The color of your phlegm can indicate many things and can give you a glimpse into the kind of health problem your are currently having but not yet become aware of it.

Coughing is not uncommon and it is a usual issue that anyone can suffer from, so generally we do not get worried much about this. But then, what if you cough up (phlegm) has color instead of being transparent? How would you react if some day you see color of your phlegm in a color such as green, brown or red, it is not funny though it feels to be, but it is something more severe and indicates that you should consult your doctor about this.

When the color of your phlegm is yellow or green usually it indicates that there is a viral or bacterial infection. The color of the phlegm will not generally indicate a severe health problem. The color of the phlegm can change according to the dust present in the environment around you. Your phlegm can sometimes be black or brown colored if you stay in a polluted area.

It is common when you are sick and develop a severe cough in the lungs and cough up phlegm or sputum. While looking at the color you might think that it is related to your sickness, yet there is much more to it. The color of your phlegm can tell you which type of viruses are attacking your body.

Our body makes phlegm approximately 1 to 1.5 liters of it every single day. This is a regular system of producing mucus even when you are not having any kind of health issues. If you find this color of your phlegm clear and minimum, you can be sure that you are a healthy person, and if you are coughing a major amount of phlegm, it could be an infection or lungs related allergies.

You consider the clear color of your phlegm as normal while coughing, but larger amounts of it can create a problem and it may be an indication of developing an infection, as a result the human respiratory tract can become swollen, which also leads to coughing.

Which Phlegm Color Indicates Bacterial Infection?

Yellow, green brown tinged or bloody color of your phlegm usually indicates a bacterial infection. Bacteria reasons to locations specific symptoms like the chest, sinuses or throat. A virus can also produce clear or cloudy looking phlegm. In the next section you will read about the other phlegm colors and what does other color phlegm mean?

What Does the Color of Your Phlegm Indicate?

What Does the Color of Your Phlegm Indicate?

  1. What does White or Gray Colored Phlegm Indicate?

    What does white or gray color of your phlegm indicate? Gray or white colored phlegm is a sign of sinus congestion or infection of the respiratory tract. This type of phlegm exhausts from the sinuses. Our sinus does not drip, but this viral or bacterial inflammation can cause it to trickle from your sinus into your throat.

    We often read that consuming dairy products can develop white mucus, this is a myth, however dairy products like milk, curd can make the mucus thicker than usual and it can be troublesome for our body. This consumption causes the phlegm to dry out, that later leads to a white discharge. Coughing up gray phlegm may be a symbol that your body is helping you to get rid of the tars or resins present in your lungs due to tremendous smoking or breathing of large amounts of air pollutants like when you were in pollution or dirt area.

  2. What does Green or Dark Yellow Colored Phlegm Indicate?

    Green or dark yellow color of your phlegm indicates a sinus infection or bacterial infection or lower respiratory system infection. This happens when the immune system sends white blood cells to the infected area and these white cells contain a green protein when they get mixed in large quantities, they turn the phlegm into green color.

    According to a study held in 2011, green or yellow mucus does not always mean infection but it could be in some cases. Researchers found that only 59 of every 100 trials which contained green phlegm indicates bacteria while 46 out of every 100 models which contained yellow color of your phlegm indicated bacteria which is opposite to popular principles that having greenish mucus does not mean a bacterial disease.

  3. What does Brown Color of Your Phlegm Indicate?

    Brown color of your phlegm indicates and is related to the people who smoke, so the production occurs in smokers, it often comes out with saliva in a rough form. The smoking can turn the mucus brown because of the tar and other substances in cigarettes, which the body tries to throw out through coughing process. If you are producing the brown mucus but you are not a smoker, then it can be possible due to the foods you are consuming as chocolate, coffee, and red wine.

  4. What does Pink Color of Your Phlegm Indicate?

    Pink color of your phlegm indicates and is common among people having heart problems, this condition people usually throw out the pink phlegm; it is also an indicator of pulmonary edema which is having overload fluid in the lungs. It can also be a sign of bleeding as a stain and having a foamy surface. So this is mostly for the people suffering from heart problems.

  5. What does Red Color of Your Phlegm (bloody colored sputum) Indicate?

    Bloody color of your phlegm indicates haemoptysis (spitting of blood) or bloody sputum. Bloody phlegm or coughing of large amounts of blood indicates cancer or pulmonary embolism or pneumonia or tuberculosis. If there is more amount of blood than the phlegm itself then it is crucial to check with the doctor immediately as it could mean a serious health concern.

  6. What does Black Colored Phlegm Indicate?

    Black color of your phlegm can indicate several reasons such as inhaling coal dust which can lead to black lung disease or tobacco consumption. Several diseases may occur such as:

    • Black color of your phlegm could indicate cancer.
    • Tuberculosis might be an indication for black color of your phlegm.
    • Bronchial disorders, Emphysema or Bronchitis may be indications for black color of your phlegm.

