How can persistent phlegm be treated?

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Posted on Fri, 15 Nov 2019 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Question: I have a persistent phlegm condition in my throat that causes me to have to clear my throat a lot. It gets more irritated with certain foods, particularly dairy, nuts and anything at all acidic or greasy. There is no blood. I've had some issues with acid re-flux. I've never taken any medication for it, like Pepsid AC. I am fit, not overweight and eat very healthy.
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Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 41 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Postnasal drip of mucus

Detailed Answer:

Hi,

Mucus at the back of the throat is usually due to postnasal drip. Postnasal drip can result in persistent dry cough or sore throat in some persons.

When a person has a chronic cough due to postnasal drip it is called upper airway cough syndrome.

The cause of post nasal drip is either allergic or infectious in most cases.

Infectious means that the person may have a new cold/cough which would cause increased mucus production

In allergies- the cause can be varied- foods or drinks, animal dander, pollen, smells, dust etc
Dairy increases the thickness of mucus.

The acid reflux can also cause clearing and irritation of the throat

Treatment of postnasal drip involves-(1)avoiding any aggravating factors such as any food or environment that you notice worsens the problem
(2)antihistamine decongestant combination if needed. This can take 2 to 3 weeks to start working in some cases eg Benadryl d, Claritine D, Allegra D, Zyrtec D

If avoidance and the antihistamine/decongestant combination is not enough to help with the post nasal drip then additional medication can be used if it is bothersome eg nasal sprays or montelukast

Acid reflux would respond to diet changes and medication if needed like the Pepcid mentioned.
Other meds-Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Zantac

Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further.

Take care

Regards,
Dr Michelle Gibson James, General & Family Physician
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Michelle Gibson James 21 hours later
Thanks for your very thorough answer! Just another thought (since I get 1 or 2 - lol), do I need to have any worry about throat cancer causing the irritation? I have never smoked, but I know that doesn't necessarily mean I'm immune.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 26 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Usually have additional symptoms

Detailed Answer:

Hi,

It is true that throat cancer can occur in persons who do not smoke but it is far less common.

It is also a far less common reason for your symptoms

Throat cancer can also cause- blood, weight loss (all cancers tend to cause unexplained weight loss), persistent sore throat

Based on the history given, it is not likely at all.

If you are still unsure, then you can see an ENT specialist for assessment.

Hope I have answered your query.

Take care

Regards,
Dr Michelle Gibson James, General & Family Physician
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 11372 Questions

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