Coughing up brown mucus or brown phlegm from chest or throat can mean an infection or simply lung pollution. Some people cough up thick dark brown chunks after quitting smoking. Here’s insight on the causes and what to do when you have this symptom every morning.
Your mucus color can provide valuable information on the current condition of your lungs. It is vital to understand that mucus is a normal phenomenon that comes with having a chest or cold infection. Even though mucus can be quite gross to look at, it plays an important role in the body as it assists in providing protection to the mucus-making tissues that are found in the lungs, sinuses, mouth, GI tract, as well as in the nose.
- It provides this protection to ensure that the surfaces will not become dry.
- Under normal circumstances, mucus can come in a wide range of colors ranging from green, yellow to brown.
- When you start coughing up brown mucus, it will be vital to make sure that you take immediate note of this, as it is an indication that you are suffering from more than a mere cold.
Below, we are going to look at the causes, remedies, treatment options, and how to prevent coughing up brown mucus.
Coughing up brown mucus meaning
Whenever a person develops a hacking cough emanating from deep down inside their lungs, it is not uncommon for them to cough up phlegm—a gel-like substance. Normally, you may not think much of this substance, but associating the color of the mucus with your current health status can tell you a lot about some of the pathogens that have recently invaded your body.
According to Dr. Mathew Exline, a critical care expert and pulmonologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center:
The human body can be described as a mucus-manufacturing machine, as it produces between one and one point five liters of mucus each day, even when it is not healthy. If you find that you are coughing up large amounts of mucus, then it means that you may have an allergic reaction or an infection.
Smokers tend to produce a lot of brown mucus, which in many cases is combined with saliva to form a grainy like texture. Smoking excessively may cause your mucus to start turning brown in color due to the tar, particulate matters, and resin that is present in cigarettes. For people who do not smoke, it is still possible to produce brown mucus because of the kinds of foods that they could be consuming e.g. red wine, coffee, and chocolate.
Why am I coughing up brown mucus?
It is considered one of the primary causes of coughing up brownish mucus, due to the combination of nicotine, tar, and resins that are accumulating in your lung and bronchial passages. For heavy smokers, they are likely to exhibit symptoms such as:
- Extreme coughing
- Brown nails that have an offensive nicotine odor
In the long run, the chain smokers may end up with chronic bronchitis. The condition can in some cases lead to the development of lung emphysema. This is the outcome from the damage that is caused by smoke and nicotine finding its way into your lung air sacs. With time, this condition will make it very difficult for you to get enough oxygen into your lungs.
Once you have this condition, you may be required to make use of:
- Lung reduction surgery
- Oxygen therapy
- Lung transplants
To avoid dealing with the complications associated with coughing up brown mucus, it is recommended that you consider quitting smoking today. If you cannot be able to take this step, then at least consider cutting back on your nicotine intake.
The reason you are coughing up a brownish looking phlegm could be because you are experiencing acid reflux. It occurs when food you had ingested is regurgitated, which in turn changes the color of your phlegm. It is mostly true in cases where the affected person had consumed red wine, coffee, or chocolate. You should note that if the brown phlegm has been brought about by acid indigestion, there is a high probability that you could also notice bowel mucus. This is a common indication of irritable bowel syndrome.
Coughing up brown mucus may also be an indication of nose bleeding. This is something that is normally caused by nasal polyps. The polyps are often the cause of continued irritation to your skin, which lines your nose as well as the sinuses. In the long run, this could lead to nasal bleeding, which means that you may start noticing dried blood turning the color of your mucus brown.
Excessive alcohol use could also lead to the development of upper respiratory tract infections. If this was to occur, it would lead to inflammation in your throat and lungs, and in some cases, this becomes the primary underlying cause of coughing up brownish looking mucus. Consuming certain alcoholic drinks will mean that you could also see the color of the mucus begin to change.
Exposure to environmental factors
Do you currently reside in an area that has highly polluted air? It could be the reason why your phlegm is beginning to turn brownish in color. Additionally, you may end up coughing brown mucus after you have taken part in cleaning a room that was previously very dusty. These tinny dirt and dust particles may end up finding their way into your throat where they will then start accumulating.
Due to the accumulation of these particles, there is a very big chance that your mucus will change its color and become grainy and brownish. However, the good news is that the condition is temporary, and will resolve itself when you change your environment.
You will find that there are also serious causes, which could lead to the development of brown phlegm. Some of them include respiratory and lung infections. When you have a respiratory infection, your lungs will immediately begin producing excess mucus.
The excess mucus assists in trapping foreign matter as well as bacteria that could be causing this condition. Additionally, brown phlegm may also be an indication that you have chronic bronchitis or be an indication of more serious health conditions such as lung cancer or emphysema.
Coughing up thick brown mucus in the morning
For smokers, it is not uncommon to find them producing brown phlegm. In most cases, this phlegm is combined with saliva, and it ends up having a very grainy texture. Smoking too much means that your mucus will in the long run starting brownish in color due to all the resin and tar that is found in your cigars.
According to Exline, the human body will at some point try to cough up all the foreign matter that has accumulated in the passageways, and this is how your mucus ends up becoming brown in color. As mentioned above, smokers are not the only people who can brown mucus, as nonsmokers can also produce this type of mucus, depending on the type of food that they have consumed.
When you are coughing up brown mucus, you may notice related symptoms, which may include:
- Having a sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- A bleeding nose that is accompanied by the appearance of brown specks or spots in your mucus
- Chest pain and coughing up brownish looking mucus, which may seem like darkish brown blood clots.
Coughing up mucus with dark brown specks after quitting smoking
Have you recently quit smoking, and then noticed the appearance of brown specks in your mucus? Worry not, as this is among many symptoms that are experienced by people who have recently given up smoking. Below is information on why you cough up dark brown mucus after you have stopped smoking, and what you can do to deal with this problem.
