Coughing up Clear Mucus – Is It a Sign of an Allergy?

Coughing up Clear Mucus

If you’re coughing up clear mucus, you may be wondering what the lack of color in the substance being coughed up means. Coughing up mucus in general means that the body is responding to some sort of foreign invader that it is trying to remove. It can also be attributed to the buildup of mucus in the throat, according to, which also explains that it’s this throat accumulation of phlegm that causes the cough by producing irritation in the throat.

Some people think that coughing up clear mucus is a direct result of problems within the throat, since this is where the discomfort originates from. However, while a throat infection can in some cases cause clear mucus, it’s normally a result of other issues, not necessarily a throat infection. For instance, GERD can lead to a sore throat that can mimic the symptoms of an infection in the throat. And, GERD can also create colorless mucus that is coughed up as well. Because of the phlegm present, it’s not uncommon for the gastrointestinal disorder to be miscategorized as an infection when none exists.

Such is that case therefore that not all throat mucus is caused by problems with the throat. Though bacterial and viral infections of the throat are not uncommon (many of them producing mucus) this simply doesn’t mean that the throat is the source of it. The throat merely serves as the means through which mucus in general is expelled via expectoration, which just means coughing.

Clear phlegm can be particularly confusing because there may not be any symptoms attached to it to indicate illness, and coughing up clear mucus may be the only present indication. For instance, clear phlegm can be a result of cigarette smoking. And, it can also be a symptom of chronic bronchitis. Many people think that because there is no visible mucus color that there cannot be any bacteria or virus present, because if there was, the mucus would be different hues and they would be coughing up green mucus or yellow mucus. This is simply not true. WebMD mentions that a person can have a very severe ear or sinus infection caused by a bacteria or virus and still only have clear phlegm.

But, one of the most common causes for coughing up clear mucus is allergies. Not everyone encounters allergies, and yet some people that do have allergies aren’t even aware of it due to a lack of symptoms. But, when triggers are present, colorless mucus alongside postnasal drip can certainly follow. In fact, using the color of mucus to help determine whether or not you have allergies or sinusitis can be a big help when symptoms are present, as the two conditions are markedly similar in terms of nasal pressure and congestion. In the case of an allergy, coughing up clear mucus or noticing that when you blow your nose the resulting tissue remnants are colorless can usually be a pretty good indicator that an allergy is present. Clear mucus from nose areas versus those that can be yellow tinged as is often present with sinusitis can help differentiate between the two.

There is simply no guarantee that coughing up clear mucus is a result of allergies. In fact, WebMD points out that clear mucus can accompany bacteria caused illness. However, when there are symptoms present that are associated commonly with allergies such as nasal discomfort and head congestion combined with colorless mucus, it’s quite possible that allergies are to blame.

There are also other conditions related to allergies that can behave similarly but be unrelated to either an infection or allergic response. Rhinitis or, irritation of the nose, can be caused by any number of things. Smoke, fumes from chemicals or cleaners, hormonal changes or even the anatomy of the nose itself can cause occasional irritation, according to And, when postnasal drip, a side effect of runny noses attributed to rhinitis builds up in the throat, the end result can be coughing up clear mucus.

Allergies are incredibly common, and many people encounter them seasonally from triggers such as pollen and ragweed. Allergies to pets are also very widespread. And, just as allergies themselves are common from time to time, so is clear mucus, and the body’s desire to remove it via coughing.