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Cough with transparent phlegm: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Cough with clear phlegm is a common symptom in different respiratory diseases, such as allergies or viral diseases, but it can also be the consequence of the malfunction of other areas of the body, as in the case of gastroesophageal reflux or heart failure. . Therefore, knowing what the cause is will be essential for the treatment to be adequate.

If you want to know a little more about the causes of a cough with clear phlegm and how to improve it both medically and naturally, then continue reading the following article from FastlyHeal .

Causes of cough with clear phlegm

There are numerous reasons why you may be suffering from a cough with clear phlegm, as any irritation at the level of the respiratory tract causes more mucus to be produced and if there is no over-aggregated bacterial infection, there is no reason for the mucus to be thicker. or greenish to yellowish in color. It is important to distinguish if the cough is recent or if you have been suffering from it for more than 1 month.

Among the most common causes of cough with acute clear phlegm are:

Rinofaringitis aguda

viral infection in the nose and throat area can cause you to initially suffer from discomfort and fever, accompanied by nasal congestion and clear nasal discharge. A sore throat usually appears and, later, dysphonia and cough. The cough with transparent phlegm can last between 2 or 3 weeks from the beginning of the picture, but just as it came it should go, except for complications and superinfections.

The coronavirus , generally, does not cause an important picture at the nasal and pharyngeal level, but given the high number of cases it is advisable to consult the number provided by your country so that they advise you of the need or not to carry out the test that detects COVID- 19.

Viral pneumonia

In this case, in addition to the general malaise and fever, there may be a dry cough or with transparent secretions , a lot of decay and shortness of breath. Let us remember that it can be a symptom of coronavirus, which is why it is also important to consult the telephone number assigned by each country and community.

Acute bronchitis

When the viral upper airway (or rhinopharyngitis) does not resolve adequately, it can be complicated by acute bronchitis. As its name suggests, it is an inflammation at the level of the bronchi , which is where the different lung ducts branch out. In addition to coughing and clear phlegm, the discharge may turn yellow / green, especially when it accumulates over a long period of time.


The exaggerated reaction of the body to some substances that are harmless to others causes the respiratory system to be irritated, itchy eyes and nose appear, sneezing, cough with transparent phlegm or dry cough, bronchospasm, dysphonia. It usually occurs in acute but recurring pictures , that is, you can suffer them often.

Pharyngeal foreign body

Due to the permanence of some type of element (thorn, oregano twig, for example) in the pharynx, the mucosa reacts producing clear secretions and coughing . It usually starts abruptly, during the meal. You should urgently consult a doctor, since it is possible to aspirate the foreign body into the airway.

Heart failure

While it is rare to cause a cough with clear mucus, it can occur. It is a chronic problem of the heart in which the heart does not pump properly. Among the most common symptoms of heart failure are: tiredness, shortness of breath, leg swelling, difficulty exerting yourself.

Among the causes of chronic cough with transparent phlegm , we can mention:

Gastroesophageal reflux

When eating habits cause the acid produced in the stomach to rise to areas that are not used to it (esophagus, pharynx, larynx, nasal passages), a series of symptoms related to that irritation can be triggered : a sensation of having something in the stomach. throat, notice that something acid rises up the throat, hoarseness, hoarseness, cough with transparent secretions.


The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease usually occurs in people who smoke and is characterized by cough suffer with secretions (initially, in the morning, then can spread throughout the day). The secretions can be clear, although they can also take on a yellow-greenish color, suffocation usually appears and with time the ability to lead a normal life is lost.

Diets rich in dairy and gluten

There is increasing evidence that these two food groups cause inflammation in the body. They are far from being healthy, but rather the opposite. It is convenient to provide calcium from healthier sources such as oranges, seeds or oregano and replace white flour with whole wheat and gluten-free.

Lung cancer

The chronic cough is a common symptom of a lung cancer may appear clear phlegm, although the evolution of this disorder may lead to secretions are bloody.

Cough with clear phlegm: medical treatment

As a first measure, it is important to diagnose the cause that is producing the cough with transparent phlegm, since according to this it will be the behavior that the professional adopts. To achieve this, a good questioning must be made to know how long you have suffered from the cough, what the characteristics of it are, if it occurs at any specific time of the day or if it is accompanied by other symptoms. In addition, a complete physical examination should be performed. Based on this, different studies can be requested such as:

  • Chest X-ray.
  • Fibroscopy.
  • Computed tomography
  • Spirometry
  • Blood test.

