What is Black Mucus?

The lining of the respiratory system is protected with a layer of mucus which can be found starting right from the nose all the way to the alveoli or the air sacs found in the lungs. The function of this layer of mucus is to trap any dirt or debris that may have infiltrated the body at the time of breathing in air. It also helps in trapping various pathogens that may be present in the air and while breathing may try to enter the body.

Under normal circumstances, this layer of mucus is clear in color but can become black mucus due to dirt or debris trapped in this layer of mucus, or due to certain medical conditions, or as a result of smoking.

What is Black Mucus, Know its Causes and Remedies?

What Causes Black Mucus?

Some of the common causes for Black Mucus are:

Dust and Debris: This is a common cause for Black Mucus. When we are outside the home or office environment there is a lot of dust and debris in the air that we tend to inhale while breathing. If this debris or dust reaches the lung it may cause potential infection but the layer of Mucus acts as a protector and traps these dust particles and debris and prevents it from entering the lungs and hence the color of the mucus turns black.

Smoking: This is another common cause for Black Mucus. The nicotine that is present in cigarette smoke when inhaled damages the lining of the lungs and hampers the natural production of mucus which with time turns black in color. A chronic cigarette smoker will have persistent cough with black tinged phlegm. If this becomes persistent then a visit to a physician is recommended to rule out any serious medical condition.

Environmental Pathogens: Outside in the environment there are a lot of airborne pathogens that are literally waiting to enter the body system and cause a variety of illnesses and infections. These pathogens when entering the body get trapped in the mucus lining in the respiratory system preventing them from further entering into the lungs. This causes an individual to have Black Mucus. There are also certain occupations such as people working in coal mines who are predisposed to having conditions like Black Mucus.

Foreign Bodies: This happens mostly in children when they ingest something. This foreign body then gets trapped in the mucus and obstructs the flow of the Mucus and cause inflammation. This may result in Black Mucus along with an incredibly bad odor from the child. Emergent treatment is required if a child is suspected to have ingested a foreign body.

Fungal Infections: This is yet another cause for Black Mucus. Fungi like Aspergillosis, blastomycosis and mucormycosis can cause some serious lung infections, of which Mucormycosis is more common in diabetics and can result in rapid destruction of soft tissues due to the infection. Because of this infection, there is development of Black Mucus. If a diabetic individual notices black phlegm or black Mucus, then he/she needs to consult with a physician emergently for appropriate treatment as it may be due to a fungal infection.

Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like emphysema and lung cancer can also result in Black Mucus.

What are the Remedies for Black Mucus?

Expelling Black Mucus: Thick Mucus is often difficult to expel from the body. For this reason, the individual needs to drink plenty of water and cough periodically to expel any Black Mucus that is present. It is also recommended to avoid eating foods that tend to secrete excess Mucus as it can obstruct the respiratory system. Inhaling steam or drinking hot herbal tea is a good remedy to loosen up the thick Black Mucus and get rid of it.

Quitting Smoking: This is the best remedy for not only Black Mucus but also for overall general health. As soon as an individual stops smoking, the Mucus production increases. The cilia present in the lungs will expel more of the trapped debris and Mucus towards the throat so that they can be expelled out of the body through coughing and sneezing. As the lung detoxifies from nicotine, the cilia retain their normal function and the normal production of Mucus begins. This may at first increase the production of Black Mucus but with time this will gradually improve and go away completely.

Protective Gearing: it is imperative for people who spend most of their time outside or work in coal mines to wear a protective mouth mask so that any sort of harmful dust or debris is not able to enter the respiratory system and make the Mucus black. It should be made sure that the mask is properly fitting and covers both the mouth and the nose. It is also recommended not to share the mask with anyone as it may lead to spread of any infection that the person may have.

Prevention of Fungal Infections: Fungus is something which is always present and is something which cannot be avoided. What one can do is to prevent himself or herself from getting contaminated by any fungus, especially whose people who have a compromised immune system as it is easy for t he fungus to infiltrate the body of those people. Aspergillus is the most common fungus responsible for various lung infections which may result in Black Mucus. Thus it is important to follow the below mentioned steps so as to prevent from getting infected by a fungus

  • As fungus thrives in soil, so whenever you are out gardening or working with soil that may be contaminated, make sure you use gloves, and after working, wash the hands thoroughly with a hand sanitizer
  • Wear high quality mask whenever around construction sites or places where there might be chances of fungal presence

Home Maintainance: This is an important aspect of preventing any fungus from growing within the household and also preventing any infections which may cause Black Mucus. There are certain areas in every household that provides good atmosphere for fungus to thrive such as damp and humid areas in the basement of the house. Thus it is imperative to check on the basement every now and then for presence of any fungus growth and cleaning the basement every once in a month or so to protect the house from any fungal infection that may ultimately lead to production of Black Mucus.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: March 14, 2017

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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