A disgusting Thursday Thirteen. Since covid, I've taken note of sneezes and coughs I would have ignored before. Which is why I have assembled 13 facts about phlegm.
1. Phlegm is made of water, salt, bacteria and other debris that your lungs decided they didn't want.
2. It has an important job to do. Phlegm traps harmful things that you breathe in, like pollution.
3. The consistency of your phlegm doesn't really doesn't reveal as much about the cause as the color.
4. Clear phlegm means ... nothing. It's normal. Your body is just whisking the bad stuff away.
5. Yellow phlegm means your body is fighting off an infection. The color is from white blood cells.
6. Green phlegm is creepy, but it's not so bad. Your body is just working a little harder to fight off the infection.
7. Pink or red indicates there's blood in the phlegm. A lot of sneezing or coughing -- especially in dry air -- could lead to broken blood vessels. If it goes on for more than a day, the blood in your phlegm could be from something more serious and you should call your doctor.
8. I've never seen brown phlegm, and I'm glad, because it means more serious bleeding. Perhaps in the lungs. Call the doctor.
9. Black phlegm? It's bad. It's a sign of a fungal infection in your lungs. When you call the doctor, it's a good bet they'll want to see you.
10. Breathing dry air can irritate your airways, so if phlegm is a recurring problem for you (or if it creeps you out), you might want to invest in a cool-mist humidifier.
11. Breathing cool air helps your respiratory system, and so does drinking warm liquids. Decaffeinated tea is your best bet.
12. It's not an old wives' tale: chicken soup really does help.
13. Doctors are still recommending one of the oldest remedies in the book: gargling with salt water.
I hope this helped you better understand that icky stuff.
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