How to Clean Your Throat

Four Parts:Cleaning Your ThroatUsing Medication and Home RemediesEating and Drinking to Clean Your ThroatTaking Care of Your Throat

If your throat is clogged with mucus and phlegm, there are methods you can use to clear out your throat to make breathing, eating, and drinking easier. Medications, home remedies, and certain foods and drinks can help improve symptoms.

Part 1
Cleaning Your Throat

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    Use mouth rinses. Using a mouth rinse on a daily basis can help clean out the back of your throat and prevent bacteria that causes bad breath and a variety of mouth diseases.
    • Mouth rinses may contain antimicrobial agents to prevent disease, fluoride that reduces tooth decay, and odor neutralizers to combat bad breath.[1]
    • Some mouth rinses are merely cosmetic, meaning they seek to eliminate bad breath temporarily but do not have the bacteria fighting powers of stronger brands. Make sure you purchase a mouth rinse that is therapeutic and designed to clean your mouth and throat in addition to eliminating bad breath.[2]
    • Mouth rinses will come with instructions on how to use them. Most of them require you to swish or gargle the liquid for a number of seconds before spitting it into the sink and rinsing out your mouth with water.[3]
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    Take care of your tonsils. Tonsils are small collections of lymph tissue in the back of the throat that are often the cause of infections and bad breath. Some people have their tonsils removed via operation to keep these from occurring, but if you still have your tonsils they may require upkeep to prevent the buildup of bacteria. Sometimes, tonsil stones, which are concretions of food particles and mucus, build up in the folds of the tonsils and cause bad breath. They may also make you feel like you're gagging, or like you need to clear your throat constantly.
    • If you're having trouble with tonsil stones, you may need to regularly irrigate your tonsils, using an irrigation system you can purchase at a drug store. Tonsil irrigation systems work somewhat like nasal or ear irrigation systems do, in that a rubber syringe is used to spray water and some kind of medication in the back of the throat to remove unwanted debris. Make sure you don't use too much pressure or force, or you could irritate your tonsils or cause bleeding.[4]
    • You can also buy tonsil sprays at most drug stores. These are medicated sprays you use on the back of your throat to clean out your tonsils and prevent decay.[5]
    • If your tonsils are growing uncomfortably large, taking oral probiotics might hinder their growth. Talk to your doctor before trying any new medication, however.[6]
    • If you aren't able to remove tonsil stones on your own, or they pose a serious problem for you, see your doctor.
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    Brush your tongue. When brushing your teeth each day, make sure you take a few minutes to brush the back of your tongue with your toothbrush. This helps clean your throat and mouth in addition to your teeth, and prevents the build up of disease and bad breath causing bacteria.

Part 2
Using Medication and Home Remedies

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    Try over the counter medications. The quickest way to remove phlegm and other unwanted substances from the throat is simple over-the-counter medication that can be purchased at most drug stores and supermarkets.
    • OTC medications labeled as "expectorants" are designed to clear mucus and phlegm from the throat and chest. These include brand names like Mucinex or generic medications like guaifenesin.[7]
    • Always check the side effects of any new medications you're taking. Many expectorants cause drowsiness and sometimes medication labels might even advise you not operate a motor vehicle while taking the medication.[8]
    • You should always consult your physician when taking any new medications, even over the counter meds, to make sure they're safe for you given your medical history and any current medication you're taking.[9]
    • If over the counter medications do not help, see your physician. If she thinks it's necessary, she may refer you to an Ears, Nose, and Throat Specialist to help find you a prescription medication to clear out your throat.
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    Use a saline solution to clear your nasal passages. Salt water, or saline solution, can effectively clean out the throat for a short period of time by preventing nasal drip, reducing stuffiness, and removing mucus from the nose.[10] You can buy sterile saline solution from the drug store or make your own at home.
    • Mix half a teaspoon of baking soda and half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of distilled water at room temperature. If you have to use tap water, boil it first to sterilize it and then let it cool down.[11]
    • Dissolve the baking soda and salt into the water.[12]
    • You will need some kind of rubber syringe. You can use an ear syringe or a medical syringe with no needle. Squirt the solution into your nose and let it run into the back of your throat. Spit it out into the sink.[13]
    • Do not be concerned if you accidentally swallow some of the solution. It will not hurt you.[14]
    • This should help clear your nasal pathways, which will reduce the buildup of phlegm in your throat. Repeat as symptoms persist.[15]
    • Make sure to keep the syringe sterile by washing it with soap and water after using it. Replace your saline solution every few days.
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    Try a honey and lemon mixture. Honey and lemon both have antibacterial properties that can help soothe the throat and remove phlegm, mucus, and other bacteria.
    • Combine honey and lemon juice in equal properties and mix thoroughly.[16]
    • You can take a spoonful of the mixture pure, but many people find the taste too sweet. If that's the case, adding it to your tea, coffee, or even just to a cup of hot water can help it go down easier.[17]
    • Don't give honey to children under 1 year old. It can contain botulism spores that can cause a serious infection in infants.[18]
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    Use eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil can be applied externally to relieve congestion, which may help clear up the throat.
    • You can buy eucalyptus oil from most drug stores, supermarkets, and health food shops. Remember, it's only for applying to the skin and should never be taken orally. Always dilute eucalyptus oil in a carrier oil first, such as coconut oil, olive oil, or canola oil.[19]
    • You can gently massage eucalyptus oil into your chest to and neck and leave on for a few hours to relieve congestion. This may result in your throat clearing up.[20]

