Know what each color of phlegm (catarrh) means
When you hear of a phlegm, what comes to your mind? Well, this is a thick viscous substance secreted by the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages, especially when produced in excessive quantities during a cold. It is
synonymous with mucus or catarrh.
When the phlegm shows some color or is very thick it can be a sign of allergy, sinusitis, pneumonia, some other infection in the airways or even cancer.
Therefore, when phlegm is not a clear, almost liquid discharge, it may be important to consult a pulmonologist to start treatment as soon as possible, avoiding the worsening of the problem, especially when bedridden, small children or the elderly.
1. Green or yellow catarrh
These colors usually arise when neutrophils are present in the airways, which are defense cells of the body that produce a green protein that is dissolved in phlegm, and the color varies according to the amount of the protein. In this way, this type of catarrh can indicate an infection of the airways or nasal sinuses, like pharyngitis or pneumonia.
What to do: You should consult a pulmonologist or general practitioner to identify the type of infection that is causing the catarrh and start treatment with the appropriate antibiotic.
2. Blood or red catarrh
When blood on the phlegm arises in a small amount it is usually a sign of bronchitis, however, when there is too much blood on the phlegm can indicate more serious problems like tuberculosis, pneumonia or lung cancer.
What to do: You should consult a pulmonologist to do diagnostic tests such as x-rays to identify the problem and start the appropriate treatment.
3. White or gray catarrh
This type of catarrh is usually a sign of an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, but may also arise during influenza or sinus infection, when the sinuses become full and begin to drain into the throat.
In rare cases, this coloration can also occur when eating many dairy products because the milk derivatives make the phlegm thicker and have a whitish color when it is eliminated.
What to do: Drink about 2 liters of water per day to help eliminate phlegm, and if there is no improvement, consult a general practitioner to start treatment for the problem that is causing the catarrh.
4. Brown or black catarrh
Smokers and workers from heavily polluted places, such as mines or stonemasons, usually have brown or black phlegm, which happens due to the presence of particles such as tar or resin. In addition, brown phlegm can also arise due to the ingestion of some foods, such as chocolate, coffee or red wine.
What to do: It is recommended to avoid places with a lot of dust or pollution, as well as to stop smoking, if this is the case.
5. Pink catarrh
Pink phlegm cough is usually an indicator that there is fluid in the lungs and is therefore very common in cases of heart problems, such as heart failure, in which blood collects around the lungs, causing fluid to enter in the lungs.
What to do: in this case it is important to consult a pulmonologist or general cardiologist to adjust the treatment of the problem that is causing pink phlegm, which can be done with the intake of diuretic medicines such as Furosemide in case of heart problems.
What can indicate the consistency of the catarrh
Normal, healthy catarrh usually has a more liquid consistency and therefore is easily reabsorbed by the body and does not hinder breathing.
However, the phlegm may become thicker, especially due to situations such as:
Being in a very dry environment, such as in an air-conditioned room.
Do not drink enough water during the day;
Have a respiratory allergy to pollen or dust.
Take medications that can dry out the secretions, such as antidepressants, antihistamines or decongestants.
In addition, phlegm also gets thicker during flu or colds, for example, but any other infection can also have this result. This is because the body has more work to eliminate viruses and bacteria and therefore needs more water to function, leaving the phlegm drier.
Thus, to eliminate the thick catarrh it is very important to drink about 2 liters of water per day and to spray with water or saline, because it helps to fluidize the secretions and facilitates their elimination. In addition, there are some home remedies with expectorant properties that help with phlegm elimination.
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