What are the signs of phlegm problems?

Phlegm is a thick, slippery and sticky substance produced by the throat, bronchial passages, and lungs. Phlegm, also called sputum, contains mucus and sometimes other substances, such as dead cells, pus, or foreign particles, including dust. You may not notice that you produce much phlegm unless you cough due to a respiratory infection, such as pneumonia, or if you have certain other diseases or conditions in which the body produces abnormal amounts or types of phlegm, such as cystic fibrosis and asthma.

Phlegm may be described as abnormally thick or frothy, and clear, yellow or green in color. Phlegm can also contain visible amounts of blood or may be pink in color. In some cases, it may be difficult for you to clear your breathing passages by coughing due to extremely thick phlegm.

Abnormal phlegm symptoms can be caused by a large variety of mild to serious health problems, including infections, malignancy, inflammation, allergy, trauma, medications, and airway obstruction. For example, phlegm may be caused by exposure to smoke, consuming certain foods, such as dairy products, or taking certain medications.

In some cases, p hlegm symptoms can be a sign of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lung cancer. Seek prompt medical care if you are coughing up or producing large amounts of phlegm, or if your phlegm is unusual, persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have difficulty breathing; chest pain; shortness of breath; swelling of the throat, mouth or face; or are coughing up bloody, pink and frothy phlegm.


What other symptoms might occur with phlegm symptoms?

Phlegm symptoms may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. For example, you may have a fever and body aches if your phlegm symptoms are caused by an infection.

Symptoms of an infection that can occur with phlegm symptoms

Infectious ... Read more about phlegm symptomssymptoms


What causes phlegm symptoms?

Phlegm is generally associated with diseases, disorders and conditions of the respiratory system, including the nose, throat, windpipe (trachea), bronchial tubes, and lungs, but can also be caused by conditions of the upper digestive tract and the cardiovascular system, such as congestive heart failure.
Read more about phlegm symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Ear, Nose and Throat

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