Phlegm is a type of mucus made in your chest. This blockage is often from a blood clot that travels from somewhere else in the body, like your leg. You may experience white phlegm with several health conditions. Antibiotics and flu vaccines can help prevent infections. Other signs are a fever, tiredness, shortness of breath, a sore throat, and a stuffy nose. There are times when phlegm is a reason to see your doctor right away. Phlegm is produced by your respiratory system as protection for your lungs. © 2005 - 2019 WebMD LLC. "i am coughing up clear phlegm with small light brown-ish specks. The mucus might be yellow, green, red, brown, or rust-colored. If you see any shade of red, brown, or black phlegm, or are experiencing frothy sputum, you should make an appointment right away. Cough prevention and…. A dry cough that brings up thick phlegm is one of the main symptoms of pneumonia. Pneumonia: This is typically a complication of another respiratory issue. If your mucus turns brown, yellow, or green, it can be an early warning sign of a flare-up. Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. Viral infections are the most common cause of acute bronchitis. White Gastro reflux can also cause people to cough up … The change occurs with the severity and length of the potential sickness. Cigarette smoke is usually the reason. The source of a cough that produces mucus has to do with irritation within the throat. The color and texture can vary widely, from clear sticky strings to stretchy yellow messes to thick green clots. Other causes of brown phlegm include small amounts of blood located in the throat or further down in the airway. The color brown often means old blood. Mucus is a normal body function. Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup. A lung abscess is a bacterial infection that occurs in the lung tissue. Early symptoms include fever, dry cough, muscle pain, and other flu-like symptoms. Your chest might feel tight or tender. GERD: This chronic condition affects your digestive system. Pink is considered another shade of red, so it may also indicate that there is blood in your phlegm, just less of it. Over time, you may start coughing up yellow and green phlegm. Is it both pink and frothy? This may also change to yellow or green if you end up getting a chest infection. If what you are coughing up is yellow or green, you probably have an infection. You’ll need antibiotics to treat bacterial pneumonia. Sinusitis: This is also known as a sinus infection. Fungal infection: A black yeast called Exophiala dermatitidis causes this infection. When you cough up phlegm, it’s called sputum. This condition is life-threatening and may also cause shortness of breath and chest pain. Cough, fever, chills, and shortness of breath are common symptoms with all types of pneumonia. It is mostly filled with water, protein, antibodies, and some dissolved salts to help lubricate and moisturize your respiratory system. Within a week after your last cigarette, your lungs start cleaning themselves. If you have cystic fibrosis or asthma, you’re more likely to have this allergy. Along with cough, night sweats, and loss of appetite, you will experience a cough that brings up brown or blood-streaked sputum. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. With pneumonia, you may cough up phlegm that is yellow, green, or sometimes bloody. Read below for more information on causes and how to treat coughing up brown or black mucus. i have had some sort of virus for about 10 days now, quit smoking 5 days ago. It may also mean you have a fungal infection that needs medical attention. It may be time to head to the doctor if you notice it in your airways, throat, or if you start coughing it up. You may also consider this color “rusty” in appearance. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease happens when your lungs get so swollen over time that air can’t flow freely. You should still keep watch over your other symptoms to see how your illness is progressing. Bacterial pneumonia:This form of pneumonia can produce phlegm that is green-brown or rust-colored. This is a painful pocket of pus wrapped in inflamed tissue. Treatment includes techniques to keep the airways clear and break up mucus, inhalers, antibiotics, enzyme supplements, and targeted fitness programs that boost energy and help your lungs work better. COPD: This condition causes your airways to narrow and your lungs to produce excess mucus. Mucus. Signs of this potentially fatal complication. If so, your doctor will call it allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. Our seven tips…. Learn about the brown phlegm we all experience from time to time and natural treatments for any type of brown mucus discharge. Seeing black phlegm may mean you have inhaled a high amount of something black, like coal dust. CF is a lifelong condition. Bacterial bronchitis: This condition can produce rusty brown sputum as it progresses. Instead of lubricating, the phlegm clogs the lungs and holds onto germs that lead to lingering infections. See your doctor if you’re producing more phlegm than normal, having intense coughing spells, or notice other symptoms like weight loss or fatigue. It may cause you to cough up thick, white sputum. Pneumonia starts with tissue swelling in one or both of your lungs. It may also cause chills, fever, cough, and chest pain. Coughing up brown mucus could mean multiple things depending on the variation in the texture and color of your mucus. However, producing excess mucus without being sick can be a sign of an underlying condition. You typically don’t produce noticeable amounts of phlegm unless you are sick with a cold or have some other underlying medical issue. Treatments for COPD include medications, pulmonary rehab, supplemental oxygen, and surgery to open up blocked pathways. This might go on for a few weeks. It’ll be stickier and thicker, and there’ll be more of it. Phlegm. Brown phlegm is less common. Harvard University: “All About That Mucus: How It Keeps Us Healthy.”, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: “What Does the Color of Phlegm Mean?”, Western Australia Department of Health: “Facts About Giving Up Smoking.”, Breathe: The Lung Association (Canada): “Recognize the Early Warning Signs of a Flare-up.”, American Lung Association: “Treating COPD,” “The Basics of Pulmonary Rehabilitation.”, Harvard Medical School: “Acute Bronchitis.”, National Health Service (UK): “Pneumonia.”, John Muir Health: “Chronic Lung Disease.”, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: “About Cystic Fibrosis.”, Mount Nittany Health: “Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis.”, Merck Manuals: “Abscess in the Lungs.”, BMJ Case Reports: “Unusual case of a lung abscess.”. Whatever the cause, brown phlegm should always prompt a visit to the GP, particularly if accompanied by a prolonged cough. It often causes bloody or blood-streaked sputum. Acute Bronchitis. Your symptoms will vary based on the type of pneumonia you have. You’ll need a course of antibiotics over at least a few weeks to clear it up. Congestive heart failure: This occurs when your heart isn’t effectively pumping blood to the rest of your body. Green or yellow phlegm is commonly caused by: Bronchitis: This usually starts off with a dry cough and eventually some clear or white phlegm. Viral bronchitis:This condition may start off with white phlegm. 7 Ways to Get Rid of Phlegm: Home Remedies, Antibiotics, and More, Acute Bronchitis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More, Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT, 5 Natural Expectorants to Kill Your Cough, Everything You Need to Know About Pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). All rights reserved. Learn about how to get rid of phlegm, both at home and at the doctor's office. As such, coughing up mucus is not a surefire indicator that illness is present and, neither is coughing up brown mucus. 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