Mucus is normal and serves many purposes in our organism, even when we're healthy. An increase in mucus production, as well as a change in mucus color and consistency - as the discussion starter described - may suggest an underlying cause.
Many joined the discussion claiming they have exactly the same thing. Some also provided a condition they have been diagnosed with, such as sinusitis or tonsil stones, while the others made only unverified claims.
I think that it may be food related.
The member who claimed this said that he/she felt it the most after eating a liver. Another member who said to have the same thing, also reckoned the problem was food related, naming, wheat or milk as possible culprits. One participant suggested eliminating dairy and sugars as they are mucus producers. Another told that from his/her experience, the hydration, as well as the elimination of mucus forming foods like dairy, completely eliminated the issue. These statements are, however, dubious, because one clinical study found no association between milk and dairy product intake and symptoms of mucus production in healthy adults, either asymptomatic or symptomatic, with rhinovirus infection.
If the hard substance is a chalky yellow and can be broken up (like feta cheese) these are called tonsil stones.
Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are named as the most likely culprit for dark, chunky mucus. They are a result of bacteria, food particles or trapped mucus in your tonsils. According to one participant, tonsil stones can be worsened by sinus drainage.
However, many participants in the discussion who had their tonsils removed also reported the problem with dark and chunky mucus in their throat, so tonsil stones might not be the only cause.
Several members told that they have had this problem due to sinus or teeth problems. One of them confirmed that the green/brown/tan hard chunks coughed up in the morning could be from an infection in sinuses, lungs or rarely the throat.
Brown mucus can be caused by dryness or blood, as one participant mentioned, and it can be caused by GERD, stomach acid washing up the esophagus as you sleep. For many, smoking cigarettes was a true cause for hardened, chunk-like sputum.
One participant claimed that extra-thick, sticky or solid mucus and/or sputum, which sometimes may be brown-colored is a textbook symptom of dehydration, both environmental resulting from extended exposure to dry climate conditions, and internal resulting from not drinking enough water.
I get a burning sensation high up in the back of my throat, then I feel like there is something caught back there.
For many, this problem started as a feeling of having a sore throat that moved to the sinus area producing a gag reflex and often a choking sensation. The hard, yellow-brown throat chunks were usually reported in the morning, although many participants coughed up phlegm several times a day. Many said that their throat mucus had a terrible odor.
It's a flat, semi-hard, but sticky, greenish brown thing about the size of a dime.
The "plugs" that have been coughed up were dimple shaped, usually having a thicker greenish-brown rim, with the dimpled center that was translucent and clearer and thinner.
For temporary relief, several members suggested trying a neti pot, although it takes a lot of getting used to. Also, some participants reported their symptoms worsened after using it. Mucinex was reported to have helped soften the mucus up so that it comes out easier. Sinus meds and non-steroid nasal sprays have been also recommended. Some home remedies have been suggested as well, such as gargling with warm salt water or nasal irrigation. The best advice was, of course, seeing a doctor to get a proper diagnosis, and quit smoking if you're a smoker.
What do experts say?
Mucus - also known as sputum - is a thick, wet and sticky substance produced by mucous membranes in the nose and sinuses that moistens your lungs, throat, mouth, nose, and sinuses, and helps trap allergens (such as dust or pollen), bacteria and viruses and destroy them with antibodies or enzymes before they cause an infection or allergy reaction.
Mucus is often confused with the term "phlegm." although they're often used interchangeably, the phlegm is a different type of mucus, produced exclusively by your lungs and respiratory system.
Mucus is normal. Our bodies produce 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus per day when we're healthy. Normally, we don't notice the mucus because it mixes with saliva and we swallow it on a daily basis. However, sometimes our bodies produce more mucus than usual, and then, it becomes more noticeable.
Increased or excessive mucus production may be triggered by many possible causes, including::
- bacterial or viral infections, such as the common cold or flu
- sinus infection or sinusitis
- irritation of the nose, throat, or lungs
- air pollution
- cold or dry weather
- digestive conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- smoking tobacco
- certain medications (birth control and blood pressure medications)
- certain foods
- lung diseases, such as pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or lung cancer
Mucus may also change its color and consistency. It may become darker, such s yellow, green, or brown (rusty), it may have blood in it, become thicker or even chunky. These changes depend on what causes them.
A thick and dark yellow or green mucus or phlegm is usually a sign of a viral or bacterial infection (such as bronchitis), sinus infection, or lower respiratory tract infection. As bronchitis progresses, the sputum may become brown (rusty) from the old blood in it. People who smoke tend to produce more brown phlegm, because of all the resin and tar in cigarettes.
When the mucus is thicker, almost chunky, it is possible that you may have tonsilloliths, or tonsil stones, which form when debris, such as food or mucus trapped in the tonsils hardens. Dark and think mucus from tonsil stones is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- bad breath
- ear pain
- tonsil swelling
- sore throat
To get rid of the tonsil stones try gargling with warm salt water or gently removing the stone with a cotton swab. Your health care provider might prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection, or suggest the surgery if tonsil stones keep coming back.
To thin mucus secretions, you should drink lots of water. You can also try some over-the-counter mucus-thinning medications called expectorants, such as Guaifenesin.
If the mucus is a result of a seasonal allergy you can try antihistamines, designed to block or limit the activity of histamine, a substance your body produces during an allergic reaction.
One of the most popular home remedies for getting rid of excessive mucus is nasal irrigation, which can be done by using neti pot or a squeeze bottle containing salt water.
The best advice, however, is to visit your doctor to get the right diagnosis and treatment suggestion.
How the participants described the mucus?
- I wake up every morning and cough up dark, chunky, hard mucus.
- it's not black, but i would call it brownish green.
- i get it from my throat and it feels like it moves to my sinus area and then i start to gag and feels like choke and finally spit it out.
- disgustinly, it hard chunky brown mucus.
- has a terrible odor.
What remedies have been suggested?
- REMEDIES gargle salt water Ibuprofen works wonders on any swelling or pain your throat may have.
- Sinus meds help.
- Mucinex may help soften it up so that it comes out easier.
- I have been taking prilosec otc which helps my heart burn but still spit up the brown stuff.
- As far both problems go, I would look into using a mouth wash, and maybe gargling salt water.
Verification Claims & Medical Studies
Eliminate dairy and sugars as they are mucus producers.