phlegm color meaning, feature image

Phlegm Color Meaning: the Ultimate Guide

Phlegm or sputum is the mucus produced by the mucous membranes of the respiratory ducts below the nasal passages such as the lungs and bronchus. It is used to expel foreign bodies such as dust, viruses, and allergens from the body. The phlegm may also be coughed up by coughing reactions due to upper respiratory tract infections.

Staff like sputum looks really dirty and disgusting, and maybe all people would like to keep away from it. However, from the modern medical point of view, sputum is one of the important signs of lung health. In the traditional Chinese medicine community, there has always been a saying that “lung is the reservoir of phlegm”, which deserves our special attention.

It is not only the traditional Chinese medicine’s viewpoint but also held by the modern medicine domain. Modern medicine believes that the essence of phlegm is respiratory secretions. In the process of formation, the dust, bacteria, impurities, and other stuff will together adhere to the respiratory tract and lungs, and eventually, we spit it out of the mouth. It is precise because of a series of formation processes, sputum is said to be a “barometer” of lung health. It is not overstated and underestimated.

Sputum is the secretion of the human respiratory tract. It is pushed from the lungs to the respiratory tract by the movement of bronchial cilia. Finally, it is coughed out from the trachea through the normal cough reflex of humans.

Sputum is actually pus liquid in the lungs, and bacteria are contained in the pus. When people breathe dirty stuff, it gets especially “processed” in the body’s airways and is eventually expelled by coughing. So even healthy people spit dirty sputum. And lot of cough and spit people are often suffering from a variety of diseases, their sputum in the presence of more disease-causing substances.

Phlegm is a barometer of lung health

1. The location of the phlegm

There is no doubt that the location of sputum is formed in the respiratory tract, which is divided into the upper respiratory tract and the lower respiratory tract. The lungs are connected to the lower respiratory tract.

Therefore, if there is an abnormal secretion in the lungs, or even blood flow out, the respiratory tract is its only way, which will inevitably adhere to the sputum, affecting the normal physiological state of the sputum, and then used to judge the disease of the lung.

2. How you spit

Spitting, also known as expectoration, is essentially the secretion of pus expelled by a sudden air flow through the lungs and the respiratory tract. On the contrary, if the health of the lungs is impaired, the airflow in the lungs is disturbed, and sputum is difficult to cough out in the normal way. It can also be used to judge whether the lungs are healthy. Not only that, if there is a sore throat and hoarseness when spitting, it indicates that there are certain problems in the respiratory tract, so you need to drink more water and timely recuperation treatment.

3. Phlegm color

This should be one of the most obvious signs of lung health. As mentioned above, the airflow and secretions of the lungs are bound to pass through the respiratory tract and then adhere to the sputum. Different symptoms of lung disease will produce different secretions, so the state of the sputum will change, and the color will also change.

In other words, the sputum color, can therefore be used to identify a range of conditions that may be present in the lungs. The color of sputum mainly has “red, yellow, green, white, gray” five kinds, and different colors of sputum can indicate different lung health situations.

Different phlegm color meanings

As we hear the word phlegm, the first expression is perhaps just one word — “disgusting”, and people just want to spit it out. Afterwards, they never want to look at it. This is wrong! Phlegm must be seen, because its colour may indicate some disease information!

Sputum is the secretion of our human respiratory tract. Healthy people usually have no phlegm or only a small amount of loose phlegm, which is colorless, clear, or off-white. It can keep our respiratory tract moist, and absorb dust, bacteria, and other microorganisms to expel from the body to a certain extent to protect the lungs. However, once respiratory diseases occur, the color, quantity, character, and odor of sputum will also change correspondingly, and different diseases will also show different colors of sputum.

Sputum is one of the most common symptoms of lung disease and ailment. Normal people usually cough with no sputum or only a small amount of white sputum. Due to the decline of organ function or long-term smoke stimulation, the elderly may appear to cough, cough a small number of white sputa, such as cough, excessive sputum, at the same time the color of the sputum changes, that is, indicates the respiratory tract or lung lesions. There are many kinds of sputum color, commonly white, yellow-green, different colors of sputum can see different diseases of the body. For example, green phlegm indicates suppurative inflammation in the body. When you cough up sputum, you may wish to see the color of the sputum, maybe you will feel so disgusting, but it is beneficial to the doctor’s diagnosis of the disease.

Clear phlegm

Clear phlegm is typically normal and indicates that your body is functioning properly. It is produced in the respiratory tract to help moisten and protect the lining of the nose, throat, and lungs. Clear phlegm is often produced in response to allergies or irritation, and can also be caused by changes in the weather or the environment.

If you are producing a large amount of clear phlegm, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to help thin it out and make it easier to cough up. If you are experiencing other symptoms, such as a fever or difficulty breathing, or if you are producing phlegm that is yellow, green, or has blood in it, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause.

