What Causes Pneumonia Cough
The cough reflex is your bodys most important weapon against pneumonia. People who cant cough properly are at a higher risk of getting pneumonia in the first place.
You need three things for a cough:
Cough-triggering sensors are in the back of the throat, airways, stomach, diaphragm, and the lining of your heart. Pneumonia cough is mainly triggered by sensors in your upper and lower airways.
When you are suffering from pneumonia, your airways are inflamed. You have increased secretions in your airways caused by the immune system. You also have germs causing the pneumonia and dead cells that need to be replaced. All these things act as triggers for the cough sensors.
The cough reflex happens suddenly, and you cant stop it once it is triggered. Cough sensors activate the cough center in the brain, triggering three events in order:
Compressing air in the second step can produce a very high pressure, similar to that created by water 13 feet deep. The rapid release can blow air as fast as 500 miles per hour. This force can clear away germs and irritants.
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What Does The Colour Of Your Phlegm Mean From A Cold To Pneumonia And Even Lung Cancer We Break Down How The Hue Of Your Mucus Reflects Your Health
- Green-yellow stained phlegm is usually a sign your body is fighting an infection, such as a cold or flu
- Brown phlegm that appears rusty is often due to old blood in the mucus, which can occur in pneumonia
- White phlegm can be a sign of viral bronchitis or gastro reflux disease, as well as congestive heart failure
- Red or pink may be due to an advanced lung infection, like TB, or even lung cancer in severe cases
As the icy weather approaches, many start coughing and spluttering while they battle winter colds and flu.
Although for most coughing up mucus is part of the cold season, coloured phlegm can be a sign of something more sinister.
From green and yellow to red and even black, off-hue mucus can signal everything from pneumonia, TB and, in severe cases, lung cancer.
Below, MailOnline breaks down the different colours of mucus and what they could mean for your health.
Green phlegm is often a sign of a cold or flu, while clear generally means a person is healthy but can also be overproduced if they are suffering from hay fever. Black mucus may be produced in response to a fungal infection and brown can be a result of pneumonia. White can signal bronchitis, while red may be a sign a person has TB or even congestive heart failure
Phlegm is a type of mucus produced in the chest, which we make every day to clear irritations from our throats and keep our airways moist.
However, it is not until most become unwell that they even notice they are coughing it up.
Charcoal Or Gray Phlegm
We tend to see charcoal or sooty looking phlegm in people who work in coal mines and factories or are really heavy smokers.
If you work in a factory where theres a ton of smoke and dont wear a mask, youre inhaling all that in and its causing an inflammatory reaction in your airways that produces phlegm. The irritants are mixed in with the phlegm and when you cough, it comes out.
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Food Is Medicine This Is Your Prescription
There are smaller treatments you can take to temporarily numb the pain. You can suck on cough drops, lozenges, or hard candy. Take acetaminophen, cough medicine, or drink hot tea. Even a delicious frozen treat can provide some sweet relief basically, you have an excuse to eat a little extra ice cream.
Many of the COVID symptoms can last longer than the actual infection. It varies from person to person.
Should I Worry About Coughing Up Green Mucus
Coughing is bad enough, but when green mucus comes up in the process, it can be alarming. Ifyou cough up mucus occasionally without any other red flags, its probably not serious. If yoursymptoms are severe, linger on and on, or if they are accompanied by other symptoms, you may need medical treatment.
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When To See Your Doctor
While phlegm is a normal part of the respiratory system, it isnt normal if its affecting your everyday life. It may be time to head to the doctor if you notice it in your airways, throat, or if you start coughing it up.
If your sputum is clear, yellow, or green, you may be safe to wait a few days or even weeks before making an appointment. You should still keep watch over your other symptoms to see how your illness is progressing.
If you see any shade of red, brown, or black phlegm, or are experiencing frothy sputum, you should make an appointment right away. This may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
It can be difficult to self-diagnose what type of lung issue youre having. A doctor can perform a variety of tests including X-rays and sputum analyses to determine the cause.
If youre not sure whats causing the change in color or are experiencing other unusual symptoms, see your doctor.
How To Treat Coughing Up Of Green Yellow Mucus Or Phlegm
Bringing up greenish yellow mucus in a cough is usually a symptom of an infection in your chest or airways. Therefore, treating a yellow phlegm cough usually requires addressing the underlying cause.
However, there are some helpful home remedies that help to treat a phlegmy cough.
- Get plenty of rest. Resting gives your body a chance to recover quicker from the flu or viral infection.
- Steam inhalation to loosen mucus. Put a few drops of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil in a bowl of boiling water. Put your head over the bowl, cover with a towel, and breathe deeply for 10 minutes to loosen thick gooey mucus.
