The source of a cough that produces mucus has to do with irritation within the throat. Mucus is a normal body function. Viral pneumonia: This form of pneumonia is caused by an infection in your lungs. We include products we think are useful for our readers. It can happen if the bacteria in your mouth or throat, such as from gum disease, gets down to your lungs. You can help get rid of it faster by drinking lots of fluids and running a humidifier or vaporizer to help moisten and thin out your phlegm. If what you are coughing up is yellow or green, you probably have an infection. With this condition, you may experience white sputum. Adults with CF often may cough up mucus that’s tinged with blood. Treatments for COPD include medications, pulmonary rehab, supplemental oxygen, and surgery to open up blocked pathways. As such, coughing up mucus is not a surefire indicator that illness is present and, neither is coughing up brown mucus. It may also mean you have a fungal infection that needs medical attention. Your phlegm may get thicker and darker as an infection progresses. Viral bronchitis:This condition may start off with white phlegm. Viral infections are the most common cause of acute bronchitis. Antibiotics and flu vaccines can help prevent infections. Cystic fibrosis. It may also cause chills, fever, cough, and chest pain. It begins with clear or white phlegm and coughing. But it also can be brought on by bacteria, an irritant such as smoking, an allergy, or certain chemicals. If you can’t cough it out, infection can set in and form a cavity. You may be more at risk for developing chronic bronchitis if you smoke or are often exposed to fumes and other irritants. If your cough lasts more than a month or if you see blood, see your doctor. COPD: This condition causes your airways to narrow and your lungs to produce excess mucus. General symptoms include chest pain, fever, cough, and trouble breathing. While phlegm is a normal part of the respiratory system, it isn’t normal if it’s affecting your everyday life. Acid Reflux. It more often affects people who have cystic fibrosis. You should seek immediate medical attention if you’re having difficulty breathing. If your mucus turns brown, yellow, or green, it can be an early warning sign of a flare-up. If it progresses into a bacterial infection, it may lead to yellow and green phlegm. You may also experience shortness of breath. Two forms of chronic lung disease, cystic fibrosis (CF) and bronchiectasis, might lead you to cough up clingy, dark-brown phlegm. Lung cancer: This condition causes many respiratory symptoms, including coughing up red-tinged phlegm or even blood. Fungal infection: A black yeast called Exophiala dermatitidis causes this infection. Along with other symptoms of asthma, such as shortness of breath and chest tightness, asthma can cause you to cough up phlegm. Sign Up to Receive Our Free Coroanvirus Newsletter. All rights reserved. You may also see an increase in clear phlegm. Clear phlegm that’s associated with allergies is generally not as thick or sticky as the green sputum you see with bacterial bronchitis or the black phlegm from a fungal infection. The consistency of your phlegm can change due to many of reasons. Your symptoms will vary based on the type of pneumonia you have. Coughing up black sputum may also be accompanied by shortness of breath. The tiny grape cluster-like air sacs at the tips of your breathing tubes can swell and fill up with fluid. Congestive heart failure: This occurs when your heart isn’t effectively pumping blood to the rest of your body. It could be dry or bring up phlegm. Acute bronchitis causes coughs that produce mucus. Of course the most sensible theory for most would - you're reaching the age where "big fat bong rips" should be left to the youngins with iron lungs. A dry cough that brings up thick phlegm is one of the main symptoms of pneumonia. Your body produces clear mucus and phlegm on a daily basis. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. You should still keep watch over your other symptoms to see how your illness is progressing. White Gastro reflux can also cause people to cough up … If your symptoms don’t go away and your doctor strongly suspects a bacterial infection, they may prescribe an antibiotic. GERD: This chronic condition affects your digestive system. Allergic rhinitis: This is also called nasal allergy or sometimes hay fever. Green or yellow phlegm is commonly caused by: Bronchitis: This usually starts off with a dry cough and eventually some clear or white phlegm. Pneumoconiosis: Inhaling different dusts, like coal, asbestos, and silicosis can cause this incurable lung disease. There are times when phlegm is a reason to see your doctor right away. At first, you may notice yellow phlegm that then progresses into green phlegm. Cigarette smoke is usually the reason. Harvard University: “All About That Mucus: How It Keeps Us Healthy.”, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: “What Does the Color of Phlegm Mean?”, Western Australia Department of Health: “Facts About Giving Up Smoking.”, Breathe: The Lung Association (Canada): “Recognize the Early Warning Signs of a Flare-up.”, American Lung Association: “Treating COPD,” “The Basics of Pulmonary Rehabilitation.”, Harvard Medical School: “Acute Bronchitis.”, National Health Service (UK): “Pneumonia.”, John Muir Health: “Chronic Lung Disease.”, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: “About Cystic Fibrosis.”, Mount Nittany Health: “Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis.”, Merck Manuals: “Abscess in the Lungs.”, BMJ Case Reports: “Unusual case of a lung abscess.”. © 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup. This is when the linings of your bronchial tubes, the air passageways in your lungs, get inflamed. Pulmonary embolism: This happens when the pulmonary artery in your lungs becomes blocked. This condition is life-threatening and may also cause shortness of breath and chest pain. Since bronchiectasis a long-term condition, you may need to stay on inhalers and other drugs to lower your swelling. Cystic fibrosis: This chronic lung disease may cause rust-colored sputum. This mucus creates postnasal drip and may make you cough up clear phlegm. You don't need antibiotics, but bed rest and home care can help. Fluids build up in different areas leading to edema. Cough prevention and…. The color comes from white blood cells. This is a painful pocket of pus wrapped in inflamed tissue. It may be time to head to the doctor if you notice it in your airways, throat, or if you start coughing it up. © 2005 - 2019 WebMD LLC. It can be a sign of old blood, chronic -- ongoing -- inflammation, or tar that loosens up after you’ve quit smoking. Here are some reasons why you might get it. It may also be thicker in the morning or if you are dehydrated. You might feel tired, have night sweats or fever, and cough up foul-smelling, brown- or blood-specked phlegm. In severe cases, you may need a lung transplant. If you have it, you’ll first notice a cough. If you’re allergic and breathe it in, it can inflame your lungs.