With all these data and once a possible conclusion is reached, treatment can be attempted depending on the case:

  • Viral disease : symptom management, antiviral drugs as appropriate.
  • Acute bronchitis : generally, it improves on its own in about two weeks, but your doctor may decide to indicate antibiotics depending on the case. It is important to steam and drink enough water so secretions can be easily expelled.
  • Allergy : antihistamines, corticosteroids through the nose or by mouth if necessary.
  • Foreign body : must be removed urgently.
  • Heart failure : further studies may be required if this is suspected. Drugs will be indicated according to the type of heart failure and a healthier diet.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux : although there are drugs that help reduce the amount of acid produced by the body, a change in eating habits is more than important (do not lie down immediately after eating but wait at least 3 hours, do not drink water or drinks along with food, avoid highly spicy foods, do not smoke, do not drink alcohol, among others).
  • COPD : the most important thing is to stop smoking, although any cause of cough will be worsened by smoking, COPD can evolve more drastically if you continue with this habit. On the other hand, frequent infections will be treated with antibiotics and, in more severe cases, there may be a requirement for oxygen.
  • Lung cancer : according to the moment of evolution in which it is diagnosed, the measures that can be implemented will be different. From radio or chemotherapy to specific biological drugs. A great benefit will be found in the changes in eating habits that we will see below.

In general, cough syrups are not recommended, except by prescription, since many times instead of helping to expel phlegm they prevent it. Likewise, there is another medication that increases the amount of secretions, which is not usually necessary either. It is enough to be able to expel what the lung is already needing to eliminate.

How to get rid of a cough with clear phlegm naturally

There are different measures and medicinal plants that can help in case of cough with transparent phlegm:

  • Improve your diet : as we have seen, gluten and dairy are great causes of mucus in the respiratory tract, therefore, suspending them is key to finding an improvement. Other unhealthy foods that you should avoid if you want to improve are: refined sugar, processed products, butter or vegetable oils (only extra-virgin olive is the one that provides benefits, even if it is cooked with it), meats and sausages.
    If you want that annoying cough with phlegm to disappear, it is better that you consume: fruits and vegetables of all kinds and, above all, raw, whole products, nuts, seeds and legumes, fermented and sprouted. Specifically, juices and raw fruits of onion, carrot, lemon and garlic are beneficial for coughs.
  • Stop smoking : cigarettes negatively affect the evolution of any process linked to the respiratory or cardiovascular system.
  • Exercise : a daily routine of about 30 minutes, gentle at first and then more intense over time, is essential for the body to eliminate secretions and return to balance.
  • Drink water : all types of irritation in the respiratory tract require that you have an adequate state of hydration, which can only be achieved through water or natural juices. Other types of drinks (with sugar, sweeteners or preservatives, caffeine, alcohol) do not hydrate in the same way.

At first, you may notice that by making all these changes the phlegm remains the same or even increases, since your body will be cleaning itself of everything it does not need but you should not stop insisting, since only by returning to the natural the body recovers your chance to heal.

To help you in this task, you can use certain herbs whose main effect is to help clear the respiratory tract of secretion and decongest the chest. Coughing is necessary to eliminate them, so taking medication that tries to cut it is not the best decision. You can use:

  • Eucalyptus : inhaling infusions made from its leaves is anti-inflammatory and helps to expel mucus. Also, you can drink a cup daily (away from food). Another way to apply it is through hot compresses on the chest, it helps to eliminate secretions.
  • Ginger : it is a great anti-inflammatory. Prepare a decoction by boiling some fragments of its root for 10 minutes, then, let it rest for another 10 minutes. You can drink up to 3 cups a day, alone or with honey or lemon.
  • Lemon : lemon helps to cleanse the body in general, it is very useful in respiratory problems. It is advisable to drink its freshly squeezed juice (you can dilute it in water) away from meals.
  • Honey : it is also anti-inflammatory and healing, it has numerous vitamins and minerals. You can drink 1 tablespoon diluted in warm water, away from food.
  • Pennyroyal : it is known for its great respiratory and digestive properties. An infusion of it must be prepared. Up to 3 cups daily.
  • Linden : 20-30 grams of this plant in 1 liter of boiled water. You can drink this infusion up to 3 cups per day.

It is important that you choose an herb, you can alternate with the others after a few days.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cough with transparent phlegm: causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Lung and respiratory tract category .

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