Coughing up White Mucus For Weeks – What Could Be a Reason?
Coughing up white mucus can be alarming, but when it’s chronic and lasts for more than a few days, it can be even more unnerving. In most cases, mucus is a necessary and healthy part of biological makeup. It serves as a natural lubricant for all sorts of body processes, including those in the respiratory system, sinuses and digestive tract. But, it can also be a sign of illness and conditions like strep throat and allergies. In most cases, mucus that is related to illness comes as goes as the sickness runs its course. But, sometimes it can be persistent, lasting up to weeks at a time. It’s easy to speculate what can be the underlying cause of week after week of coughing up white mucus, but with some of the reasons being markedly apparent, while others being less obvious, it may not always be easy to tell what is causing the white mucus laden cough.
The Cedars-Sinai Medical Group explains that bronchitis can be one very common cause of coughing up mucus that is white for longer than normal periods. The cough associated with the condition in many cases will start out dry before the cough begins to produce phlegm. Once this happens, it’s not uncommon for bronchitis to produce white mucus, often in small amounts, although it is persistent in nature. Coughing up mucus associated with bronchitis can last for weeks at a time, as even acute forms of the condition can last for up to three months. Chronic cases can last even longer. In some cases, chronic bronchitis can last for years.
Persistent white phlegm can also be a side effect of smoking. When smoke is inhaled, it carries along with it irritants and toxins that can dehydrate the vocal cords, according to Wikipedia. Inflammation can result and often does, and this swelling and dryness can cause the production of white phlegm. This is in response to the dryness caused by the smoke and its carried pollutants, and is an attempt to rehydrate the parched larynx. It’s not uncommon for smokers to be faced with coughing up white mucus for weeks at a time, particularly if there are other factors that are causing dryness in the throat.
Interestingly enough, tonsil stones can create a wide variety of symptoms including coughing up white mucus. While not well known, they are actually quite common. The tonsils are very susceptible to the buildup of food, bacteria and other debris, all neatly held together by mucus, packed into the tiny ditches and indents of the tonsils. When all of these items come together and compact, a tonsil stone can result. Some people get them chronically, while others only get them from time to time. Most people have few if any symptoms of tonsil stones, but some people are stuck with painful ears, sore throats and coughing up white chunks, as the stones are dislodge and expelled. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis and improper treatment with antibiotics can result in dry throat and mouth symptoms, which can ultimately lead to coughing up white mucus as a result as the body attempts to self lubricate.
Another interesting and less thought about cause of throat mucus is frequent overuse. A cheerleader for instance, who spends night after night cheering and screaming for hours on end in front of football fans may find that a game after party is all but ruined by a night spent coughing up white mucus. Wikipedia points out that vocal abuse of various sorts can contribute to excess throat mucus, again a lubrication attempt, and this can lead to persistent coughing as the phlegm irritates the throat.
It’s very difficult to identify the cause of coughing up phlegm. And, while mucus color can be very telling, it’s not normally enough to identify what the body is responding to without other symptoms to accompany it. White mucus in nose areas could be a result of an allergy or a common cold, and coughing up white mucus can be caused from any number of things from environmental and lifestyle factors to underlying health conditions. The most important thing is to understand that a little bit of mucus is normal and healthy, but persistent mucus that is accompanied by other symptoms should be evaluated by a health care provider to rule out more ominous causes like bronchitis or tonsil stones.