There are numerous different possible causes of a cough with clear mucus. In this article, we will discuss some of these causes, and explore a large number of home remedies that will help you resolve your cough. Coughing up clear mucus can be an annoying and distressing condition. Luckily, you are likely to find the information we present here to be very helpful.
- 1 Causes of Coughing Up Clear Mucus
- 2 Home Remedies for Cough with Clear Mucus
- 2.1 Honey
- 2.2 Ginger
- 2.3 Licorice
- 2.4 Lemon
- 2.5 Thyme tea
- 2.6 Black pepper and honey
- 2.7 Hot shower
- 2.8 Herbal tea blends
- 2.9 Stay hydrated
- 2.10 Peppermint candy in lemon juice with honey
- 2.11 Cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and honey
- 2.12 Cloves and honey
- 2.13 Lemons, honey, and horehound leaves and flowers
- 2.14 Marshmallow tea
- 2.15 Horehound leaves or flowers:
- 2.16 Mustard plaster
- 2.17 Camphor or menthol rub
- 2.18 Use a humidifier
- 2.19 Use a better coughing technique
- 2.20 Cough drops
- 2.21 Antihistamines
- 2.22 Over-the-counter cough medicine
Causes of Coughing Up Clear Mucus
Below is a list of possible causes of your cough producing clear mucus. Remember to go to your doctor if you are especially concerned about your symptoms, if they are worsening dramatically, if you have a very high fever, or if they last longer than three weeks.
Cold (chest cold) or flu
Your cough with clear mucus might be caused by a viral infection, such as the common cold or flu. Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, and need to run their course. Your body will eventually eliminate the virus. However, if your symptoms are very distressing or are worrying you (or last more than three weeks), do not hesitate to visit your doctor, as a bacterial infection could be present. The common cold usually lasts for around three to seven days. If you have a high fever (above 101 degrees F), you probably have the flu rather than a cold. If a headache and muscle aches are also present, flu is the most likely culprit. Symptoms that can be present in cases of both a cold and the flu include cough, sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose, and runny nose. If you have a consistent sore throat that lasts more than five days straight, keep an eye on it and consider visiting a doctor for a throat swab.
Environmental allergies (for example, allergies to ragweed, pollen, or grass) can cause coughing in addition to the more common symptoms of stuffy nose, runny nose, and sneezing. If you have environmental allergies, your immune system is overactive. This is why it overreacts to the things you are allergic to, and creates symptoms such as cough in an attempt to rid the body of the allergens. Allergies also cause inflammation and overproduction of mucus.
Asthma can cause a cough with clear phlegm. Asthma is inflammation of the bronchi caused by an allergic response. It involves breathing difficulty. If you think you might have asthma, you must be examined by a doctor and receive medical treatment.
If you are a smoker, you might already know that smoking can cause a chronic cough. Exposure to second hand smoke can also cause a coughing response.
Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes’ mucous membranes (the lining of the tubes). Bronchitis can be caused by a variety of things. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus or bacteria. Bronchitis is usually considered to be “chronic” if you have been experiencing the symptoms for at least two full years straight, or if you have the symptoms for at least three months of the year. If you have chronic bronchitis, you will probably find that the mucus you produce is very thick. Two possible causes of chronic bronchitis include smoking and air pollution. If you feel you might have chronic bronchitis, make sure to see your doctor for treatment and advice, as your breathing can be compromised. It is especially important to consult your doctor as chronic bronchitis can be a sign of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a chronic lung disease that involves obstruction of the airflow coming from the lungs, and it requires medical treatment.
Postnasal drip can cause clear mucus to travel into the throat. If postnasal drip falls into your air passages, a cough is likely to be triggered in order for the body to clear it.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Coughing up clear mucus can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you have GERD, your stomach is leaking backwards into your esophagus, causing heartburn. If you think you might have GERD, make sure to see your doctor for advice and treatment.
Check out our other detailed article about black mucus and how to get rid of it.
Home Remedies for Cough with Clear Mucus
If your cough is caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), avoiding certain foods can help to alleviate symptoms. The foods to avoid include alcohol, coffee, chocolate, a number of foods with a high fat content, and peppermint.
If you have chronic bronchitis and are a smoker, it is crucial to stop smoking as soon as possible. If you need help in quitting the habit, see your doctor. You can also use nicotine patches, nasal sprays, and special gums. Consider availing yourself of support groups for people seeking to quit smoking.
Home remedies that will be helpful with most coughs producing clear mucus: Important notes:
- If you have GERD or think you might have GERD, consult your doctor before using any of these remedies. Some of them (such as the ginger remedy) might cause irritation of the condition.
- Whatever the cause of your cough, make sure to see your doctor if symptoms last longer than three weeks.
Honey has soothing and antibacterial qualities that make it an excellent home remedy for a cough. Honey can be swallowed by itself or mixed in warm tea. You could also mix it with coconut oil and lemon juice, which will boost its benefits.
