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    Suggest treatment for heavy and thick phlegm in the throat

Posted on Wed, 12 Jul 2017 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Question: I am experiencing heavy phlegm in my throat. The only way to clear it is to "hack" it up. It is a thick and sticky substance, clear or whitish in color.
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 34 minutes later
Brief Answer:
anti histamine/decongestant, nasal spray

Detailed Answer:
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

If this is a long term problem then it is possible that it may be related to post nasal drip of mucus to the back of the throat due to allergic response to some agent.

This is a very common condition.

If it is a recent/short term problem, then it may be due to a new onset infection of the sinuses, this can be viral or bacterial, viral is most common.
The fact that the sputum is white/clear, makes a bacterial infection, requiring antibiotics, unlikely

Treatment is mostly the same except in the first instance, identifying the trigger would be important. One of my patients who had allergy tests after dealing with this problem, found out she was reacting to bananas according to her test result.

The treatment involves the use of anti histamine/decongestant combination eg zyrtec d, allegra d, claritine d, benadryl d. These are over the counter meds and are used for post nasal drip even if there is no nasal congestion.

In addition, a nasal spray such as nasonex or nasocort or flonase or rhinocort-- may be helpful as well.

It can , unfortunately, sometimes take a few days for a response to occur to the medication. This does not happen to everyone.
If there is no response to these meds, additional medications such as montelukast or ketotifen, may be added.

If it is a long term problem, you should also consider allergy testing.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Michelle Gibson James 28 minutes later
I have no symptoms of a runny nose or post nasal drip. The sputum is at the back of my throat and when I swallow can induce a gagging reflex. I can clear it after many attempts, but it returns. I have had these symptoms for many months. Could it be something else besides allergies?
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 51 minutes later
Brief Answer:
post nasal drip refers to mucus/sputum to the back of the throat

Detailed Answer:

Post nasal drip is thought of as mucus/sputum to the back of the throat, it is the same.

The mucus/sputum is post nasal (to the back of the nasal passages in the throat).

The nose does not need to be congested for a person to have this mucus at the back (post nasal drip). Some persons have the drip only. The drip itself can cause cough, it is actually considered to most common reason for chronic cough.

When the symptoms exist for a long time as in your case, allergies (dust, medications, food and drink, animals , plants,) are the most common cause.
Other non allergic triggers are odors and perfumes, smoke, traffic fumes, change in weather.
Some blood pressure medications, medications for ED, medications for prostate enlargement-- can worsen these symptoms in some persons

A normal saline wash (though you have no nasal symptoms), may help, because it helps with the post nasal secretions as well

Please feel free to ask anything else
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Answered by
Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 16811 Questions


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