Phlegm after Eating

September 16, 2014 | 0

There are people who will feel like clearing their throat or coughing up phlegm after they have taken a meal. Phlegm, also known as sputum, is a thick, slippery, and sticky secretion that is produced by the throat and other respiratory passages in an effort to eliminate or clear the airway. Sputum contains mucus and other substances such as dead mucosal cells, pus, foreign bodies, and organisms such as bacteria. Its secretion is mainly increased in infectious conditions of the respiratory tract, in both upper and lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

Other health conditions that may lead to increased secretion include a hereditary condition called cystic fibrosis and asthma. Most of the time, phlegm is associated with serious health problems. When it recurs for protracted periods, it is advised that you see a doctor. However, it may occur due to irritation of the lining of your trachea, nose, bronchial tubes, and lungs by dust or other variables.

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Asthmatics develop a near death experience if the attack is more frequent and persistent due to the presence of phlegm in their windpipes blocking the flow of air to tissues. Diseases and conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract, or digestive system, such as excess acid secretion can also result in production of sputum after eating.

Cardiovascular system, which enables blood to flow all through your body, can also cause phlegm. These conditions include congestive cardiac failure in which the heart fails to pump blood and therefore a lot of fluid accumulates in your peripheral tissues.

Causes of phlegm after eating

People will tend to clear their throat after they have eaten because there is a postnasal drip occurring. The most common culprits implicated in the pathogenesis of phlegm are bacterial and viral agents. These can infect both the lower and upper respiratory tract. The normal lining of the respiratory tract is covered by thin film of mucus. When a foreign body or organism invades this barrier, the body protects itself by producing copious amounts of mucus so as to clear the invading agent.

Germs that are frequently isolated include streptococcus pneumonia and haemophilus influenza. Viruses include respiratory syncytial virus in children and influenza in adults. Other causes, which are also frequent, include dust particles that attach to your windpipe and allergens.

Allergens are particles that many people do not react to but in sensitive individuals, they cause a hypersensitive reaction that leads to production of a lot of mucus if the allergen affects the respiratory tract and other symptoms such as rash.


Most of the symptoms are due to the presence of inflammation in the mucosa lining the respiratory epithelium. Major symptoms include cough, which attempts to clear the mucus plugs, fever due to bacteremia or presence of bacteria in your blood, and running nose.

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Other symptoms include acute bronchitis, common cold, croup or inflammation of your voice box and windpipe, and epiglottitis, which may lead to hoarseness of voice. Influenza and laryngitis may also be experienced. Complications or manifestations that are more serious include pneumonia, sinusitis, tonsillitis, and tuberculosis infections.

Causes of phlegm after eating

Some food and medications can cause production of sputum due to the irritating sensation that they cause to the esophagus. The esophagus is the upper tube that enables food to pass from your mouth to the stomach for digestion and absorption. The high acidity of the stomach may affect the lining of the esophagus, which is very reactive to acid.

The major protective mechanism of the esophagus to such insults is production of copious amounts of sputum. If you produce a lot of mucus after taking a meal, you should probably change your diet. Fried foods tend to precipitate mucus production. This is because fats contain a lot acid in their digestion, which may translate to production of acid, which may irritate the esophagus leading to sputum production. You should also cut down your alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

In individuals suffering from a disease condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, constant irritation of the esophageal mucosa by acid, which is regurgitated from the stomach, leads to constant production of mucus. These symptoms are increased by intake of foods that have acid content or stimulate release of acid from the parietal cells of your stomach mucosa. These foods include fatty foods, caffeine-containing drinks, alcohol among many other agents.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the commonest cause of sputum production due to drug consumption. Aspirin causes ulceration of the lining of the stomach with high acid production. The acid may regurgitate to cause inflammation of the esophagus and mucus production.

 Treatment of phlegm that occurs after eating

Most of the time phlegm is caused by infections, both viral and bacterial. It is therefore advisable to visit a doctor when symptoms recur or persist. Antibiotics are used to eliminate bacterial infections from the mucosa they have colonized. For treatment of viral infections, your doctor will prescribe to you effective anti-viral agents according to the virus isolated.

When the symptoms are due to food or drug intake, withdrawal of the inducing agent is almost always enough to alleviate the symptoms. You should also stay well hydrated by taking a lot of water, which may neutralize the acid to avoid development of complications. Gargling may also be helpful, as it tends to loosen up the congealed mucus. Smoking cessation may also help if you are a smoker.

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