Ginger has decongestant and antihistamine properties that can make it very effective in helping to break up mucus. There are several different ways you can take ginger. One way is to add a dozen slices of fresh ginger to a pot containing three cups of water. Heat this mixture by simmering it for 20 minutes. After that, you should strain it and add a little lemon juice and a full tablespoon of honey (you can add more honey than this, if you wish). If you find the liquid too strong to drink, make it more diluted by adding more water.
Consuming licorice candy (a type that contains real licorice root) can help with coughing. Make sure that the licorice candy you buy contains real licorice. Slice an ounce of the candy and put it in boiling water. Allow it to steep for 24 hours. You will find that sipping the resulting water will help with your cough.
Adding lemon to a hot cup of tea will be helpful in treating your cough. You can boost the power of this remedy by adding honey. If you want, you can even suck on a lemon. Some people find it helpful to sprinkle a section of lemon with pepper and salt before sucking on it.
Thyme tea is an extremely effective home remedy for coughs. This tea helps to reduce inflammation, and relax the ileal and tracheal muscles. Gather two teaspoons of crushed thyme leaves, and steep the leaves in one cup of boiling water. Once it has steeped for several minutes, strain the liquid and add lemon and honey before drinking.
Black pepper and honey
Pepper will help to shift the mucus and improve circulation, and honey will soothe your cough. Mix two tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of freshly ground pepper in a mug, and top this with boiling water. You should allow this to steep for several minutes. Once you have done so, strain the liquid and drink it slowly.
The steam of a hot shower can help to loosen the mucus and clear your chest. Please be aware that you should not use this remedy if you have asthma, as hot steam can make asthma coughs worse.
Herbal tea blends
Many health food stores and drugstores carry commercial tea blends made and marketed specifically for coughs.
Staying properly hydrated throughout the day will help to thin out your mucus. It will also help to maintain the moistness of your membranes, making the urge to cough less pervasive.
Peppermint candy in lemon juice with honey
Dissolve peppermint candy in lemon juice by heating it. Once the candy has fully dissolved in the juice, add some honey to the mixture and stir thoroughly. You should take this mixture two tablespoons at a time.
Cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and honey
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to lemon juice. Mix a small amount of honey to the mixture, and mix thoroughly. Swallow only very small amounts of this at a time, like you would do with a conventional cough syrup. You will find that the cayenne pepper boosts circulation and healing, while the lemon addresses the problem of inflammation, and the honey provides a soothing coating to the throat.
Cloves and honey
Mix one cup of honey with five cloves, and allow the mixture to cool fully in your refrigerator for several hours (preferably overnight). Once the cooling has occurred, take out the cloves and swallow the honey by the tablespoon as needed. This is an especially effective remedy for a cough that is accompanied by a sore throat.
Lemons, honey, and horehound leaves and flowers
Mix honey, horehound leaves and flowers, and three sliced lemons in a pan and simmer the mixture. When the mixture thickens, strain it and allow it to cool before taking it in doses.
Marshmallow tea helps to thin the mucus, as well as soothingly coat the throat. Steep two teaspoons of marshmallow root in one cup of hot water. You should drink three cups of marshmallow tea a day for the best effect.
Horehound leaves or flowers:
Steep two teaspoons of these leaves or flowers in one cup of boiling water. Once steeped, strain the leaves and flowers from the water, and drink.
You can use a mustard plaster as a chest rub. It will help to break up your chest congestion. In order to make a mustard plaster, mix two parts flour and one part mustard powder in a bowl, and then add small amounts of water until you have the consistency of a paste. Do not put the mustard plaster directly on the skin. Instead, you should spread the paste on a cloth or dish towel, fold the dish towel in half, and then allow that to rest on the skin. It is important that you monitor your skin in the area, as it is possible for the mustard plaster to cause irritation and redness. Using an egg white in place of water might make the plaster less likely to cause burning.
Camphor or menthol rub
You can buy a chest rub containing camphor and/or menthol from any drugstore. Apply this rub directly to the chest. It will help to break up your chest congestion and soothe your cough.
Use a humidifier
Using a humidifier, especially at night, will help to soothe your throat and chest and discourage coughing.
Use a better coughing technique
If you find your throat has been strained by constant coughing, using a new coughing technique might help. When you feel that you are about to start coughing, make an effort to have a group of gentle coughs with a large cough at the end rather than doing just one big cough. This coughing technique will help shift a greater amount of mucus more quickly. When you get to the final, big cough, you will find that more mucus will come out than it would have otherwise.
The cough drops you can find at the drugstore can be very helpful in dealing with a persistent cough. You may find natural cough drops at health food stores and some drugstores.
If you feel that allergies may play a role in your cough, take an antihistamine every day. You can find over-the-counter antihistamines at drugstores.
Over-the-counter cough medicine
You may find a variety of over-the-counter cough medicines at your local drugstore.
Here is our other article about different mucus colors and what they mean.