Why am I coughing up yellow mucus? What does it mean when you cough up thick dark yellow mucus in the morning? Yellowish green mucus with a sore throat, no fever, and blood in phlegm can mean pneumonia, bronchitis or another type of infection in the chest or sinuses. Here are the causes and treatment for coughing up yellow phlegm.
In a healthy individual, mucus is supposed to be clear and transparent in appearance. As such, if you find yourself coughing up yellow mucus, it could mean that you have a bacterial infection. In many cases, the initial sign that you are infected will be coughing up mucus that is not clear.
It also acts as an indication that the immune system in your body is fighting the bacterial infection. For you to do away with this symptom, you will need to first determine what caused it. In this article, we are going to look at the causes of coughing up yellow mucus, as well as the numerous home remedies and treatments that you can try in order to get back the clear and transparent mucus you are used to seeing.
Table of Contents
- Why does the body need mucus?
- What does it mean coughing up yellow mucus?
- Coughing up yellow mucus from the chest
- Coughing up yellow mucus in the morning
- Coughing up yellow mucus with blood
- Coughing yellow mucus with no fever
- Green yellow mucus cough with a sore throat
- How to get rid of the yellow mucus
Why does the body need mucus?
Coughing up yellowish looking mucus is something that has the potential to put any person on the edge, and may even lead to this person believing that the yellowish looking mucus has been brought about by viral or bacterial infection. Even though it is true that varying mucus shades can be brought about by germ related causes, this is not always the case for all individuals.
Chest and throat mucus is used by the body in an attempt to remain lubricated and healthy. For example, excessive yelling and screaming could result in the formation of additional mucus, which may end up building up in your throat. Additionally, smoking could also lead to the creation of very dry conditions in your larynx, which will also lead to the production of excess mucus.
What does it mean coughing up yellow mucus?
As mentioned earlier, if you notice yellow or green mucus, it means that the body is trying to fight off an infection. The change in the color of your mucus can be attributed to the white blood cells that are present in your body. Initially, you could notice yellowish mucus, which then turns green. Mucus changes color depending on the length and severity of your sickness.
Yellow or green mucus is mainly caused by:
It often begins as a dry cough, before you notice the appearance of white or clear mucus. As time passes by, there is a chance that you will start coughing up green or yellow mucus. This is often an indication that your infection has started progressing from a viral one to a bacterial one. If you have a cough, it could last for as long as ninety days. Apart from coughing, additional symptoms include:
- A sore throat
One of the best natural remedies to use when dealing with a case of bronchitis is inhalation of steamy and warm air. To assist in relieving the symptoms, you can infuse this air with a few drops of eucalyptus oil, as this will help you heal at a much faster pace.
Normally, pneumonia occurs when there is a complication in your respiratory system. When you have pneumonia, you are most likely going to find yourself coughing up mucus that is green, yellowish, and which is at times accompanied by drops of blood. The symptoms associated with pneumonia vary depending on the particular type of pneumonia that the person has in his body. Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- A cough
3. Sinus infection
It is also referred to as sinusitis. The condition can be caused by bacteria, allergies, as well as viruses. If a bacterial infection is a primary cause, you will notice green or yellow mucus, a pressure in the sinus cavities, post nasal drip, as well as nasal congestion.
For one to be able to ease the symptoms that are associated with this condition, it is recommended that a person takes lots of water. Additionally, you can also try out nasal irrigation.
See also: Coughing up brown mucus
4. Cystic fibrosis
This condition is categorized as a chronic lung disease where mucus starts to build up inside your lungs. Normally, the condition is known to only affect small children as well as young adults. A person with this condition will notice a variety of mucus colors ranging between yellow, green, and brown.
An allergic reaction is another common cause for a person coughing up yellow looking mucus. There are very many people in the world who happen to be allergic to the skin dander found in certain animals, as well as pollen. Being exposed to these allergens may lead to a person developing a cough or even having to deal with yellow colored mucus.