- Chicken soup. There is actually some scientific research that chicken soup helps to cure colds quickly. A compound found in chicken soup actually has anti-flu properties and can reduce inflammation in the airways.14
- Drink ginger tea.Drinking ginger tea with or without lemon helps to increase fluid intake and boost your immunity. In fact, studies have shown that ginger tea can help treat upper respiratory infections and ease chest congestion.15
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What Does Brown Phlegm Mean
You may also consider this color rusty in appearance. The color brown often means old blood. You may see this color after your phlegm appears red or pink.
Brown phlegm is commonly caused by:
Bacterial pneumonia: This form of pneumonia can produce phlegm that is green-brown or rust-colored.
Bacterial bronchitis: This condition can produce rusty brown sputum as it progresses. Chronic bronchitis may also be a possibility. You may be more at risk for developing chronic bronchitis if you smoke or are often exposed to fumes and other irritants.
Cystic fibrosis: This chronic lung disease may cause rust-colored sputum.
Pneumoconiosis: Inhaling different dusts, like coal, asbestos, and silicosis can cause this incurable lung disease. It can cause brown sputum.
Lung abscess: This is a cavity filled with pus inside your lungs. Its usually surrounded by infected and inflamed tissue. Along with cough, night sweats, and loss of appetite, you will experience a cough that brings up brown or blood-streaked sputum. This phlegm also smells foul.
Where Do Mucus And Phlegm Come From
According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, mucus lines many of the tissues and organs in the body. The purpose of mucus is to trap bacteria, irritants, or other foreign objects to prevent infection or inflammation. This thick gunk from your bronchi can be any color from bright yellow to dark green. If you have chronic coughing, you may notice very dark phlegm or blood-tinged mucus.2
This can also clog up the nasal passages and be a reason why you have yellow or green boogers.
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Coughing Up Green Or Yellow Mucus Chunks
If you are coughing up thick yellow or green mucus, you may notice that there appear to be chunks in the mucus. Mucus with green or yellow chunks is often the result of serious bronchitis infection causing very thick, clumpy mucus.
Sometimes, a lack of fluid can make the phlegm thicker and appear chunky.
How Is Pneumonia Treated
The goals of pneumonia treatment include minimizing the risk of serious complications and controlling symptoms to allow you to rest and recover. Mild to moderate cases of pneumonia that occur in generally healthy adults may be treated at home. More severe cases of pneumonia or cases in infants, older adults, or people with chronic diseases often require hospitalization.
Treatment of bacterial pneumonia includes medications. Antibiotics are not effective for treating viral pneumonia. A serious type of bacterial pneumonia called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia can be very difficult to treat because the bacteria that cause are resistant to the effects of antibiotics.
Treatment of pneumonia generally includes:
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What Are The Sinuses
The sinuses are hollow spaces in the skull and the face bones around your nose. There are four pairs of sinuses, named for the bones that theyre located in:
- The maxillary sinuses are located on each side of your nose, near the cheek bones.
- The frontal sinuses are located above the eyes, near your forehead.
- The ethmoid sinuses are located on each side of the bridge of your nose, near your eyes. There are three small pairs of the ethmoid sinuses.
- The sphenoid sinuses are behind the eyes, deeper into your skull.
These sinuses collectively are called the paranasal sinuses.
The name sinus comes from the Latin word sinus, which means a bay, a curve, or a hollow cavity.
How Long Will The Phlegm Last
The duration of the phlegm in your system depends on the cause.
- For bacterial infections, even without antibiotics, it can be self-limiting and will go away in 10 to 14 days.
- Viral infections can last a little longer, so sometimes up to three weeks depending on the season.
- Inflammatory conditions like asthma and COPD typically dont necessarily get better unless the disease is treated more aggressively.
Remember, your body is doing its job when phlegm is being produced. It shows that its addressing some sort of assault, be it an infection or an allergy or an irritant thats in your lungs or your sinuses thats how your body fights those assaults.
Dr. Jonathan Parsons is the associate director of clinical services and director of the asthma center in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
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How Bronchitis And Pneumonia Are Treated
Treatments for both bronchitis and pneumonia depend on the underlying cause, such as whether its bacterial or viral.
Bacterial pneumonia and acute bronchitis are both treated with antibiotics. For viral cases, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug. However, theyll likely suggest you get a few days of rest and drink plenty of fluids while you recover.
If you have chronic bronchitis, your doctor may prescribe a breathing treatment or steroid drug that you inhale into your lungs. The medicine helps to reduce inflammation and clear mucus from your lungs.
For more severe cases, your doctor might also prescribe supplemental oxygen to help you breathe. Its also important to avoid smoking or exposure to the substance that caused your bronchitis.
Regardless of the cause, follow these tips to speed up your healing time:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids to loosen up the mucus in your lungs. Water, clear juices, or broths are the best choices. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can be dehydrating.
- Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory to reduce a fever and soothe body aches.
- Turn on a humidifier to loosen up the mucus in your lungs.
- Ask your doctor about using an over-the-counter cough remedy if your cough is keeping you up at night or making it hard to sleep.
Positioning Exercises To Clear Phlegm
Your lungs have 5 lobes in total and phlegm can be in any of these.
