What Does Green Sputum Indicate and How to Get Rid of it?

Our respiratory tract expectorates some kind of mucus or pus discharge which is usually known as Sputum. This sputum is also known as Phlegm. Sputum can be of different color like green, yellow etc, and based upon the sputum color, its types, and some other signs and symptoms usually the underlying condition of a patient is diagnosed by means of various laboratory tests including sputum culture or cytology. Green sputum can be a chronic condition or may also indicate a long standing infection inside the body. In this article we will know more about what does Green sputum indicate, are antibiotics the best way to treat green sputum, and how to get rid of green sputum using OTC, inhalation therapy, acupressure, and some of the home remedies like using onion, garlic, honey that can help get rid of green sputum etc.

Where are the Green Sputum Produced?

Where are the Green Sputum Produced?

Green mucus is usually considered to be produced with a condition where there is a bacterial or viral infection in the body’s respiratory tract. Following are the parts where the Green mucus is produced.

  • The nasal membrane
  • Trachea
  • Bronchioles
  • Bronchi
  • Sinus

What does Green Sputum Indicate?

As mentioned earlier that green sputum typically indicates a severe or long standing infection. Usually the green color in sputum occurs because of the neutrophils breaking down and an enzyme known as myeloperoxidase or verdoperoxidase is released. It is also possible that green sputum in a long standing condition is inflammatory but non infectious. In case of infections, the green sputum typically includes large quantities of pus.

Following are some of the conditions which can cause the production of Green Sputum.

  • In case of Cystic fibrosis, there originates symptoms of green sputum. Here, it is essential to treat the underlying condition as per doctor’s advice.
  • In case of Chronic bronchitis, the sputum may range from grey to green color and may also be clear sputum
  • Pneumonia is a condition which causes varied colored sputum, including green sputum, yellow or white sputum.
  • Lung Abscesses are also cases where green sputum may be produced. In fact the green sputum produced when abscess ruptures, are sudden and in large quantity.
  • A bacterial infection of the respiratory tract also causes Green sputum. If green sputum is combined with other symptoms like high fever, sinus pain, nasal congestion, blood in nasal discharge etc; there are chances you have bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. It is essential for you to make a doctor’s visit.

“Green Sputum Requires Antibiotics for Treatment: A Prevailing Myth!”

About 40% of people believe that green sputum depicts a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract and must require antibiotics for treatment. However, this is in fact a prevailing myth. Green sputum always do not require an antibiotic treatment. There are conditions which cause green sputum, lasts for about 2-3 weeks but disappear without taking antibiotics.

In order to raise awareness of the risks linked with the inappropriate use of antibiotics and how to responsibly use them, Public Health England and Royal College of General Practitioners mentions that green sputum is not always a sign of bacterial infection requiring antibiotics to get better.

Our body produces WBC or the White blood cells so as to attack any foreign materials the body does not recognise, like pollutants, pollen, dirt, microbes etc and are carried in one’s sputum. Some of the WBCs contain a green colored substance, a protein in them. So if more of these WBCs with green proteins are present, the greener your sputum will be.

So, not all green sputum depicts a requirement of antibiotic treatments. In most healthy cases, though it may take about 2-3 weeks, the green sputum production with or without cough would stop as the cold or flu-like symptoms clears up. There are many conditions causing green sputum due to viral illnesses and gets better on their own in few weeks only with some over-the-counter medicines and would not require antibiotics.

How to Get Rid of Green Sputum?

In this section we will get to know about some of the best ways to get rid of green sputum, especially those which are caused due to bacterial infections. For other conditions leading to the production of green sputum, it is essential to treat the underlying causes so as to get rid of the green sputum effectively.

How to Get Rid of Green Sputum?

  1. OTC Medicines For Getting Rid Of Green Sputum:

    Though OTC medicines will not be successful in curing the underlying causes of green sputum, they are effective in curing discomfort caused due to condition leading to green mucus.

  2. Inhalation Therapy for Eliminating Green Sputum:

    Inhalation therapy is one more way to get rid of green sputum. You need to inhale steam from boiling water and allow it to help eliminate the green sputum from your system. You can also take a steam shower 2-3 times a day for about 10 minutes each and help you treat the condition. However it must be kept in mind to be careful while inhaling the steam from boiling water as you might accidentally harm the nasal and sinus cavities’ cilia. Steam that contacts these cilia in inhalation therapy must be in an appropriate temperature.

  3. Antibiotic Treatments For Relieving Green Sputum Due To Bacterial Infection:

    Antibiotics are essential ways to treat green sputum caused due to bacterial sinus infection. It must be remembered that antibiotics may cause some side effects like decimation of the stomach and the intestinal floras. So it is essential to be careful of not taking over dose of antibiotics and also not go for an antibiotic treatment unless one is confirmed about the bacterial infection causing green sputum and advised by a medical professional.

  4. Acupressure for Treating Conditions Causing Green Sputum:

    Acupressure can be used in case of the sinus infections causing sinus headache, sinus pressure, congestion etc which make our immune system prompt enough to fight against the sinus infection leading to various symptoms including green sputum; if right technique is used, with right foods and supplements that boosts the immune system.

  5. Various Other Home Remedies For Getting Rid Of Green Sputum:

    There are some specific home remedies for getting rid of green sputum. Here we shall note down some of the important ones.

    • Salt water gargling is the one of the most effective home remedy that helps in fighting infections in throat and aids in eliminating green sputum due to bacterial infections.
    • Onion and carrots are vegetables known to be effective in reducing green sputum in case caught at an early stage of the infection. Moreover, onion as a home remedy helps in improving the immune system and thus aids in fighting against the sinus infection causing green sputum.
    • Honey, being antiviral, antibacterial in property; makes a great home remedy for soothing the infected throat and eliminate the sputum. Drinking a table spoon of honey in a glass of warm water is effective.
    • Ginger is an effective home remedy for treating infections causing green sputum and also the anti-inflammatory property of ginger helps in strengthening the immune system to fight against further infections.
    • Turmeric being antiseptic in nature is also helpful home remedy in getting rid of green sputum.

Other Considerations to Reduce Symptoms of Green Sputum:

  • In order to reduce the symptoms of green sputum production, it is essential to avoid foods that produce mucus and encourage taking foods that improves immunity.
  • Take essential rests in case you suffer from sinus pressure and help your immune system to work more efficiently in fighting the infection and getting rid of green sputum.
  • Relieve sinus pressure as soon as it takes place. You can use sinus acupressure to relieve the condition and prevent green sputum production.
  • Drink plenty of clean water.


Considering the severity of the symptoms, it is essential to be properly diagnosed with the condition that leads to green sputum. You can reach your doctor in case of any serious symptoms, like a long standing condition of green sputum or large amount of green sputum and take professional advices for appropriate treatments. However, in case of mild symptoms of green sputum you can go for home remedies and natural treatments. Be sure not to take over doses of antibiotics and also avoid the antibiotics in case the green sputum produced is not due to bacterial infection of the sinus.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 14, 2017

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