People with asthma may experience extended coughing fits. These coughing fits are in many cases accompanied by the production of colored mucus. Asthma has been known to cause the inflammation of the respiratory system, and can, therefore, lead to the creation of excess yellow colored mucus. This colored mucus is in many cases created by inflammatory cells located in the body. Additional asthma symptoms include:
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
7. Lung cancer
Lung cancer is one of the most serious factors that can lead to coughing up yellow colored mucus. If you have been coughing for more than two weeks and have been experiencing chest pain, which has not been improving, you are advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Another symptom that you need to be on the lookout for will be for the presence of a pinkish color in the mucus as well as checking whether your mucus has become infused with blood.
8. Flu or cold
One of the most common symptoms of the flu or cold is the appearance of pale yellow or clear mucus. Flu and cold are considered to be common causes of phlegmy cold, more so if there are no additional symptoms.
Coughing up yellow mucus from the chest
An infection of the chest is very common, particularly after the flu or cold, or during the winter and autumn seasons. Even though most chest infections tend to be mild and often disappear on their own, there are those that are of a more serious nature, which tend to be life-threatening in most cases.
Chest infection signs and symptoms
The primary symptoms include:
- A cough that will not go away
- Shallow breathing or breathlessness
- Fever (high temperature)
- Coughing up green or yellow mucus or coughing blood
- Chest tightness or pain
- Presence of rapid heartbeats
- Disorientation or feeling confused
In some cases, you could also experience general infection symptoms, which include sweating, fatigue, headaches, or muscle and joint pains.
Primary causes of chest infections
Chest infections can best be defined as an infection of the airways or the lungs. Common types of chest infections include pneumonia and bronchitis. Often, many bronchitis cases are brought about by viruses whereas, in the case of pneumonia, bacterial infections are the main causes.
For these infections to be spread, an infected person has to sneeze or cough, which then launches small fluid droplets that contain the virus. The droplets are launched into the air, which means that they can easily be breathed in by people who are nearby.
It is also possible for the bacteria to be spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs into his hand, on a surface or subject, before proceeding to shake another person’s hand, who then touch their noses or mouths. There are certain groups of individuals who are at a higher risk of getting a chest infection. They include:
- Young children and babies
- Infants who have development problems
- Overweight individuals
- Pregnant women
- The elderly
- Any individual with a long-term health condition e.g. diabetes, asthma, kidney disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or cystic fibrosis
- Any person who has an immune system that has become highly compromised—the immune system could have been compromised by chemotherapy, a recent sickness, a transplant, usage of high-dose steroids, as well as an HIV infection that has not yet been diagnosed.
How to prevent a chest infection?
You can take several measures, which will assist in reducing the risk of developing this kind of infection, as well as ensuring that you do not pass this infection to others. Some of the measures that you practice at home include:
Stop or cut back on smoking
For smokers, the best thing that they can do to ensure that they do not get a chest infection would be to cease smoking altogether. Habitual smoking has been known to play a role in damaging the lungs, as well as weakening the immune system, making it incapable of fighting off infections.
Practice proper hygiene
Even though an infection of the chest is not as contagious as the other common types of infections such as the flu, it is still possible for you to pass on this infection to other people by sneezing and coughing. As such, it is imperative to make sure that you cover your mouth whenever you need to sneeze or a cough. Additionally, it will be important to wash your hands on a regular basis, as well as ensure that the tissues you use are placed in the bin immediately after use.
Diet and alcohol
Prolonged and excessive alcohol misuse is capable of weakening the lung’s natural defenses against infections, which will make them more vulnerable to getting a chest infection. According to the NHS, you can keep your risk of getting alcohol-related harm low by ensuring that you do not take more than fourteen alcohol units in a single week. You can also consider doing the following:
- If you have to drink more than fourteen alcohol units in a single week, make sure that you spread them evenly over four or more days
- For those that want to reduce the amount of alcohol that they consume, they need to consider having a few alcohol free days in a week.
Frequent or regular drinking implies taking alcohol in most days. You get to increase your health risks by consuming high amounts of alcohol on a daily basis. It is possible to strengthen your immune system by eating a diet that is healthy and well balanced. An enhanced immune system is vital as it ensures that you are less vulnerable to getting a chest infection.
