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Jake asked...

Constantly phlegmy

Hi, I have been constantly phlegmy for the last 6 or 7 months. Mostly in the morning but also when brushing my teeth at night - is this allergies or could it be more serious? Sometimes white, sometimes clear and sometimes with blood.

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The answer

Catarrh or phlegm is a build up of mucus which affects the nasal passages, sinuses and throat.

It is a harmless condition which usually presents for short periods of time but can become an on going issue.

Symptoms of the presence of catarrh include a runny or blocked nose, trickling of catarrh down the back of your throat, a persistent cough or need to clear the throat, discomfort to the face around the sinuses and headaches.

Catarrh is usually present when there is inflammation present due to infection, reaction to allergens, nasal polyps or due to gastric reflux.

Treatment usually involves the use of decongestants, saline drops or sprays and anti- histamines in order to ease some of the uncomfortable symptoms experienced.

Treatment can also be assisted by making changes to life style by avoiding smoky and dry atmospheres, avoiding dehydration, reducing cigarette use, ensuring good personal and house hygiene therefore reducing allergen presence and reducing dairy product intake.

Jake, you say that this has been going on for several months now- we think it would be a good idea to visit your GP so that an initial assessment as to the potential cause for your discomfort can be made.

Initial tests could be done to exclude infections of the ears, sinuses and chest.

Your GP may then wish to refer you for further investigations or to an ENT specialist to eliminate he presence of polyps, deviation of the nasal septum or other causative factors.

When you see your GP it would also be appropriate to discuss medication use as often over the counter medication should only be used initially on a short term basis.

Further reading:

www.nhs.uk/conditions/catarrh www.allergyuk.org www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergies

In relation to the colour of the catarrh you will find that if it is clear or white that this is unlikely to be of a concerning nature.

Usually if the catarrh is green or yellow then infection may well be present.

Where there is some blood present this may be due to slight trauma of the nasal passages and throat due to sneezing and coughing.

The consistency of the phlegm will be influenced by how hydrated you are.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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