It is public knowledge that smoking is not a good habit. However, it is not easy for one to make the decision to quit this habit, especially if one was a habitual smoker. The very first step you need to take is to muster enough strength and will power to make the decision to do away with this habit. You have to understand that the risks that come with smoking far outweigh the pleasure or satisfaction derived from smoking.
Is it normal for you to cough up black mucus after you have quit smoking?
When you make the decision to do away with this habit, you must ensure that you are mentally prepared to deal with the various withdrawal symptoms that are sure bound to follow. You need to remember that nicotine is naturally addictive, which is the main reason why you must be prepared to fight off the temptation to go back to smoking.
Immediately you stop smoking, the withdrawal symptoms will start making an appearance. They include:
- Tingling sensations
Smoking is known to damage the body’s defense system against environmental pollutants or pathogens that are known to cause diseases. As such, you will find that your lungs as well as airways will become inflamed, and toxins, together with the mucus being produced will end up being trapped inside your nose. Therefore, when you eventually quit smoking, your body will attempt to get rid of all these harmful chemicals.
All these toxins and chemicals that had been accumulated will be expelled from your body in the form of dark brown mucus. You will notice that the duration that you will cough up this type of mucus will vary depending on your past smoking habits. It may take habitual smokers, who have poor lung functioning much longer for them to recover.
Sore throat and coughing up brown mucus
Sore throat is one of the common symptoms of a cold. If you notice that you are coughing up dark brown mucus accompanied by a sore throat, it means that you could be suffering from a bacterial infection. It is therefore recommended that you make an appointment with your primary care physician so that you can be checked out, before being provided with a good treatment plan.
Home remedies for coughing up brown mucus
Have you been feeling as though your throat or nasal cavity is blocked? Are you feeling annoyed with the frequent sneezing and coughing bouts? These are some of the symptoms, which indicate that you have phlegm in your throat.
There are symptoms that may lead to severe fitness conditions. They include the following:
- Breathing difficulties
- Runny nose
Even though phlegm is not deemed to be dangerous, it may end up clogging the bronchial tubes, which in many cases results in upper respiratory tract infection. Factors such as flu, colds, excessive smoking, and viral infections are known to cause phlegm. Keep in mind that phlegm can be very irritating as well as being uncomfortable. The good news, however, is that there are remedies that can be relied upon to assist in curing this condition. Some of the remedies include:
Honey and ginger
Ginger is one the preferred home remedies as it contains numerous medicinal properties, which can be used to treat varying medical conditions. It contains compounds that assist in minimizing symptoms associated with cold and coughs, while at the same times assisting in soothing the infected respiratory tract system.
What to do at home
- Measure a hundred grams of fresh ginger and ensure that you remove the outer skin covering the root
- Carefully crush your ginger root
- Take two tablespoons of raw honey and proceed to add it to the ginger root that you have just crushed
- Microwave this remedy for at least thirty seconds
- Make sure to consume two tablespoons of this concoction each day
- The concoction should be taken two times each day for the next three days
It comes in handy in assisting to treat throat infections, which could be causing the appearance of the brown mucus. For people who suffer from a buildup of mucus in their nasal and throat passages, they will find that cayenne pepper makes it possible for the respiratory system to release all this mucus.
What to do at home
- Measure half a tablespoon of white pepper and proceed to grind it very gently
- You will then need to add one teaspoon of honey to this mixture
- Take this blend and place it in your microwave for the next ten seconds
- Once this time has elapsed, take the blend and chomp it
After consuming the blend, you can expect to feel instant relief. Herbal experts recommend that individuals take this mixture at least three times each day, for the next seven days. This is meant to guarantee satisfactory results.
According to the Natural Home Remedies for Life, chickpea powder, used in preparing chicken soup comes with important anti-inflammatory properties, which prevent the occurrence of some of the nasty side effects that are associated with having a cold, with the primary side effect being coughing. Additionally, chicken soup also comes with cysteine—it is an ingredient, which assists in making phlegm much thinner.
What to do at home
- Measure a single tablespoon of oil and place it in your pain. Combine it with three tablespoons of the chickpea powder.
- Fry the blend until you notice it start turning brown in color
- Once this has happened, proceed to add a single tablespoon of honey, and two tablespoons of almonds into the blend. In addition, measure thirty ounces of tap water and add it into this blend
- Stir the blend gently before removing it from the fire. It is recommended that you consume this particular concoction three times each day for between four and six days
Lemons and onions
You can also combine lemons and onions to come up with a mixture that will make it possible for you to deal with the brown mucus.
What to do at home
- Take your onion and carefully peel off the outer skin
- Put it in a grinder
- Cut your lemons into two halves and squeeze them to extract the juice. Combine the lemon and onion juices
- You will then need to take that blend and place it in a cup of boiling water
- You should allow the concoction to boil for a minimum of three minutes
- Take your blend and remove it from the source of heat. Ensure you add a single teaspoon of honey into the concoction, and then allow it enough time for it cool down
- You have to make sure that you drink one cup of this concoction three times each day until you notice the symptoms begin to disappear
For a long time now, grapes have been known to be expectorant. This means that they can assist in soothing the lungs, while at the same time playing a role in unclogging the phlegm that is blocking your airways.
What to do at home
- Measure two teaspoons of grape juice and combine them with two teaspoons of honey
- You have to make sure that you take this concoction at least three times a day
Lemon has citric acid that is known to contain potent antiseptic properties. Combining lemon with honey leads to the creation of a blend that comes in handy in loosening phlegm. Additionally, it can also assist in soothing dry throats. As you are preparing the tea, ensure that you add a single tablespoon of honey into the blend so as to sweeten it.