    While different color of your phlegm can be a forerunner of terrible health, it also serves a good purpose in preserving health to help eliminate any substance which is harming us.

    Nasal mucus can be a helpful way to determine what is happening in your nasal channels.

Home Remedies for Changing the Color of Your Phlegm or to Get Rid of the Phlegm

The below home remedies for changing the color of your phlegm is only for simple infections caused in throat, lungs. If you are having ping, brown, black colored phlegm then it is vital to contact a medical practitioner and explain the problem.

You can go for several medicines directed by the doctors or you can also try home remedies to get rid of these simple infections causing severe cough and phlegm. For home remedies for changing the color of your phlegm or to help get rod of the phlegm, follow the below instructions:

  • Boil the water in a pot; add a spoon of vapor rub to the water, as an alternative you can also have some mint and eucalyptus leaves to the water. When the water comes to the boil, remove the pot and inhale the vapor. This loosens the overcrowding in the sinus and makes the congested phlegm eject easily and over a period of a week the color of your phlegm can change.
  • If you are experiencing very thick mucus, you may suffer congestion, to get rid of this situation, you can use this home remedy to prevent from undesired phlegm and congestion as well. It will be good if you can avail the humidifier during night times, it will help a lot in fighting the infections and changing the color of your phlegm.
  • Another remedy that combines Honey and pepper. Mix a pinch of pepper to a spoonful of honey and use this mixture twice a day for a week. This is a good home remedy for not only changing the color of your phlegm but also to help get rid of the phlegm.
  • Another simple home remedy is to cut a slice of lemon, sprinkle on it some salt and pepper, and suck the slice of the lemon. This will help to clear the throat with no trouble and bring back the normal transparent color of your phlegm.
  • A ginger, onion, and sugar tonic is an effective home remedy for phlegm reduction. Just chop a small onion, place this in a bowl beside with a teaspoon of grated ginger and two spoons of sugar then toss the mixture well. Onions and garlic act as natural antibiotics, so this way they can be used as a tonic for phlegm and it tastes sweet, it also helps to boost the immune system and thus helps to reduce the severity of every infection. The ginger-onion tonic allows the phlegm to be easily expelled from the body and within a week the color of your phlegm can become normal.

Herbal Remedies for Changing the Color of Your Phlegm or to Get Rid of the Phlegm

You can also try some herbal remedies as echinacea and peppermint for changing the color of your phlegm, both works on viral and bacterial infections. Peppermint contains menthol that helps restrain the cough reflex. You can also like the idea of making these both into a tea with fresh herbs and hot water. Those with autoimmune disorders should avoid echinacea. If any of you have gallbladder problems then, peppermint should not be used. If you have allergies with herbal remedies, consult your doctor before using these remedies in order to change the color of your phlegm.

Eucalyptus Oil for Changing the Color of your Phlegm

Eucalyptus oil helps quickly calming a cough and give relax to the throat, it can be found at medical stores in a little green-colored capsules. Use this capsule as a steam inhalation method by adding this one capsule to hot bowl filled water and start inhaling the vapor until you feel relaxed and once the bacterial infection is gone the color of your phlegm becomes normal. Eucalyptus oil often can cause severe reactions to the skin if touched straight so take caution.

Diet for Changing the Color of Your Phlegm or to Get Rid of the Phlegm

Diet has an impact on color of your phlegm. It should be clear to everyone that what we eat and drink impact our body directly as when we add eating foods that are rich in vitamins, our immune system starts boosting on as the vitamins reduce the chances of infection. In order to cure the phlegm problem, it is advised to drink plenty of warm fluids and soups are the best option as warm fluids.

Also, it is important to drink eight glasses of water daily and juices rich in Vitamin C, this vitamin keeps the phlegm from getting hard and makes it easier to eject and with the bacterial or viral infection gone, you can get back your normal color of your phlegm.

Remember to include ginger in your regular diet as it works as a natural decongestant and is very effective fighting infections for decade, it gets you easy congestion in the throat and chest and allows you to breathe easily and fully. You can chew out some ginger or consume the ginger tea.

Other Suggestions for Changing the Color of Your Phlegm and Phlegm Reduction

It would be better if you ignore taking processed foods such as cheese, tinned vegetables, soft drinks and dairy products they can be result as thicker phlegm. It will be good if you avoid alcohol and cigarettes as these worsen the throat conditions and can possible change the color of your phlegm to black or bloody. Also take care of your throat from spices, do not consume very spicy foods to cure the throat issue rapidly.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 4, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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