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Coughing Up Brown Mucus or Phlegm

Are you coughing up brown mucus or phlegm? The color of your mucus can be a hint that your lungs may be infected.

Here’s what it means to cough up thick dark brown phlegm from your lungs in the morning, the possible causes of blood specks and treatments.

What does it mean when you cough up brown mucus?

Coughing up brown mucus: Lung cancer and smoking can make you cough strangely colored mucus.
Lung cancer and smoking can make you cough strangely colored mucus.

Mucus is a normal phenomenon of having a chest or cold infection. Although it can be gross, mucus is important as it protects the surface of the mucus making tissues, such as those located in the mouth, sinuses, nose, lungs, GI tract, as well as the throat, to ensure that they will not become dry.

Mucus can come in very many different colors including brown, green, yellow, or clear. When you are coughing up brown specks, you will need to be cautious, as it could mean that you have more than a simple cold.

  • Brown mucus and specks is often brought about by factors such as smoking, inhaling smog or dust, blood arising from the lungs, cocoa, or chocolate.

What about greenish brown mucus?

Your mucus becomes greenish brown when it contains inflammatory cells especially those from leukocytes. Thin greenish coughing up brown mucus may be a result of inflammation of the respiratory tract, allergies, asthma, irritation, or an infection.

SEE ALSO: Coughing up thick dark green mucus and phlegm

Thick greenish yellow mucus is synonymous with an infection—bacterial or viral. It is one of the symptoms associated with bacterial pneumonia, chronic or acute bronchitis.

  • Green mucus often contains pus (this are white blood cells that have been mixed with numerous bacteria) and is often an indication of serious bacterial infection.
  • Greenish brown mucus can be produced when one is suffering from acute bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, as well as atelectasis.

What causes coughing up brown mucus?

Brown phlegm is not always an indication of a serious underlying condition, but it is a good idea to ensure that you consult with your physician. Having this discussion with your physician will help rule out the chances of being infected with a very serious condition.

The following are various of the most frequent causes of brown mucus and phlegm:

1. Smoking

Smoking is one of the known causes of coughing brown phlegm, which is as a result of combining nicotine, resins, and tar. All these accumulate into your lung and bronchial passages.

Coughing up brown phlegm: If you smoke, soot in your lungs can also be present in your cough.
If you smoke, soot in your lungs can also be present in your cough.

If you are a heavy smoker, you will often exhibit symptoms such as brown nails as well as extreme coughing, and an offensive nicotine odor will accompany this.

  • If you are a chain smoker, you may end up with chronic bronchitis, and this may lead to emphysema.
  • It is a condition that is a result of the damage that is brought about by sustained nicotine use, and the smoke that gets into the air sacs present in your lungs.
  • It is a condition, which will make it difficult for a person to receive enough oxygen through their lungs.

When you have this condition, you will need to use inhalers, lung reduction, medications, surgery as well as oxygen therapy and in some cases, you may need to have a lung transplant.

It is consequently recommended that you make the decision to quit smoking today to ensure that you will avoid dealing with the complications that come with it, such as having spitting up brown mucus.

2. Acid Reflux

It is possible that you are coughing up brown phlegm because you have acid reflux. It is something that happens when you regurgitate food, which will, in turn, appear as brown phlegm.

Acid reflux is a true condition especially when you are consuming coffee, chocolate, or red wine. It is vital to mention that if you have acid indigestion, you will not only notice you are coughing up brown mucus, but you may also notice brown bowl mucus. In such a case, it will mean that you have irritable bowel syndrome, hence the need to see your GP.

3. Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps

Brown phlegm is at times an indication of nose bleeding that may be happening because you have nasal polyps.

  • The nasal polyps will often cause constant irritation to your skin surface, especially along the area that lines the nose and the sinuses.

It is something that may eventually lead to nasal bleeding, and a person may end up noticing dried blood in their mucus, that then turns brown.

4. Alcoholics

Excessive use of alcohol will eventually lead to an infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is something that will result in the inflammation of the throat and the lung, and in some cases could be an underlying cause of you coughing up brown phlegm.