In case you are at risk of developing a chest related infection, the general practitioner could recommend that you become vaccinated against pneumococcal infections as well as the flu. This kind of vaccination will come in handy in reducing the chances of you getting a chest infection. Pneumococcal and flu vaccinations are mainly recommended for:
- Women who are pregnant
- Young children and infants
- Individuals who are above the age of sixty-five years
- Individuals with weakened immune systems or those that have long-term health conditions
Coughing up yellow mucus in the morning
Coughing up yellowish mucus every morning can be caused by varying short and long-term health conditions affecting your lungs. Individuals that have a productive cough will often experience severe coughing fits each morning. The reason for this is because the cough reflex is in many cases suppressed while they are sleeping, and this could result in mucus accumulation during the sleeping hours.
Whereas dry coughs are known to occur because post-nasal drips from the sinuses or from the nose, productive coughs are mostly brought about by the presence of an abnormality in the lung, which could provoke the production of excess mucus in your airways. There are various circulatory and heart conditions, which could lead to this particular symptom.
- Acute bronchitis
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Pulmonary edema
Important warnings and precautions
It is recommended that you visit your general practitioner as soon as you start experiencing a productive cough, which lasts for more than seven days. You will need to seek emergency medical attention if you were to develop a productive cough, which was accompanied by one or more of the following warning signs:
- Chest pains
- Chills, fever or cold sweats
- Fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness
- Being unable to catch your breath
- Discoloration of nail beds or lips
- Mental fogginess, anxiety, confusion, or agitation
Coughing up yellow mucus with blood
The blood being coughed up with the mucus often comes from within your body. It could be from your digestive system or from the respiratory tract system, which is made up of the lungs, nose, mouth, throat, and the numerous passageways that all lead to your lungs.
In some cases, you will find that yellow mucus with blood happens to be a symptom of a serious underlying medical condition. But, it is important to realize that blood-tinged mucus is a very common occurrence, and should not be a cause for alarm. If you find that you have started coughing up blood that has little or no mucus in it, then you may need to seek immediate medical help.
How to prevent coughing up yellowish mucus that has blood
Blood-stained mucus may at times be an indication that there is an underlying serious medical condition, which you cannot be able to avoid. However, there exist methods that you can use to prevent some of these cases. The first thing you will need to do is to prevent the occurrence of respiratory infections, which tend to be the primary cause of these conditions. Consider doing the following to prevent the occurrence of yellow mucus that has blood:
- Whenever you feel a respiratory infection starting to develop, ensure you drink lots of water. Consuming a lot of water assists in thinning out the mucus as well as in flushing it out from your body
- Ensure that your house is clean, as it is very easy to breathe in dust, which may then contribute to the development of respiratory and chest infections. Mildew and mold have also been known to cause irritation as well as respiratory infections.
Coughing yellow mucus with no fever
The appearance of yellow mucus is a common indication that you may be having bronchitis, which is common after you have had a sinus or cold problem. In many cases, the problem should clear on its own after having plenty of rest and after ensuring that you take in as many liquids as possible. In the event that your mucus starts to thicken, it may become vital for you to consider obtaining over the counter expectorants. Additionally, you will need to ensure that you maintain humidity in your residence as well.
Green yellow mucus cough with a sore throat
According to Dr. Weil, coughing up green yellow mucus is a common symptom of bronchitis. This is a condition where the bronchial tubes in your body become inflamed. When it occurs, bronchitis can either be chronic or acute and in some cases, it is caused by an allergic reaction. Additional symptoms include painful coughs, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
How to get rid of the yellow mucus
Humidify your air
Taking steps to moisturize the air that is around you will come in handy in ensuring that your mucus remains thin and consistent. There is a chance that you have had that inhaling steam assists in clearing up congestion and phlegm. However, instead of using steam as it can cause burns in your body, you should consider making use of a humidifier. A humidifier can be used for a whole day, provided that you make sure to change the water on a regular basis.
Ensure you are hydrated
Consuming enough warm liquids will assist in regulating the flow of your mucus. The water loosens any congestion that is present by enabling the mucus to move about. You can try taking regular sips of clear broth, chicken soup, or even juice. Additional ideal liquid choices will include lemon water and decaffeinated fruit juice
It is important to try and consume drinks and fluids, which contain garlic, lemon, and ginger. There exist anecdotal evidence suggesting that the mentioned ingredients can assist in the treatment of excess mucus, colds, and coughs. Additionally, spicy foods that come with capsaicin e.g. chili peppers and cayenne could also assist in temporarily clearing your sinuses and getting your mucus to move along.