If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you have a cold or another ailment of the phlegm-producing kind. While there are plenty of ways to get better faster and more efficiently, dealing with the post-cough discomforts is just part of life. One such discomfort is the gooey mucus that comes up when you try to clear your throat. And that brings us to the question: Should you swallow phlegm or spit it out? Let’s take a look at how each option affects your body and why one might be more helpful than the other.
Should You Swallow Phlegm or Spit It Out?
It is bad for health to swallow or spit phlegm. Phlegm is the collection of mucus and cellular secretions that are found in your throat and respiratory tract. If you have phlegm in your throat or nose, you may want to get rid of it as soon as possible. However, there’s no benefit to swallowing phlegm. Swallowing phlegm actually increases its concentration in your body and may cause more problems. It can lead to the development of a cough, which can lead to an infection
Why you might want to swallow phlegm?
1. It May Help With Immune Function
One of the most popular reasons why some people swallow their phlegm is because they believe it can increase their immune function. This makes sense because you are basically ingesting your own protective mucus which is designed to protect your body from the inside. Some people who swallow their phlegm believe that it can even prevent diseases like the flu or pneumonia. Of course, this hasn’t been proven by any scientific studies, so it is important not to think that you can ingest phlegm in order to prevent or treat any disease. That being said, there is some evidence that swallowing your phlegm can increase your white blood cells which are responsible for fighting off infections, so there does seem to be some truth to this.
2. It May Help With Breathing
Swallowing your phlegm can also be good for your breathing. This is because phlegm actually helps to loosen and unclog your airways. Once you have swallowed your phlegm, it will travel down to your stomach where it will be broken down by digestive enzymes and acids. From there, it will be broken down even further and eliminated as waste. While in your stomach, the phlegm will produce gases that will help to ease and unclog your breathing. This is because the phlegm in your stomach will press against your stomach walls which will, in turn, press against your diaphragm. This will help to expand your diaphragm which will, in turn, expand your lungs which will help to ease your breathing.
3. It May Help With Digestion
Aside from the airway benefits of swallowing phlegm, many people also report that it also helps ease their digestion. This is because your stomach naturally produces digestive enzymes that break down your food. However, phlegm is also believed to contain a small number of digestive enzymes. So, when you swallow your phlegm, it can help to ease your digestion by providing your digestive system with extra enzymes that can break down your food more effectively.
Why you might want to spit phlegm?
You’ll breathe easier.
When you’re sick, your body is constantly trying to fight off whatever invaded your body. This often includes your lungs – so your body will send white blood cells to battle the germs in your lungs as well. When your lungs are inflamed, they can’t do their job as well. This is why it’s harder to breathe when you have a cold or flu – you just can’t breathe as deeply or as easily. The phlegm from your spit can actually make breathing even harder because it builds up in your lungs. Spitting can help your lungs get back to normal. It helps by draining the phlegm from your lungs, which will make it easier for you to breathe and get rid of that terrible feeling that you can’t breathe properly.
The phlegm will help you know what you’re dealing with.
When someone is sick, the phlegm in their spit changes colour and texture as the illness progresses. This is good to know because it can help you understand what type of bacteria you’re dealing with and what you can do to get better. For example, if you have greenish phlegm, it is likely a sign of bronchitis. When red, it’s a sign of strep throat. And if you have thick yellow phlegm, it could be a sign of a bacterial infection in your lungs.
You won’t be helping the bad stuff grow and develop.
Bad bacteria feed on mucus (and so does other bad stuff like viruses). This means that if you keep the phlegm in your mouth, it will feed the bacterial growth in your mouth. This can make your illness worse because the bacteria in your mouth will be able to grow and spread. On top of that, the dangerous bacteria in your mouth can make you sicker by making their way into your bloodstream.
How Spitting Out Phlegm Can Help?
1. You can identify the root cause of your illness.
If you are suffering from a prolonged illness and are not able to identify the root cause of your illness, you should think about spitting out phlegm. If you have been diagnosed with respiratory disease and have been on medication, it is normal to feel a lump in your throat that needs to be expelled. When you feel the urge to spit out phlegm, try and identify the colour, texture and smell of it. If the phlegm is thick and sticky with a different colour and smell from your normal sputum, it could be an indication of a serious underlying problem. If you are able to identify the cause of the excess phlegm, you can seek immediate treatment and avoid complications.
2. It can relieve congestion and pressure in your head.
When we have a cold or flu and our body is fighting the infection, one of the common symptoms is a stuffy nose. The mucus in your nose clogs up your nostrils, making it difficult to breathe. When you feel the urge to expel phlegm, try to remove it as much as possible. This will help you breathe easier and reduce the pressure in your head.
3. You will have fewer coughing fits.
Expelling phlegm on a regular basis keeps your airways free of excess mucus and bacteria that could trigger an infection. When your airways are clear, you will have fewer coughing fits. Coughing up phlegm could be an indication that there is an infection in your respiratory tract. However, if you expel the phlegm, it will help you avoid a coughing fit.
4. It’s a sign that you should see a doctor immediately.
If the sputum you are coughing out is accompanied by a lot of blood, or if it has a different colour and smell, you should visit a doctor immediately. If you have been diagnosed with an infection, you must follow your doctor’s instructions and take the prescribed medication. However, if you are not diagnosed with any infection, you should increase the frequency of coughing out phlegm. If you feel the urge to cough, try and expel as much phlegm as possible to avoid complications.
The bottom line
If you’re sick, there are plenty of ways to get better faster, and dealing with the post-cough discomforts is just part of life. One such discomfort is the gooey mucus that comes up when you try to clear your throat. And that brings us to the question: Should you swallow phlegm or spit it out? Swallowing phlegm when you’re sick can help your body get rid of it faster, and it might even speed up the recovery process.