hypothyroid all processes slow down, so I can only guess that applies to nasal function too ???

    best wishes, Jane :D

    P.S. interesting that Phlegm is one of Hippocrates' four 'humours' 'tho (ancient medicine) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humorism

  • I am unaware of any research but.. about 15 yrs ago when I presented to my doc with my third sore throat for the year from drainage, he suggested that I take guaifenisin, a

    product that would 'liquify' the drainage. What??? I didn't want more drainage. I wanted less, right? Well, by golly. It worked. The FDA in their infinite wisdom took it off prescription and made it an OTC medication. Musinex stepped in to fill the breach but I am allergic to the blue dye in Musinex and, in order to get it dye free, I had to get it compounded... 600 mgs caps, extended release, dye and lactose free. That is how the rx is written. I take 1 or 2 caps each am and pm. If you don't drink plenty of water, you won't get the full benefits of it. When I don't take it, I am constantly clearing my throat and am stuffed up and congested. When I do take it like I should, I breath effortlessly... no coughing, no clearing my throat etc. It is a wonder drug in my opinion and I have taken it for years. Supposedly, it can even be helpful for folks with COPD but I would google that application. Also, some can take plain Musinex (extended release.. the 12 hr product) with no problem.

  • I recently suffered with sinusitis - back in the Summer - and read an article by Chris Kresser ( I think ! ) Apparently some bacteria that reside in the gut can also reside in the nose/sinuses. Sorry in a rush so will look later for the article !

    Also phlegm is an indication that there is inflammation somewhere in the body and this is one way of it escaping. I suffered for most of my younger life and was teased at school as I couldn't do anything without a hanky for my runny nose....

    Have you tried the Neti-Pot with the appropriate powders ?

  • No link but when I cut out sugar my phlegm went. When I started eating it again my phlegm came back. x

  • Thanks to everybody for replying. I have been using the neti pot with Himalayan salt and a little bicarbonate in warm water. I do find it helps. Although I try to minimise dairy, sugar and other mucus forming foods, I would struggle to completely cut out sugar. Guaifenisin on its own does not seem to be readily available in the UK.

    It's a shame that there doesn't seem to be much research happening to discover the cause (and a remedy) for this problem. Finding out what causes the phlegm to turn thick and gluey would be a good starting point...

    Maybe I might start by contacting the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital.

  • If you want to find a product in the UK containing Guaifenisin as the only active ingredient, take a look at this link :

    medicines.org.uk/emc/ingred...

    Some of the oral solutions listed might be what you want. If you click on the links you will be able to read the patient information leaflets given with each product and also the other ingredients included in the product.

  • Funny. I work there! Not sure who I would speak to about phlegm though!!

  • I have had problems all my life until I went on a diet that eliminated all grains from my diet specifically bread products. When I don't eat bread I do not clear my throat all the time and I do not have problems with sinus, when I eat bread it happens quite quickly and the worst of it lasts about half an hour, the drainage and stuffiness, and the constant clearing. It is annoying and I don't know why I keep doing it but know that that is the problem for me. Only problem is that grains are in everything. I am not saying gluten by the way, I am saying literally "grains" and grain products which is something we should be limiting anyway with Hashimotos. Hope this helps

  • Thanks for the info humanbean. And thanks for sharing your experiences Misspj. Unfortunately I'm not good at finding links between food and phlegm (have been keeping dairy and cheese to a minimum though).