When you consume certain alcoholic drinks, there is a chance that you will notice a change in the color of your mucus.

5. Environmental exposure

Is there a chance that you live in an area that is highly polluted? It could be the reason why your mucus is brown in color. After cleaning a room that was extremely dusty, you may also end up coughing up brown mucus.

  • The tiny dust particles may enter your throat and start accumulating there.
  • This will, in the end, turn your mucus into either a brownish or grayish color.

However, this will only be a temporary condition and will be resolved when you change your environment.

6. Lung infections

Serious causes of brown phlegm include respiratory or lung infections. When this happens, there is a high probability that you will end up producing more mucus, or end up with a respiratory infection.

  • Infections are common when a bacterium is trapped in your nasal cavity, or when there is foreign matter present in the area.
  • Brown phlegm may also be a symptom of chronic
  • It could also be an indication of another serious infection such as lung cancer or emphysema.

Other causes of brown blood specks in mucus include strep throat, lung cancer, quitting smoking and after tonsillectomy surgery.

SEE ALSO:  Wet Chronic Cough after Eating Causes, Treatment

Coughing up thick brown mucus in the morning

Coughing up brown mucus: Bronchitis can lead to brown phlegm in throat and nose.
Bronchitis can lead to brown phlegm in throat and nose.

Smokers tend to produce thick brown phlegm, which in most cases comes out combined with saliva, which has a grainy texture.

  • When you smoke too much, your phlegm will eventually turn thick and brown as a result of all the tar, resin and other particulates that are present in cigarettes.
  • According to Exline, your body will at one point or another try to cough up all this foreign matter, and this will result in you coughing up brown mucus.

If you are not a smoker, you may cough up thick brown phlegm in the morning because of the foods that you are consuming. Several of the food items that have been known to cause this problem include

  • Red wine
  • Chocolate
  • And coffee.

Related Symptoms

Some of the related symptoms you may notice when coughing up brown phlegm include:

  1. Bleeding nose accompanied by brown spots or specks in the mucus
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Sore throat
  4. Coughing up dark brown mucus from the lungs and chest pain. This may look like dark brown clots.

Home Remedies for Coughing Up Brown Mucus

Do you feel as though your nasal cavity or throat is blocked? Feeling annoyed with frequent bouts of coughing and sneezing. These symptoms point towards having phlegm in your throat and nose.

Symptoms that may lead to grave fitness conditions include fever, difficulty breathing, and having a runny nose. Even though phlegm is not dangerous, it may end up clogging your bronchial tubes, and this may cause secondary upper respiratory tract infection.

Issues such as viral infections, excessive smoking, flu, as well as colds often cause phlegm. It is something that can be very uncomfortable as well as irritating. The good news is that some innate remedies and herbs can be used to cure this condition. Here are home remedies for brown mucus and phlegm.

1. Ginger and Honey

Ginger is known to contain many medicinal properties that can be used to treat a number of conditions. The compounds that are present in it will help minimize the symptoms associated with coughs, cold, and at the same time help soothe your respiratory system.

  1. Take a hundred grams of fresh ginger root and carefully remove the outer skin.
  2. Proceed to crush the ginger root.
  3. Scoop two teaspoons of raw honey and add it to the crushed root.
  4. Microwave it for at least twenty seconds.
  5. Ensure you take at least two teaspoons of the concoction.
  6. You should ensure that you consume it at least two times a day, for the next three days.

2. Pepper

Pepper can help treat throat infections that may be causing the dark brown phlegm or even greenish mucus. If you suffer from mucus buildup in the throat and nasal passages, cayenne pepper can make your respirator system to release it.

  1. Take half a teaspoon of white pepper and grind it gently
  2. Add a single teaspoon of honey to the ground
  3. Take the combination and microwave it for at least ten seconds
  4. Proceed to chomp it

Once consumed, you should feel instant relief. It is recommended that you take the mixture at least three times each day, for the next one week.

3. Chickpea powder

According to Natural Home Remedies for Life, “chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent some of a cold’s nasty side effects, and one of them happens to be coughing. Chicken soup also contains cysteine, an ingredient that makes phlegm thinner

Scoop a single teaspoon of oil and place it in a pan, together with three teaspoons of chickpea powder. You will need to fry this blend until it starts to turn brown.