Green phlegm

In daily life, when you spit out, and if you find that your sputum is green in color, you need to pay special attention to such phlegm color, and you need to raise your awareness of self-health. Coughing up green phlegm often indicates that your bronchus is in a pathological state, accompanied by bronchitis, bronchiectasis, chest infection, etc., which requires you to be especially vigilant.

phlegm color meaning, green hulk

The situation of green sputum is more special, mostly under the condition of bronchial lesions, because of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. The most common pulmonary disease caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa infection is lobar pneumonia. Patients often also have concomitant immunity decay, a persistent cough, and fever sort of things.

Green phlegm is a sign of a cold or the flu, or it can be caused by the presence of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections. The green color of the phlegm is due to the presence of a pigment called neutrophil, which is produced by white blood cells.

If you are experiencing green phlegm, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause. Other symptoms that may be present in addition to green phlegm include a fever, cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the green phlegm and may include medications to treat the infection or other underlying conditions. It is important to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations to help resolve the issue and improve your overall health.

Yellow phlegm

Yellow phlegm is the most commonly seen condition, usually caused by cold and wind chill. It’s not too serious. Maybe you’ll get better after you go home and drink some water and prescribe some medicine. Yellow phlegm is caused by an infection in the upper respiratory tract or an infection in our throat. Our body’s way of detoxifying the upper respiratory tract is often to cough out germs through coughing, and it will recover after a few days of rest.

Black mucus

The situation of black mucus in the body is relatively serious, and there are certain problems in the lungs in general. The occurrence of black sputum is often either because we work or live in heavily polluted places, and contact with more pollution sources, which will lead to the occurrence of black carbon. Once found that our body appears to cough up black sputum, it is necessary to pay attention to it in time. It may be that the lung has been seriously infected. We should stop working as soon as possible and rush to treatment.

White sputum

The white sputum here refers to the sticky sputum-like foam, in fact, there will not be a serious situation. However, this form of white sputum may indicate a rare alveolar cancer, we all know that the cure rate of cancer is very low, if sticky sputum-like foam is found, it is better to check the condition of the body as soon as possible. Any disease in the early stage is a possible cure, so early detection is very important.

This kind of sputum is more transparent sputum or slightly white, and thinner, generally caused by a cold, or some contact with dust workers (gypsum mine, white ash production), there will be this situation.

Suggestion: If this kind of sputum is caused by the occupation, it is necessary to wear a dust mask when working; If it is caused by a cold, you can go to the hospital for routine blood tests and take medicine as prescribed by the doctor.

Gray phlegm

Most mucous sputum appears gray, or grayish-white, and the texture of sputum is sticky, this is because the bronchus, or lung respiratory tract lesions, secreted more sputum caused by. Such pulmonary lesions and fungal infections are highly likely. The earlier the treatment, the lower the degree of fungal diffusion and distribution, and the higher the success rate of cure. Do not delay.

Rusty phlegm

In our daily life, if the color of the sputum spits out reveals the color of rust, you need to be extremely careful because this color of sputum often indicates lung problems and lesions. In life, you need to pay special attention to pneumonia. In some cases, you need to watch out for pneumococcal infections.

Rust-colored sputum is mostly caused by lobar pneumonia, often accompanied by dyspnea, chest pain, fever, and other symptoms. Common causes are cold, fatigue, rain, drunk, and so on.

Recommendations: Go to the hospital respiratory department in time, chest ct or chest X-ray examination, if it is lobar pneumonia, to follow the doctor’s advice for standard anti-infection treatment.

Pink sputum

If you cough up bubbles of pink-colored sputum, accompanied by shortness of breath that can feel like drowning, this is likely a sign of pulmonary edema, which occurs when heart failure causes the lungs to fill with fluid.

Pink sputum is more common in acute pulmonary edema, acute cardiac insufficiency, heart failure, cough up pink foam-like sputum at night or after fatigue, and may be due to esophageal damage caused by stomach acid.

Red phlegm

We also have a lot of coal mining workers who will cough up red sputum. This is because a large amount of dust has caused great damage to our lungs, which may have led to the appearance of pulmonary tuberculosis in our lungs, or lung abscess and lung cancer. This time to pay more attention to, peacetime travel as much as possible with a mask, can prevent our lungs from inhaling too much dust.

Red sputum generally takes the following two forms:

Sputum with a red bloodline, more in tuberculosis or bronchiectasis, usually pharyngeal inflammation, upper respiratory tract bleeding, and lobar pneumonia early may also appear this situation.

Red or dark red blood sputum may be caused by hemorrhagic diseases, respiratory tract or vascular injury, bronchial lung cancer, pulmonary cavity, bronchiectasis, and other diseases.

Suggestion: timely medical examination, and symptomatic treatment. It is necessary to pay attention to the occurrence of lung cancer if there is blood in the sputum for a long time or accompanied by chest pain and emasmus, especially in people over 40 years old and smoking.

Thick yellow-green phlegm

Indicating suppurative inflammation in the body, which is a severe respiratory infection, bronchitis, or something like that. This is very different from lobar pneumonia caused by pneumococcus. It is suppurative bacteria (common staphylococcus, streptococcus, pseudomonas aeruginosa, etc.) that infect the human body and cause suppuration. Pus is dead white blood cells and necrotic tissue.

