podcast tracking

How to Deal with Throat Congestion

Throat congestion is a common problem, and it can be highly irritating; here’s how you can treat it effectively.

Throat congestion is a common problem but it’s easily treatable. That clogged throat feeling could be the result of a common cold or allergies, but either way, that tickle in your throat is more often than not downright irritating. Here we go through what throat congestion is, the common symptoms like phlegm and causes, as well as how to treat it.

What Exactly Is Throat Congestion?

Throat congestion happens when excess mucus from your nose drips down the back of your throat and gets stuck.

Often what happens is that your nasal passage will become congested, and your body will still continue to produce mucus to fight off harmful bacteria or pollutants. Still, that mucus has nowhere to go except your throat.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you’re probably suffering from throat congestion:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Productive cough: meaning you cough up phlegm and mucus
  • Inability to clear your throat (that incessant tickle that won’t go away)
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Mild headache or body aches
  • Fever

What Causes Congestion In the Throat?

There are a few health conditions that may trigger excess mucus production and throat congestion – these include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Infections like the common cold
  • Lung diseases like chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Excess mucus production may also result from lifestyle and environmental factors like:

  • A dry indoor environment
  • Low consumption of water and other fluids
  • High consumption of fluids that may lead to fluid loss: caffeine and alcohol
  • Certain medications
  • Smoking

How To Get Rid Of Throat Congestion

Even though the symptoms of throat congestion can be annoying and sometimes painful, there are a few remedies or things you can  do to get relief:

  • Take a hot shower: Inhaling the steam in a hot shower helps to loosen up the thick mucus membranes making it easier to cough them up and blow them out. Loose phlegm is much easier to take it out from your nose.
  • Use a humidifier: Humidifiers help to moisten the air you breathe in. It might even help tp add some eucalyptus oil to the humidifier. It’s a good way to get rid of stuck mucus.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking enough fluids thins mucus from the inside out, and drinking water is the best way to do this. If you prefer to drink other liquids, make sure it’s caffeine-free since caffeine dehydrates you. When you are dehydrated, your mucus becomes thick and sticky, creating excess phlegm, making you prone to congestion.
  • Spice it up: Increase your intake of lemon, ginger, garlic, and other spices like turmeric that have been linked to respiratory health. While more research needs to be done on these remedies, their use is not harmful and may be worth trying. You can try drinking lemon ginger tea or adding a little more garlic to your food; spicy foods that contain capsaicin, like chili peppers, can also break up mucus.
  • Gargle with warm salt water: Try gargling with warm salt water for 30-60 seconds to help remove any phlegm stuck in the throat. The salt will also help to kill harmful bacteria and promote relief and recovery.
  • Try over-the-counter decongestants: The most common medicine for throat congestion is decongestants, which help relieve congestion or stuffiness. You should consult with your doctor to find the best one for you, but common ones include oxymetazoline (Vicks Sinex) and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).

If you are suffering from throat congestion, the more mucus or phlegm you get out of your body, the better. So it’s essential to stay hydrated, keep your environment moist, and cough and blow your nose as much as possible. If your symptoms don’t improve and your throat congestion becomes an ongoing issue you should get in touch with a medical professional for an official diagnosis and treatments.

Book an appointment with a professional medical doctor through the Air Doctor app and get the help you need today.


How do I get rid of phlegm?

Try a few things like humidifying your air staying hydrated and trying over-the-counter decongestants. If none of these alleviate your symptoms, then you should chat to your doctor about trying another treatment for the phlegm you have.

Is it normal to have mucus stuck in the throat for months?

In most cases, mucus and related congestion will clear up within 7 to 9 days. But some people experience this for months or even years. This is what is known as chronic catarrh. Speak to your doctor about what you can do to alleviate persisting mucus.

How can I get rid of mucus in my throat naturally?

By gargling with warm salt water, keeping the air in your environment humid with a humidifier, staying hydrated, elevating your head, avoiding irritants and triggers, and avoiding smoking.

When should I see a doctor for phlegm and throat congestion?

It is advisable to see a doctor for phlegm and throat congestion in the following situations:

  • Persistent or worsening symptoms: If your symptoms of phlegm and throat congestion persist for more than a week or worsen over time, it is recommended to seek medical attention. This could indicate an underlying condition that requires further evaluation and treatment.
  • High fever: If you develop a high fever along with phlegm and throat congestion, it may indicate a more severe infection, such as a bacterial infection. A doctor can assess your condition and prescribe appropriate antibiotics if necessary.
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing: If you experience difficulty breathing or swallowing due to excessive phlegm or throat congestion, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. These symptoms could be indicative of a serious condition that requires prompt evaluation and treatment
  • Blood in phlegm: If you notice blood in your phlegm, it is important to consult a doctor. While it may be due to minor causes like irritation or dryness, it could also indicate a more serious underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Recurrent or chronic symptoms: If you frequently experience phlegm and throat congestion or if the symptoms persist for an extended period, it is advisable to see a doctor. Chronic or recurrent symptoms may be associated with allergies, sinusitis, or other underlying conditions that require medical management.

Remember, a healthcare professional is best suited to evaluate your symptoms, provide an accurate diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options based on your individual circumstances.


Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air Dr CEO & Co-Founder

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.