When this happens, add a single teaspoon of honey together with powdered almonds into it. You will also need to add thirty ounces of regular water.

Gently stir it before removing it from the heat. Make it a point to consume the concoction two times each day, for the next five to six days.

4. Onion and Lemon

Combining onions and lemons have also been known to help deal with the mucus that has turned brownish in color.

  1. Take an onion and peel it
  2. Place it in a grinder
  3. Take a lemon and press its liquid into the onion juice
  4. Take this blend and pour it into a single cup of boiling water
  5. Allow it to boil for at least three minutes
  6. Remove the blend from the heat, and add a single tablespoon of honey, until this mixture cools down
  7. You will need to drink a single cup of this concoction three times each day until you start to feel some relief

5. Grape Juice

Grapes have for a long time been known to be expectorant. It is something that helps in soothing your lungs, while at the same time unclogging your phlegm.

  1. You will need to take two teaspoons of grape juice, and add them to two tablespoons of honey
  2. Ensure you take this concoction at least three times each day

6. Lemon Tea

Lemon contains citric acid, which comes with antiseptic properties. When combined with honey, it will help loosen your phlegm, while at the same time helping soothe your dry throat.

When making the tea, you will need to add a single teaspoon of honey and lemon juice to it.

7. Salt Water

Gargling with warm salt water has always been known to help with such problems. Warm salt water is vital in clearing your throat


  1. Warm a single glass of water
  2. Add a single teaspoon of table salt
  3. Gently tilt your head backward and proceed to gargle with warm water
  4. Ensure you do not swallow the water
  5. Gargle for a few minutes, and you will start to feel better

8. Garlic and Lime

When combined, garlic and lime contains citric acid, which contains anti-inflammatory properties. The properties will help in clearing your phlegm.


  1. Boil a single cup of water
  2. Squeeze four lemons into the water
  3. squash two garlic cloves and add them to the mixture
  4. Add half teaspoon of black pepper powder, and a single pinch of salt
  5. Gently stir all these ingredients

This remedy has been known to provide instant relief from all symptoms

9. Chicken Soup

Hot chicken soup is a good remedy for not only treating your phlegm but for moisturizing your airway as well.

The warm soup will help in thinning your mucus, while at the same time ensuring that you have consistent phlegm.

  1. Prepare the soup and drink it at least two times each day
  2. You may also consider adding ginger and garlic to this soup as a way of making it appetizing
SEE ALSO:  Coughing Up Yellow Mucus from Chest, in the Morning, Meaning, Treatment

10. Shallots

Shallots contain sulfur, which plays an important role when it comes to clearing infections. It not only helps in clearing the infection, but it will also reduce the irritation that is present on your mucous membrane


  1. Peel eight shallots and consume them with some sugar

When you start to feel a burning sensation in your airways, this will be an indication that the remedy has started working

11. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper contains stimulating properties that help in reducing phlegm while relieving the irritation present in your throat.


  • Mix a single teaspoon of grated ginger to a single teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • Add a single teaspoon of honey to the blend
  • Add a single teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and two teaspoons of honey
  • Make sure to consume the concoction at least four times each day

You can also use the cayenne pepper while preparing your meals and it will help in eliminating this problem

12. Turmeric

When it comes to curing phlegm, you will find that turmeric is one of the most effective antibiotics that you can use.

It contains curcumin, and therefore acts as an antioxidant, which you can use to treat numerous internal problems.

  • Add a single teaspoon of black pepper and turmeric powder to one glass of warm milk
  • Add a single teaspoon of honey to the blend
  • Ensure you drink this concoction on a daily basis
  • Alternatively, you can mix two teaspoons of turmeric powder with a single teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • Ensure they are properly mixed before consuming the concoction

13. Anise Seed

You can use anise seed to cure phlegm.