Treatment targeted the use of antibiotics, such as cephalosporin antibiotics and so on.

Brown sputum

Many patients in the department of cardiology will cough up brown sputum. This is because the heart function has been greatly damaged, resulting in the virus that has not been metabolized in our body being coughed out through sputum. But that’s not a good thing, because only a small amount of it is coughed up, and most of the rest stays in our bodies and does harm to our health.

How to clear sputum

Phlegm cough, also known as expectoration cough, is the body’s natural way of clearing mucus from the lungs and airways on its own. Phlegm is often associated with colds and other upper respiratory infections. It’s not a serious health problem, but if left unchecked, it can block and irritate the bronchi, leading to secondary upper respiratory infections. Next, I will introduce some effective methods of expectoration, based on professional levels:

1. Drink lots of hot drinks

Hot drinks help loosen the mucus in the chest and nasal passages. Herbal teas, such as lemon and honey, are a great choice. Together with the bactericidal properties of honey, the citric acid in lemons helps loosen phlegm and moisten the throat. Even when making black tea, add a spoonful of fresh lemon and honey.

Step 2: Honey

Honey is a popular home remedy for coughing. In 2007, ABC News reported on a Penn State College of Medicine study that gave people ages 2 to 18 a daily dose of honey before bed and found they slept better and coughed less. Add 2 tablespoons of honey directly to hot water or tea.

3. Eucalyptus oil

Inhaling a little eucalyptus essential oil vapor can help soothe your cough in no time. To do this, add 2–3 drops of eucalyptus oil to the cooking water and breathe in the steam for 10–15 minutes. The following essential oils also work well:

l Tea tree oil — effective antibacterial, expectorant, and antiseptic

l Peppermint oil — helps open nasal passages

l Thyme — super bactericidal, good for colds and flu

4. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar also helps break down mucus in the body and reduces chronic sinusitis and allergies. Because it’s full of potassium, which helps get rid of a runny nose. Add a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to water and drink it three times a day. After a few days, the symptoms will improve. It may not taste great, but the results are well worth the effort.

5. Don’t smoke

The most important thing to do when you have a throat infection is not to smoke. Anything you breathe in affects your airways. Smoke only exacerbates the symptoms of throat infections because it interferes with the body’s natural healing process. Wait until your nose or throat is completely healed, and quit altogether.

6. Percussion cups

Percussion therapy can be used in treating phlegm removal. However, regarding kids and children, many parents choose to use palm chest percussion therapy cup to help remove the sputum from the chests of their children.

When helping remove sputum from babies, hold the baby upright, hold one hand into an empty fist with fingers pinching on the palm percussion therapy cup, and then beat the baby’s front chest and back (the position of the left and right lungs) from bottom to top in order, especially in the lower part of the baby’s back and chest where sputum is more likely to accumulate. Proper force slapping is beneficial to promote the loosening of sputum in the baby’s lungs and bronchus and discharge to the atmospheric tube, so as to achieve the purpose of sputum expulsion.

When the kid coughs up sputum, parents should wipe the sputum around its mouth immediately. If the baby does not cough it up but swallows it down, do not worry too much, because there are many digestive enzymes and acidic liquids in the human digestive tract, which also can sterilize and remove foreign bodies.

A palm percussion cup for physical therapy is a medical device and a physical therapy equipment that is used to help loosen and remove mucus from the respiratory tract. It is a small, flexible cup that fits over the palm of the hand and is used to create vibration and pressure on the chest or back. The cup is typically made of silicone or rubber and is used in combination with vibration and tapping techniques to help loosen and remove mucus from the lungs and bronchial tubes.

For more techniques on how to use the percussion cup to help children clear the mucus accumulated in their lungs, check the video about airway clearance techniques on Youtube.

In a nutshell

Phlegm, as the secretion of the human body, directly reflects the condition of the respiratory system. Healthy people generally have less sputum or do not cough sputum. If they cough up sputum for a long time, they should go to the hospital in time for relevant examinations.

Here are some general guidelines for interpreting the color of your phlegm:

  • Clear sputum: Clear phlegm is normal and usually means that your body is functioning properly.
  • White mucus: White phlegm can be caused by allergies or a sinus infection.
  • Yellow or green phlegm: Yellow or green phlegm can be a sign of an infection, such as a cold or the flu. It can also be caused by the presence of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections.
  • Red or pink: Red or pink phlegm may indicate the presence of blood in the mucus. This can be caused by a number of factors, including a sinus infection, bronchitis, or even lung cancer. If you are experiencing red or pink phlegm, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause.
  • Brown or black: Brown or black phlegm can be caused by the inhalation of smoke or other pollutants. It can also be a sign of a more serious condition, such as lung cancer or pneumonia. If you are experiencing brown or black phlegm, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause.

It is important to note that the color of phlegm is just one factor that healthcare providers consider when diagnosing an illness. Other factors, such as the presence of other symptoms and a person’s medical history, are also important in making a diagnosis.

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