Coughing up thick green mucus is usually a harmless condition and often occurs as a symptom of the natural response of the body in its fight against bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. However, if this type of mucus persists for more than 2 days, then consult a doctor as it can be a sign of conditions like flu or cold, air dryness, allergic reactions, candida albicans yeast infection, bronchitis, nasal polyps, or sinusitis, etc.
Bacterial infection of the respiratory system marked by coughing up green mucus may be accompanied by additional symptoms like high fever that persists for over 3 days, nasal congestion, blood in nasal discharge, and sinus pain.
Serious cases of green mucus in cough is treated as per the underlying causative condition. For example, bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics, self-care, and other medications.
Coughing up thick green mucus may be an indication of the below listed underlying conditions:
- Common cold: Common cold is marked by a dry cough which can cause inflammation of the throat and a runny nose. This can eventually result in mucus discoloration and coughing up green mucus.
- Bronchitis: It is a condition marked by swelling and inflammation of the airways between the lungs and the nose, or the bronchial tubes. Such swelling can prevent the patient from inhaling adequate quantities of oxygen which in turn causes varied problems in breathing. Green mucus in cough is one of the noticeable signs of bronchitis. It can also be deemed as an indicator that some kind of bacterial infection of the airways and respiratory system may have occurred.
- Viral infections: Flu and other viral infections are regarded as the most prevalent cause of coughing up green mucus. Most patients also experience a variety of additional symptoms like extreme body pain, sinus headache, sore or dry throat, and high fever.
- Rhinitis: Hay fever or rhinitis is a condition marked by inflammation and discomforting irritation of the nasal cavities. Caused by an allergic reaction to allergens like pollen, dust, smoke, etc., rhinitis is accompanied by symptoms like coughing up green mucus, nasal drainage, sleep disorders, runny nose, and ear problems. Patients need to see a specialist for identification of the allergens and relevant treatment. Desensitizing therapy is one treatment option.
- Sinus infection: The health if the sinus cavities is dependent on the constant movement of and mucus from the nasal cavities to the sinus cavities via the tiny sinus cavity openings. Sinus infections marked by coughing up green mucus typically starts as a reaction to environmental allergens like smog, pollen, smoke, house dust, and chemical fumes, etc. This allergic reaction is marked by irritation and occasional inflammation of the nasal cavity, sinus membranes, and the upper airways. Sinus membranes can occasionally be irritated by a virus, thereby causing sinus infections, drainage, and discharge of clear and later yellow mucus. The mucus will stagnate, accumulate, and thus facilitate the growth of bacteria or other germs. When viral bacterial infection finally sets in, then the patient may begin coughing up green mucus. Presence of an underlying infection can be confirmed when such green mucus occurs along with bad breath. Green mucus is usually thicker than normal mucus; it can produce sinus pressure and sinus congestion, which in turn can trigger sinus pain and a severe headache known as sinus headache.
- Cases of sinus infections that continue for several days can trigger a case of rhinitis, thereby increasing the vulnerability of the membranes and the risk of bacterial or viral infections of the respiratory system. Hence, all instances of sinus infections need to be treated promptly.
- Smoking: The smoke of cigarettes contains excessive levels of toxins. The body produces equally large quantities of mucus to combat and clear such toxic matter. The mucus produced is thick and it often gets trapped in the air passageways, which then lays the foundations for infection by viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.
Treatment of coughing up thick green mucus
All cases of green mucus in cough need to be checked by a doctor. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics and other medications for bacterial infections. Cough suppressants need to be avoid as they inhibit coughing which prevent the removal of mucus from the body, thereby increasing the overall levels of toxic green mucus in the body.
Minor cases of coughing up green mucus can be alleviated with the below listed home remedies:
- Keep the body hydrated by drinking lots of water
- Take hot showers and breathe in the steam to alleviate nasal congestion
- Gargle with warm saltwater to get relief
- Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil in boiling water and then deeply inhale the steam.
- Drinking hot mint or eucalyptus tea or hot soup can help decongest the chest and thin the mucus
- Green mucus can naturally become thin by eating spicy foods
- Avoid candies, carbonated beverages, ice-creams, sugary cereals, and milkshakes.