  • Boil two cups of water
  • Proceed to add to crushed anise seed to the water
  • You will need to allow the water to boil for at least thirty minutes. The water should be boiled using a low flame
  • Proceed to strain the concoction
  • Add two cups of honey to the concoction and allow it a few minutes for it to cool down
  • After consuming, you can store the remaining concoction in the refrigerator for use the following day

Apart from the above home remedies, it is also possible for you to use herbal remedies to stop coughing up brown mucus. You can use herbal remedies such as:

14. Wild Cherry Bark

Wild cherry bark is an excellent herbal expectorant, which has been known to help in loosening the phlegm. Once it has loosened it, it will drive it out of the chest, lungs, as well as your throat.

You can also prepare some tea from its aromatic bark, or the powder. Alternatively, you can consume two teaspoons of its syrup.

Note: An expectant woman should not use this herbal remedy. In addition, ensure that you do not use the remedy for more than a few days, as it can be injurious to your health

15. Spikenard Root

The root contains depurative, diaphoretic, and antiseptic properties. You will need to use the root to prepare some herbal tea.

Once ready, ensure you drink it for at least three times each day. Alternatively, you can choose to gargle this concoction a few times each day.

Note: If you are pregnant, do not drink this concoction

16. Bay Leaf

Bay leaf is another herbal remedy that can be used in treating phlegm. What you need to do is boil a handful of fresh bay leaves in a single cup of boiling water.

You will need to allow the leaves a few minutes for them to get soaked. Once they have been soaked, strain them, and then consume the concoction. It should provide instant relief from all your symptoms.

17. Couch Grass

Couch grass contains properties such as fiber, selenium, vitamins, as well as calcium. Given that it is high in antibacterial properties, it will help in soothing your throat, while at the same time helping clear the phlegm.

It makes the phlegm slippery, and easier to expel from the body.


  • Ensure you use a humidifier
  • To help slack the phlegm, you will need to use steam inhalation
  • Ensure that your body is properly hydrated
  • Make it a point to consume hot beverages on a regular basis
  • You will also need to blow your nose regularly


  • Stay away from dairy products, excessive sugar, meat, and food items that have been highly processed
  • Do not drink or smoke
  • Do not swallow the phlegm
  • Ensure you do not drink too many cold drinks or eat cold foods
  • Do not overlook the urge to blow or cough out the mucus
  • Do not expose your body to chemicals, paint fumes, and household cleaners, which may cause irritation to the respiratory tract

Treatment for Coughing Up Brown Phlegm from Lungs

Therapy is vital for any person that is coughing up brown phlegm. Medicine is one of the choices available, although there are additional treatments that can be used with phlegm. Before considering any treatment, you will need to ensure that you stop smoking altogether.

  • If the brown mucus has been caused by a sinus infection, a chill, or the flu, consider using a nasal spray or a decongestant.
  • An expectorant may also come in handy in helping you loosen the phlegm. Someone suffering from a chest chilly or bronchitis can use it. It is important to note that cough suppressants and expectorants are different things. Expectorants are prescribed when the person who has been affected has a cough that is productive. You should not use cough suppressants when your intention is to do away with the brown mucus.
  • When it comes to non-productive coughs, you can handle them using cough suppressants
  • It is recommended that you reasonably spit the phlegm into a tissue instead of having to swallow it. When you swallow the phlegm, you end up reintroducing it into your pulmonary system.

Normally, the lungs and respiratory components are sterile in nature. Therefore, when you cough up brown mucus, this is an indication that there is an infection within some of the elements present in your respiratory system, which may be caused by a chill, sinus infection, bronchitis, lung infections, or the presence of irritants in the body.

Coughing up any color of mucus normally happens in the morning, and it is recommended that you use the above home remedies to help clear the mucus. If the remedies do not work for you, consider visiting your GP for a proper diagnosis.


  1. http://www.healthhype.com/mucus-causes-of-white-yellow-brown-grey-black-phlegm.html
  2. http://www.phaa.com/coughing-up-phlegm-mucus-sputum-from-the-chest.htm
  3. http://healthylifemed.com/coughing-up-brown-mucus/
  4. https://www.sinuswars.com/mucus-brown.asp
  5. http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com/remedy/Phlegm.html
  6. https://chestcough.blogspot.com/2015/01/coughing-up-brown-mucus.html

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