Understanding Throat Mucus Causes and Home Remedies

In this informative discussion, Dr. Reddy, Dr. Undavia, and Dr. Smith discuss throat mucus, exploring its various causes and offering practical home remedies for relief. From hydration techniques to herbal supplements, as they provide tips and tricks into managing this common throat discomfort.

What you’ll learn

  • The different sources of throat mucus: stomach, lungs, or nasal passages
  • Importance of hydration in thinning out thick mucus and facilitating its clearance
  • Home remedies such as saline irrigation, honey, chicken noodle soup, and menthol for symptom relief

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Listen to the audio version below.

Audio Transcript:

Dr. Smith: So water is one thing. So hydration, but even like humidification. So, making sure, especially in these cold, dry winter months, when viruses are abundant, you get these mucus production and it’s just dry in the air. You’re sleeping sometimes with the mouth open cause you can’t breathe through your nose, which makes the mucus even drier because your mouth is not a good humidifier, which we’ve talked about before. But so increasing the humidification within your room or where you’re sleeping can have significant improvements.

Dr. Reddy: Hey guys, welcome back to another episode. Today we will be discussing mucus in your throat and specific home remedies that we can consider to try to get that mucus better. So first let’s just talk a little bit just briefly about mucus in your throat. What is, what can cause mucus in the throat and what, you know, where does it come from?

Dr. Smith: Yep. So I typically try to break these down when I have a patient in my office. And again, I harp on this every time, but history gives us a lot of information. And so I try to figure out, is it something that the patient is only feeling in the bottom of the throat? So are they trying to clear their throat frequently, bringing something up? So, cause sometimes those can be indicative more reflux type conditions that can trigger this, throat mucus, or is it something that they’re pulling back from the back of their nose? Like they feel like they’re snorting things back down the back of their throat. And that can be indicative of more of like a rhinitis or a head cold sinus type of condition. And so I try to delineate between these like post nasal drip conditions, I will call them where, where is the mucus coming from and is it just the normal amount of mucus, but you’re feeling more of it down here because maybe there’s a reflux component is it just an overabundance of mucus production coming from the nose? And then sometimes of course they’ll be both and then the other thing I ask frequently is like, well, how long has it been going on? Is this an acute process like this? Has it only been going on for a couple days, even up to a week or two? Or is this a chronic process, something that’s been going on for four to six weeks or more? And that sometimes will give us some insight too. So I try to break it down into a couple causes because the treatments for those are gonna be a bit different. And we’ll talk about some different like home options today or some home remedies that you can try to do to try to combat some of that mucus production and improvement of the clearance of it.

Dr. Reddy: Yeah, I think for today, what we’ll focus on is, I think most people when they think of home remedies for mucus in the throat, it happens after a cold or a sinus infection or exposure to a virus, and all of a sudden they feel this mucus in their throat and they’re just kind of miserable. And people just wanna know, what can they do just at home before they go to the drug store or to a doctor, right? And I think one of the common things you can, easiest thing you can do is just hydration. Dr. Undavia, I wanna go over that.

Dr. Undavia: Can I just go back to what you said for a second, which is, you know, it is important to figure out what is causing this feeling of mucus in your throat. So Dr. Smith went over things that could be from your stomach. So if this is the central location and he was talking about whether something’s coming up from the bottom or something’s coming down from the top. From the bottom, you could also not only just have stomach, maybe lungs too. So if there’s a cough associated with it, it’s usually from the lungs, maybe, maybe. But then Dr. Reddy was talking about some of the home remedies that we could do. Maybe we break it up into one of those three categories. So if we’re not able to, even if you’re able to pick it up or if you’re not able to pick it up, just doing things to clear out the mucus, like drinking water. Everybody says drink eight ounces of water.

I’m sorry, eight cups of water at least per day. You can drink more. And you drink more and you just clear out the mucus.

Dr. Reddy: Yeah, and what does hydration do to the mucus quality?

Dr. Undavia: It’s just thinning it out. So it just, it slips down into your esophagus and into your stomach a little bit easier.

Dr. Reddy: Yeah, so oftentimes the big problem that people have is not just the mucus, but the really thick mucus. That kind of just hangs out there. And so I think water just helps thin it out.

Dr. Smith: Right. Yeah. The more dehydrated you are, the more thick, sticky, crusty it gets. And it can sometimes get stuck back there and lay back there. So water is one thing. So hydration, but even like humidification. So, making sure, especially in these cold, dry winter months, when viruses are abundant, you get these mucus production and it’s just dry in the air. You’re sleeping sometimes with the mouth open cause you can’t breathe through your nose, which makes the mucus even drier because your mouth is not a good humidifier, which we’ve talked about before. But so increasing the humidification within your room or where you’re sleeping can have significant improvements. You can even do little personal humidifiers like little steamers or cool mist humidifiers that can help increase the vapor and the moisture vapor in the throat, which can then help you expectorate or thin the mucus out as well.

