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Various Phlegm Colors, Recognize Meanings Here

Phlegm is mucus that usually appears when you are coughing. If you notice, the color of phlegm is not always the same. Do not underestimate the change in color of phlegm, because the color of sputum can indicate certain diseases.

Besides being clear, the color of phlegm can change to white, green, yellow, red, pink, and even black. Try to look at the color of phlegm that comes out when you cough. In addition to being a sign to estimate the underlying cause of complaints, phlegm discoloration can also be an indicator of the degree of disease course. For clarity, consider the phlegm color changes and possible causes below.

Clear phlegm

The phlegm produced by the body contains dissolved proteins, water, antibodies, and salts. This phlegm acts to moisturize the respiratory system in the body. Cough with clear phlegm is often caused by a viral infection or an allergic reaction to the respiratory system.

White phlegm

White phlegm usually indicates several diseases such as:




  • Viral bronchitis

Bronchitis caused by a viral infection generally causes coughing with white phlegm.

  • COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disorder of the lungs that runs for a long time and causes narrowing of the respiratory tract, can be accompanied by coughing with white phlegm.

  • Gastric Acid Disease

Gastric acid disease (GERD) generally causes complaints on the stomach and heartburn. However, this disease can also sometimes cause phlegm to become thicker and white.

  • Congestive heart failure

Heart failure is a condition when the heart is unable to pump blood effectively throughout the body. This condition can be accompanied by a buildup of body fluids, including the lungs, thereby increasing white phlegm production. People with heart failure also often feel shortness of breath. Heart failure is an emergency condition and requires immediate medical treatment.

Green or Yellow Phlegm

This green or yellow color comes from white blood cells that are fighting the cause of infection. At the beginning of its appearance, phlegm is generally yellow, then can turn green over time. Green or yellow phlegm can indicate you are suffering from an infectious disease, for example:

  • Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung tissue that often accompanies other respiratory disorders. If you experience pneumonia, besides coughing up phlegm green or yellow, you will also feel some other symptoms, such as fever, shortness of breath, or shortness of breath. In certain conditions, sputum can be mixed with blood.

  • Bronchitis

Bronchitis is generally preceded by a dry cough which then becomes phlegm cough, then over time, it causes green or yellow phlegm. This discoloration can be a sign of a viral infection which is then followed by a bacterial infection.

  • Sinusitis

Green or yellow phlegm can also be caused by infections that cause inflammation of the sinuses or sinusitis. Besides, you may also experience many other symptoms, such as pressure on the sinus cavity that often causes pain in the surrounding area, and nasal congestion.

  • Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic genetic lung disease, and causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, thus interfering with the respiratory process. This condition is generally experienced at a young age. Sputum color that comes out varies, ranging from yellow, green, to brown.

Brown phlegm

The brown color that appears on phlegm can indicate bleeding that has long. This condition can be preceded by a cough with phlegm red or pink. Brown phlegm can be caused by cystic fibrosis, bacterial pneumonia, bacterial bronchitis, and several other conditions such as:

  • Pneumoconiosis

This is a lung disorder that is difficult to cure. This condition can occur if you inhale a lot of industrial dust, such as asbestos dust which causes asbestosis, or silica dust that causes silicosis.

  • Lung abscess

Lung abscess occurs when there is an infection that causes the lung tissue to become inflamed and filled with pus. In addition to causing coughing with brown or phlegm containing blood, it can also be accompanied by an unpleasant breath odor.

Red or Pink Phlegm

The red color comes from the blood found in phlegm. This blood can be caused by injury or inflammation in the respiratory tract, for example, diseases such as:

  • Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that can be contagious. This condition is characterized by a long cough (more than 2 weeks), and the cough that occurs can produce reddish phlegm. This complaint is often known as coughing up blood. Other symptoms of tuberculosis are fever and night sweats.

  • Lung cancer

Red phlegm is one of the symptoms of lung cancer. This disease causes a variety of respiratory disorders, also often accompanied by other symptoms such as drastic weight loss.

  • Pulmonary embolism

Pulmonary embolism is caused by a blockage of blood in the pulmonary arteries. This blood clot is generally the result of a blood clot flowing from other parts of the body. In pulmonary embolism can occur complaints of cough with red phlegm.

Black phlegm

Black phlegm or also called melanoptysis can be influenced by several things such as pneumoconiosis, heavy smokers, or fungal infections of Exophiala dermatitidis. Black phlegm is more common in people with cystic fibrosis.

If your phlegm is clear, yellow or green, without any other dangerous symptoms, you don't need to worry too much. You can overcome it with simple ways like gargling with salt water or taking expectorant cough medicine. But if the sputum changes color to red, brown, or black, immediately see a doctor get the right treatment.





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