Catarrh, or excess mucus (often in the throat), is more than just a nuisance. If left unaddressed, it can cause headaches, persistent coughing, runny nose, and overall discomfort points out the Health Service Executive (HSE). These symptoms usually subside within a few days or weeks and don’t require emergency care.
In more severe cases, they may become chronic and last for months or even years. Mucus has a protective role, explains the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This slimy substance lines your mouth, nose, eyes, and other organs, keeping them moist.
At the same time, it filters out bacteria, debris, and dust. “People think about it as something you’re supposed to cough up and get out. That it’s a bad thing. But in truth, mucus really is the interface between you and the outside world,” lung expert Richard Boucher told the NIH.
Sometimes, your body produces excess mucus in response to infection, allergies, or external factors, such as cold weather. For example, the common cold or hay fever can increase mucus production, according to the HSE. Nasal polyps may play a role, too.
Treatment depends on the cause, but there are a number of remedies that can help. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best ways to get rid of mucus in the throat and prevent complications. One of the first things you should do to reduce excess mucus is to use saline nasal sprays. These products help remove allergens from the nasal cavity while moisturizing the sinuses and nasal passages, notes WebMD.
At the same time, they may decrease inflammation and thin the mucus, which allows you to eliminate it more easily. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recommends mixing half a teaspoon of table salt and a pint of cooled boiled water to make a saline rinse. Use a bulb syringe to pour a few drops into each nostril, aiming towards the back of your head, and then blow your nose.
The NHS also suggests avoiding allergens and irritants, such as cigarette smoke. Air conditioning and warm, dry air can worsen your symptoms, but you may use a humidifier or place several bowls of water in your room to control moisture. Staying hydrated and gargling salt water can help, too, says Healthline. If your symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend medication.
Excess mucus in the throat may also be due to an underlying condition, such as laryngopharyngeal reflux. This problem occurs when stomach contents travel up to the esophagus and nasal or sinus cavities. Its symptoms include a sore throat, coughing, excess mucus, post-nasal drip, and difficulty swallowing. You may need to take medication and make some lifestyle changes, such as cutting back on chocolate and other acidic foods and taking small, frequent meals.