Positioning exercises use gravity to help clear phlegm that has built up in your lobes.
How effective they are will depend on the thickness or stickiness of your phlegm. It may be harder to clear thick phlegm. These exercises may not work if your phlegm is very thick and sticky.
Wait for at least 1 hour after a large meal before starting these exercises. Stop an exercise if you have heartburn or feel sick during it.
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When To Call Your Primary Care Provider
If your child is 3 months old or younger, call your primary care provider whenever your child has nasal or chest congestion.
If your child is more than 4 months old, call your primary care provider if your child:
- Has had thick nasal discharge lasting more than 10 days
- Has a barking cough
- Coughs with exercise
- Has a wheezing cough
- Is coughing up thick greenish-yellow phlegm
- Has a fever that rises repeatedly to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Has a fever with temperature higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit for more than three days
- Has ear pain
- Has swelling or dark circles around the eyes
- Is having trouble sleeping
- Has symptoms of allergies that are interfering with daily activities and you want to know if a specialist might be able to help
Seek emergency care if your child:
- Is having trouble breathing or is taking short, rapid breaths
- Has bluish lips or fingernails
Treatments are different depending on the cause of the congestion. Your childs primary care provider can tell you what steps to take to relieve symptoms and help your child get better.
Is There A Seasonal Pattern To The Congestion
- The cold and the flu tend to hit in the fall and winter.
- Recurring nasal congestion in the spring, summer or fall, especially if it happens every year, could indicate allergies to pollen from trees, grass or weeds.
- Chronic year-round nasal congestion could be a sign of allergy to dust mites or pets.
- Chronic nasal congestion can also be seen in children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
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How Long Does Pneumonia Cough Last
Most coughs from pneumonia last for 2 weeks. Some people have significant coughs for 3 weeks. About 20% of people may have lingering coughs for a month. It is very uncommon for pneumonia cough to last longer than six weeks. If you still have coughs six weeks after pneumonia, you need to see your doctor to make sure you havent developed anything else.
With regular community-acquired pneumonia, early coughs are usually associated with lots of phlegm. When pneumonia is active, there is significant inflammation inside your lungs. White blood cells and fluids rush to your lungs to fight the infection. Your cough helps get rid of these waste products in the form of thick, yellow phlegm. After about a week, your cough may produce more of a rusty-colored phlegm, as WBCs decrease while dried blood and dead cells increase. As more time passes, you may have more dry coughs than coughs with phlegm.
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What Kind Of Congestion Is It
- A runny or stuffy nose with thin, clear fluid, accompanied by sneezing are common symptoms of a cold.
- A clear runny or stuffy nose and sneezing can also be seen in environmental allergies, which often also cause an itchy nose and itchy, watery, red or swollen eyes.
- Thick, green nasal discharge and a cough are typically signs of a cold or other infection such as sinusitis.
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Best Medicine For Treatment
Treating infection in a timely manner is imperative especially those affecting the respiratory tract. Infections may build up to become some really severe or serious conditions that could be fatal.
Not treating upper respiratory tract infections could complicate into a lower respiratory infection. Depending on the cause of the infection, it will require that you either manage or treat then prevent futuristic infections of similar nature.
This is what you can use:
Antibiotics and analgesia: antibacterial and antifungal agents would be prescribed for the treatment of the infections. For instance, the treatment of pneumonia would involve the administration of a penicillin or a cephalosporin so as to treat the Strep. Pneumonia.
This could be co-administered with a macrolide antibiotic such as erythromycin. Amoxicillin/clavulanic acid could be indicated for the treatment of bronchitis.
For the pleuritic pain associated with some infections such as pneumonia, pain will have to be managed with the administration of an analgesic drug so as to recover from shallow breathing and the cough. The analgesics also reduce the inflammation in such conditions.
Expectorant, mucolytics and antitussive cough syrups: the cough is another condition that needs to be treated. In as much as cough syrups are said to have limited benefit in treatment, they in deed have been shown to improve the comfort of the patient.
Coughing Up Green Or Yellow Mucus: What It Means
Jenny Hills, Nutritionist and Medical Writer Health
Coughing up green or yellow mucus usually means that you have some kind of a respiratory infection caused by a virus or bacteria. A yellow or greenish sputum is typical of the flu, bronchitis, sinusitis, or chest infection. Coughing up thick phlegm that is dark yellow or thick green can mean that the irritation is deep in your airways.
Coughing is usually the best way to expel thick yellow or green mucus from your airways. Some natural remedies can help to loosen phlegm and make coughing up the colorful sticky goop easier. For example, ginger tea has amazing antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities that help to reduce the severity of respiratory infections.
You dont always need an antibiotic to treat thick yellow mucus because antibiotics dont work for viral infections. However, if a bronchial infection is due to bacterial bronchitis or bacterial pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to get rid of yellow mucus.
In this article, you will find out what bringing up yellow or green mucus means. You will also learn when green or yellow phlegm is a sign of an infection.
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