Coughing up Black Mucus Reasons in Smokers and Non Smokers

Coughing up Black Mucus

Throat mucus is normally a very good thing. It keeps the area moist and supple and prevents dryness, irritation and inflammation. It can serve as a means to carry along with it irritants and germs. It’s produced various membranes and Wikipedia notes that its antiseptic enzymes can also help to protect against illnesses. But, sometimes throat mucus can be a nuisance when it comes in great abundance such as when sickness is present. And, it can also be alarming when it changes in color or consistency. Coughing up black mucus for instance, can be one of the scariest instances.

Coughing up mucus occurs when irritation and inflammation in the throat creates aggravation that leads to coughing. In many cases, this is a result of a respiratory illness such as a cold or from allergies. It’s also not uncommon for coughing up mucus to occur when environmental sources cause aggravation, such as excessive dust and dirt. But, while coughing up mucus is relatively common, coughing up black mucus most certainly isn’t.

Smoking is one of the most frequent reasons for black mucus to be encountered. Interestingly enough, this is often blamed on the tar in cigarettes. However, Wikipedia explains that while the word “tar” is most often associated with the stuff used in road paving, its use in tobacco products is actually an acronym for ‘total aerosol residue’. And, while it might contribute to coughing up black mucus, its association with paved roadways is not precisely the cause. Marijuana smokers are just as susceptible to bouts of black mucus in nose areas as well as coughing it up, as the mechanism of actions for both substances is quite similar.

Non smokers are not wholly immune to coughing up black mucus unfortunately. For instance, those who do or have previously worked in the coal industry are potentially vulnerable to occurrences of black phlegm. And, blood can be another common cause. While sometimes, blood that is present in mucus matter will retain its red color (which can provide an instant idea of what is causing the change in mucus color) there are times that it can be less obvious. For instance, coughing up brown mucus can actually be caused by old blood or dried blood, which can change in color due to a hemoglobin loss. The brown phlegm takes on this characteristic color due to these changes in hue once blood has dried out or gotten old. Most of the time, when blood is present in the mucus, it will present itself as such or as brown phlegm. However sometimes, the presence of blood in mucus can result in a black appearance as well.

One very serious cause of this can be lung cancer. Coughing up black mucus is unfortunately a sign of this very serious condition. Lung cancer is predominantly a smoker’s disease; however it does occur in non smokers as well. Other symptoms of lung cancer include a cough that persists and chest pain that can be severe, among others. Another serious cause of coughing up black mucus is tuberculosis, which Medicalopedia.com points out can result in mucus that is red, brown or black. Tuberculosis affects everyone, smokers and non smokers. It’s an infection that is caused by bacteria and it’s a contagious, airborne condition, according to Wikipedia. Aside from alarmingly hued sputum, tuberculosis symptoms include fever, weight loss and a chronic cough.

Both smokers and non smokers are susceptible to coughing up black mucus. However, the occurrence is much higher in smokers whose lungs are constantly under attack from the consistent onslaught of toxins and pollutants that come from inhaling smoke regularly. Unfortunately in some smokers, black phlegm is a common occurrence and may not necessarily be a sign of an underlying problem (although, it can certainly progress to one). Conversely, there are far few causes of coughing up black mucus in non smokers, as they don’t have the lifestyle factors contributing to causes. But, for both smokers and non smokers, black mucus should be a fast indicator that a consultation with a health care provider is urgently needed. Even if the cause is not sinister in nature, the symptom in itself can signal very serious health maladies that can be life threatening if left untreated. As such, a prompt visit to a doctor’s office is essential when black phlegm presents.

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