Respiratory system

Coughing up yellow mucus: 11 Causes and 8 Remedies     

Coughing up yellow mucus can be caused by minor ailments to serious disorders. So, it makes us worried. Let’s explore its causes and remedies.

Coughing is a common occurrence for everyone especially when having the flu. Therefore, coughing out mucus is something a majority of people do not consider it a medical concern. Mucus is also known as phlegm, which accumulates in the throat and requires coughing out. The appearance of mucus is similar to thick water.

It, however, does have a different color appearance since it takes on a different color depending on the causes of a disease and it requires coughing to expel it out the throat.

The term phlegm originates from a Greek word phlegm, which means inflammation. However, in medical terms, the word phlegm is commonly referred to as expectorated matter or sputum.

When mucus is present in the windpipe, it causes irritation and discomfort. Coughing up the mucus helps to offer a person relief from the discomfort and irritation it causes.

The color of mucus for healthy people is transparent, and its production is in small quantities. However, when a person has other medical issues or an infection in their throat, the color of the mucus changes.

The color changes from transparent/ colorless to pink, green, brown, grey, or some other color. However, we are going to focus on coughing up yellow mucus. It is essential to note that when the mucus is white, it is a sign of a simple viral infection. However, when the mucus turns yellow, then there may be a serious reason for the sudden change.

Coughing up yellow mucus is often a sign that your body is fighting an infection. On the other hand, there are other reasons why you may have a yellow mucus cough, and they include:

Causes of Coughing up Yellow Mucus:

coughing up yellow mucus
Coughing up yellow mucus
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Viral Infection:

A viral infection is often the major cause of coughing up yellow phlegm. It is an indication that the body is trying to fight against a viral infection. The viral infection makes the mucus thicken and in turn accumulate in the throat.

When the mucus accumulates, you end up coughing up yellow mucus. However, with a viral infection, there is a high possibility of inflammation of the throat. When the throat has an inflammation, a person often experiences a fever or a sore throat.

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Severe cases of tuberculosis have been known to cause the discharge of blood in some instances. Lack of energy, fever, and a feeling of restlessness are some of the symptoms of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis can also produce yellow mucus cough containing some traces of blood.

Unlike other respiratory diseases, tuberculosis requires serious observation and treatment throughout the patient’s lifetime to help prevent a recurring phase of tuberculosis.

Lung Cancer:

If the lung cancer is the cause of coughing up yellow phlegm, then the condition is serious. If you notice chest pains accompanied by coughing up thick yellow mucus for at least a week or more, then you should consider visiting a physician.

Another symptom of lung cancer is the presence of pink mucus or mucus with traces of blood.


When coughing up yellow mucus lasts for longer periods, it is often an indication that you may have asthma. Few of the most commonly seen symptoms of asthma include wheezing, tightness in the chest, and difficulties while breathing.

There is often a high likelihood of people who have asthma to develop a yellow mucus cough. Apart from coughing up yellow mucus, asthma also causes respiratory inflammation.

Chronic bronchitis:

Chronic bronchitis results from excessive smoking or a polluted environment. People who work in chemical factories and coal factories are often at a higher risk of suffering from chronic bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis makes it difficult for the oxygen to pass to the rest of the body from your lungs. The barring of oxygen in the lungs results in coughing up yellow mucus.


Pneumonia is both a viral and a bacterial condition that causes people to cough up a yellow mucus cough. The disease is a type of inflammation located in the lungs. The disease fills the lungs with pus or fluid making it possible for people to cough up thick yellow mucus.

Apart from coughing up yellow mucus, people suffering from pneumonia also experience chills, difficulty while breathing, and a fever.


Also known as influenza or cold is also a cause of people coughing up yellow mucus. A majority of times people with a cold often cough up clear mucus, however, in the rare case you can also produce a yellow mucus cough. Nevertheless, if you have no fever or any other symptoms then their no cause of alarm.

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One of the symptoms of bronchitis is coughing up yellow mucus. Bronchitis is a medical condition that results from a bacterial or a viral infection. Some other symptoms of bronchitis include a sore throat or fever.

Sinus Infection:

Sinuses normally filled with air but sometimes they can end up blocked due to either mucus or fluid. The blockage of the sinuses creates a friendly environment for the bacteria to grow. This results in a bacterial infection.

A bacterial infection will then lead to a yellow mucus cough. Some other symptoms of a sinus infection include a headache, persistent cough, facial pain, sore throat, and nasal congestion among other symptoms.


A majority of people are allergic to pollen or animals. Therefore, when they are exposed to anything that triggers their allergy, they begin to cough. The end up coughing up yellow mucus. Some other symptoms of an allergy include frequent sneezing, an itchy nose, eye, and throat.

It is essential to note that if coughing up yellow mucus is an allergy symptom then it may last for two weeks. However, the other symptoms disappear as soon as the allergen clears the air or leaves the room.


Apart from smoking being a cause for chronic bronchitis, it is also a cause for coughing up yellow mucus. Research has shown that smoking causes the production of excess mucus in the respiratory tract.

Remedies for Coughing Up Yellow Mucus:

Honey and lemon:

The honey and lemon mixture helps treat plenty of health conditions. The mixture also has plenty of health benefits that help the body recuperate from a disease. Lemon juice is acidic, and it helps break the mucus up; therefore, lemon will help soothe the inflammation in your throat and get rid of the yellow mucus cough.

Simply add the lemon juice to a cup of warm water. Adding the honey to the lemon tea helps reduce the sour taste of the lemon and include some therapeutic benefits of honey. Ensure you take this mixture in the morning and evening for quick results.


When coughing up yellow mucus, gargling salt water in your mouth helps reduce the amount of mucus, clear your throat, and soothe it in case of a sore throat. Simply mix a half a teaspoon of salt in warm water.

Take a sip of the salty water and gargle it for one minute or more spit it out and repeat the same procedure several times. Use this mixture several times in a day.

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Herbal tea:

Herbal tea is an effective remedy for people coughing up yellow mucus. Herbal tea helps relax the respiratory system and break down the mucus.

However, to get rid of the yellow mucus cough effectively, you can include items such as thyme, horehound tea among others. Incorporating fresh ginger in your herbal tea also helps reduce the mucus production.


If coughing up yellow mucus is the result of a sinus infection, then drinking plenty of water is a solution. Water helps flush out the irritants and mucus in the sinuses. Ensure you hydrate by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.


One of the symptoms of bronchitis is coughing up yellow mucus. To help solve this problem when the cause is bronchitis, inhaling warm air infused with eucalyptus oil drops will help get rid of the yellow mucus cough.


If you have a coughing up yellow mucus problem, then taking expectorants will help solve the issue. The wonderful thing about expectorants is that do not require a prescription, and you can find them at the nearest drug store. They help break up and flush out the mucus from the body.

Grapefruit Juice:

Grapefruit juice is an effective remedy that helps to reduce mucus in the body. For your body to get rid of the yellow mucus cough quickly, ensure you mix equal amounts of grapefruit juice with honey, and take the mixture twice in a day. Grapefruits contain a substance called Salicylic acid which has antiseptic properties and helps to control the infection. But, salicylic acid can interfere with some medications, so ensure you talk to your doctor about using this, before you start taking grapefruit juice.

Apple cider vinegar:

Apple cider vinegar is not only an excellent solution to help in the weight loss process, but it is also an effective cough remedy. Simply add some honey to it to help better its taste.

The above methods help to treat coughing up yellow mucus using natural methods. However, remember that yellow mucus cough is often a result of a serious condition like lung cancer. Therefore ensure that you visit a physician when coughing up yellow mucus persists.

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