Dr. Undavia: Should it be cold? Should it be cold, the humidification or is it temperature?

Dr. Smith: Temperature does matter, you know, if you don’t necessarily always want warm moisture because you can actually burn and be getting it into the trachea and the lungs. So cool mist typically is a little bit easier for patients to tolerate. Doesn’t have as much irritation in the throat as well.

Dr. Reddy: Yeah, I am a big fan of those personal face mask steam inhalers. And Vicks is a company that makes one. They have these steam inhalers, you put the water in there. You put a little bit of Vicks and the menthol and the Vicks kind of helps just open things up in your sinuses. And the humidification helps thin the mucus, but it also allows the natural lining of your nose and sinuses to work better.

Dr. Smith: The self-cleansing.

Dr. Reddy: The self-cleansing mechanism. So there’s, you know, your nose and sinuses have a natural conveyor belt system that cleans out mucus and cleans out viruses and bacteria and humidification helps it work better. And the old school way of doing this, where your grandparents maybe taught you how to do it, is just get a pot of boiling water. Towel over the head. But that’s sometimes unsafe, so the personal steam inhalers can be very helpful.

Dr. Undavia: Along the same lines of hydration, besides just drinking water, if you think it’s coming from your nose, put some saline in your nose. It really does hydrate whatever mucus is kind of stuck in making you feel like you have something there and washes it down. The one thing the three of us will tell you is do not use plain water. It will make you feel much worse. You’ve got to use something that has a salt content in it.

Dr. Reddy: I think overall I would venture to say that a good saline irrigation is probably the best medication slash treatment for most ear, nose, and throat conditions.

Dr. Smith: Yeah with congestion stuffy dryness. It helps with all those things. Yeah, so that’s good.

Dr. Reddy: How about I know you’re a big fan of honey.

Dr: Smith: Yes. Yeah, honey Yeah, honey can help you know coats the lining of the throat can help bring moisture into the In as well to help loosen things up so it helps with cough You know, so for a lot of times with kids that have this kind of chronic thick wet cough, the honey can help a lot with that to try to thin some of that mucus out and get things improved. Yep, so in some quantities it’s bactericidal which can help decrease. And if there is an allergic component, there is some, if it’s local honey, there’s some immune properties to it that can help with people with chronic allergy type mucus production as well. But it’s one of the things that’s safe and easy to use in kids for as a mucolytic is honey. Typically we caution not to use it under the age of one, depending on the type of honey. But in kids over the age of one, honey is safe. And in adults sometimes, you know, kind of one of those old remedies is honey and tea. Just the warm water and the honey sometimes can help move things along.

Dr. Reddy: Yep. How about chicken noodle soup? What do you think?

Dr. Undavia: I don’t know. I don’t have strong feelings.

Dr. Reddy: Well, you know, I think there’s some evidence that salt water, chicken noodle soup or salt water gargles or anything like that can be helpful. And not only just mechanically just washes away the mucus, but the high salt content may pull decreased edema, decreased swelling in the back of your throat or the back of your nose and just helps more room for the mucus to kind of travel through. So I think there is some evidence that it can be helpful. Um, and then the other big one that a lot of people like to use is menthol, right? And menthol is a lot of different formulations that you can get at, from home, people usually have like Vicks at home that they use.

Dr. Smith: Mentholated cough drops.

Dr. Reddy: Yep. Mentholated cough drops. But menthol has been around for what? Thousands of years.

Dr. Smith: Yeah. Right.

Dr. Reddy: And it’s one of the oldest decongestants that are available, um,that mankind has been using for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Anything else, to add?

Dr. Undavia: I mean, I don’t know if this counts as a home remedy, like Mucinex, it’s over the counter. It’s easy. It just supposed it’s basically like taking a hydrating pill and it just hydrates you up to eight times the volume of the water that you already have. So it can really thin out mucus even more.
Dr. Reddy: Yeah. Okay. And it doesn’t react with any of your medications, so long as you just take plain mucinex.

Dr. Reddy: Good anything else to add?

Dr. Undavia: I did a quick literature search before we started, which is Google. And they have all sorts of different teas on there, too. I don’t know.

Dr. Smith: Yeah, some people will use like licorice or anise

Dr. Undavia: Licorice was up there. Yep.

Dr. Smith: That’s a common supplement that some people use, the thin mucus. Yeah. It works similar to honey as far as its quality.

Dr. Undavia: Yeah. Great. All right.

Dr. Reddy: I think that’s all we have for today’s episode. Thank you for joining us. All right.

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