How to Get Rid of Mucus and Phlegm in Your Lungs

The secretion of phlegm, a form of mucus, in the lungs is one of the defense mechanisms of the body that is aimed at promoting the easier expulsion of infectious pathogens from the lungs and air passages. 

The mucus secretions form a thin protective lining along the walls of the respiratory passages, even in a person who is healthy. These secretions help to keep the air passages from drying out and defend against harmful invaders, such as viruses and bacteria.

However, the secretion of mucus increases remarkably when a person develops an infection. The excessive secretion of mucus or phlegm in the air passages can worsen the symptoms of infections by causing blockages in the air passages making it more difficult for the patient to breathe.

Hence, there is a need to be aware of the effective ways to get rid of mucus or phlegm in the lungs. Read on to learn some of the safest and the most effective ways to clear mucus and ease breathing.

Safe and effective ways to get rid of mucus and phlegm in the lungs

Keep the air moist

Inhaling dry air can cause irritation of the air passages. To derive relief from the irritation, the nose and throat produce more mucus that serves as a lubricant allowing smoother passage of air through the bronchi and bronchioles towards the lungs.

Hence, it is important to ensure the air you breathe in is not too dry. This would help to inhibit the mechanisms adopted by the throat and nose to moisten the air and reduce the excessive secretion of phlegm in the lungs. 

Placing a mist humidifier in the room could help to moisten the air to some extent. This would ensure the air you breathe is not too dry. This could prevent the irritation of the nose and throat and minimize the mucus secretions in the air passages. 

Placing a mist humidifier in the bedroom would also promote better sleep, by keeping your nose clear and relieving a sore throat.

Keep your head elevated

The build-up of mucus in the lungs can create difficulty in breathing, especially while sleeping. Keeping the head elevated while sleeping could provide relief from the symptoms caused due to the mucus accumulation to a great extent.

Sleeping in a propped-up position by resting the head on a few pillows can prevent the collection of mucus at the back of the throat and reduce irritation. Lying flat, on the other hand, could increase discomfort, by allowing the mucus to collect at the back of the throat.

Moreover, keeping your head elevated can lower the dome of the diaphragm, which is a strong muscle wall that separates the thoracic cavity and the abdominal cavity. This could help to improve the amount of space available for the lungs while breathing and prevent breathing difficulties caused due to the accumulation of mucus.

Drink plenty of fluids

Dryness of the air passages may occur due to the inadequate hydration of the air passages caused due to the reduced intake of water.

The body needs to stay well hydrated in order to keep the mucus secretions thin and watery. The lack of adequate hydration can make the mucus thick due to which you may experience difficulty in breathing. The thick mucus is also more difficult to expectorate and hence, more likely to accumulate in the tissues.

Hence, it is advisable to drink plenty of water to keep the body well hydrated. The increased water intake would keep the mucus secretions thin and prevent the clogging of the air passages thus easing your breathing.

Drinking more water is specifically important for patients suffering from respiratory infections. Drinking extra fluids would make the mucus and phlegm thin allowing the patient to expectorate it out with better ease. This would prevent the risk of accumulation of phlegm in the lungs and reduce the risk of serious complications like pneumonia.

Drinking more water would also support the easier removal of cough and mucus from the upper and lower respiratory passages and prevent congestion in the nose, throat, bronchi, bronchioles, and lungs.

Gargling with salt water

Gargling with salt water could soothe the irritated air passages. This would reduce inflammation in the throat and thus, reduce mucus secretions. The warmth of the gargling water can also help to kill the bacteria in the throat thus clearing the infection in a shorter duration.

Also, since salt is hygroscopic in nature, it would pull water along with itself thus reducing the residual mucus accumulated in the air passages.

Steam inhalation

Steam inhalation works similar to salt water gargling and helps to reduce mucus secretions in the lungs.

You may add a few drops of Eucalyptus oil to water during steam inhalation. Eucalyptus could subdue cough and reduce swelling, inflammation, and mucus in the lungs. It would also act as a natural decongestant and open up the air passages thus improving the flow of air from the nose to the lungs.

Keeping allergies in check

The secretion of mucus in the lungs is likely to increase following the exposure to allergens like dust, pollen, and animal dander. Repeated exposure to these allergens could cause the mucosal lining of the throat and lungs to continue producing excessive mucus in an attempt to promote their expulsion from the body.

This may result in more severe and long-term damage to the respiratory tissues. Hence, identifying allergens and irritants and avoiding your exposure to the same is highly critical for reducing mucus and phlegm in the lungs.

You should also avoid your exposure to irritants like chemicals, air pollutants, toxins, and perfumes that could irritate the nose, throat, and lungs causing these tissues to produce more mucus.


Our Respiratory Conference is aimed at providing comprehensive information about the most effective ways to clear mucus and phlegm in the lungs. The experienced speakers at our AARC approved CEU’s will share the findings of the latest research studies with you to help you provide better pulmonary care to your patients. Our webinars are aimed at creating awareness about the importance of pulmonary health and the latest diagnostic and treatment methods to enhance the healthcare systems in the field of pulmonary medicine.