Part 3
Eating and Drinking to Clean Your Throat

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    Try ginger and garlic. Raw ginger and garlic can be extremely helping in clearing up congestion and cleaning out the throat.
    • Ginger and garlic both have antibacterial properties that can help clear out infections that lead the phlegm and mucus in the throat. Phlegm itself contains a variety of bacteria that garlic can destroy.[21]
    • You should consume ginger and garlic uncooked for the best results. If the idea of chewing whole bits of garlic or ginger puts you off, you can always mince both and take with water like a pill.
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    Drink herbal teas. Herbal teas have been known to eliminate irritation in the throat caused by phlegm-causing infections. Green tea, ginger tea, chamomile, or lemon tea are good choices. Try a non-caffeinated variety for best results.[22]
    • Herbal tea can melt away mucus in the throat, decongesting you and cleaning out your throat.[23]
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    Eat spicy foods. Spicy foods could potentially irritate an already sore throat, so use this method with caution. The idea is that spicy foods loosen phlegm and make it runnier, easier to remove via coughing and blowing your nose. Chili, peppers, wasabi, and horseradish are all good choices. However, if you've had issues such as acid reflux in response to spicy foods in the past, it might be best to try a different method.[24]
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    Avoid certain foods. If your throat is clogged or congested, there are certain foods you should avoid as they can make the problem worse.
    • Dairy products, like cheese, yogurt, and milk, can increase mucus production in the body. Meals rich in salt and oil should also be avoided.[25]
    • Refined sugars and other artificial sweeteners can irritate the throat and make problems worse. They should be avoided while you're trying to clean your throat.[26]
    • Soy products, like tofu and soy milk, can also increase the production of phlegm. Therefore, you should not substitute milk and cheese with soy alternatives while trying to clean out your throat.[27]

Part 4
Taking Care of Your Throat

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    Drink plenty of water. Proper hydration can help mucus stay loose and not get caught in your throat as easily.
    • Aim for about 8 glasses of water a day, although if you're sick with a cold you may need to drink slightly more than this as you'll be producing more mucus.[28]
    • Water keeps your throat lubricated, which reduces phlegm production. Drink water with meals instead of other beverages and have a bottle of water nearby while you're at work or relaxing at home and sip on it periodically.[29]
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    Do not smoke. Smoking not only results in a litany of other health problems, it's very bad for your throat. Not only does smoke irritate the vocal folds, tobacco use makes you more susceptible to infections resulting in more colds and flus and therefore more mucus. Ditch the cigarettes while trying to clear out your throat and look into plans for quitting longterm.[30]
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    Drink alcohol and soft drinks in moderation. If you have phlegm stuck in your throat, alcohol and carbonation should be avoided.
    • Carbonated beverages, even carbonated waters, can irritate the throat and create unnecessary phlegm.[31]
    • Alcohol not only irritates existing phlegm, it lowers the immune system which can prolong your cold or flu, meaning your throat will take longer to clear out.[32]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Teeth and Mouth