Coughing up Yellow Mucus – When To Worry and When Not?

Coughing up Yellow Mucus

Coughing up yellow mucus can instantly put most people on edge and instantly lead them to believe that an infection caused from viruses or bacteria is to blame. While it’s true that often times, varying shades of throat mucus can certainly be caused by germy sources, it’s just not always the case. Throat mucus in general is actually something that the body uses to stay healthy and lubricated. For instance, excessive screaming or yelling can contribute to the formation of extra mucus that can build up in the throat. And smoking, which can also create extremely dry conditions in the larynx, can also lead to excess mucus production.

Yellow phlegm in particular can scream infection. But, interestingly enough, the color does not come from infection. A yellow hue to the mucus is caused from white blood cells, according to So, yellow mucus therefore isn’t a result of an infection, but a result of the body fighting an infection. Coughing up yellow mucus therefore can be associated with battling the illness as opposed to being a symptom. Sometimes, yellow phlegm can still hang around after the illness or infection has subsided, due to the fact that draining is still occurring in immune cells.

Most of the causes of persistent thick yellow mucus creating coughing symptoms are relatively mild and very common. For instance, notes that thick yellow mucus can be associated with many things that cause inflammation in the respiratory tract. When this happens, it’s because of things in the mucus, not the substance itself, is contributing to the hue. In the case of yellow, build ups of leukocytes or inflammatory cells are actually what’s responsible for the color change. Common conditions that can result in coughing up yellow mucus include infections and asthma; but, allergies can also do so as well. Thick yellow mucus can be more apparent in similar conditions that are considered slightly more serious. Pneumonia and bronchitis (both acute and chronic) can cause persistent bouts of coughing up yellow mucus that this thick and gooey.

Most commonly, everyday respiratory assailants are responsible for yellow colored mucus. Sinus infections are incredibly common causes. Bronchitis and chest colds also can produce the symptom. And, there is little to fear from these very common health conditions. However, as WebMD points out, there are some symptoms that should be considered problematic when paired alongside coughing up yellow mucus, such as a fever above 101 degrees, wheezing, night sweats and coughing up green mucus or blood. When combined with these other symptoms, coughing up yellow mucus can be a sign of pneumonia, which can be very serious. points out that there can be multiple non-bacterial and non-viral sources of coughing up mucus that should not cause worry. Allergies are one cause. Most people with allergies are either affected by the skin dander of animals or seasonal pollen and plant produced reactions (of course, there are those unfortunate enough to deal with both). These common allergies can cause coughing up mucus, especially following throat irritation. And, sometimes this mucus is yellow. However, a lack of other present symptoms should be enough to indicate that this isn’t a serious problem and shouldn’t be grounds for worrying. Asthma, which is directly related to respiratory inflammation, can create excess mucus and of course, an abundance of inflammatory cells which can change mucus color to yellow in response. Asthma may cause prolonged periods of coughing that are sometimes accompanied by phlegm filled coughs.

For some people, coughing up yellow mucus means an immediate trip to the doctor’s office for a course of antibiotics to fight off what is sure to be a terrible infection. However, this is simply not true. While there are certainly some very potent and hazardous illnesses like pneumonia that can cause yellow mucus, that doesn’t mean that they’re the underlying cause in every case. Non germ caused allergies and asthma can also contribute to mucus formation and running yellow mucus from nose areas, and when not accompanied with other symptoms, no antibiotics are needed – because there is simply no bacteria to kill. Perhaps an allergy to a neighbor’s dog or a nasal disdain for pollinating plant life is to blame.