What can cause black spots in mucus

Sputum when coughing - what can be the cause?

Coughing with sputum is nothing unusual in itself at first. The mucous membranes of the airways permanently produce a film of mucus that protects the airways from drying out and encloses components that are to be removed from the airways. In healthy people, this secretion consists of water, proteins and dead cells.

Cough with sputum is called a productive cough.

With the help of cilia it is transported to the mouth like on a treadmill and spit out or swallowed from there. Coughing is a natural protective reflex that supports the evacuation of secretions. Once the secretion is coughed up, it is known as sputum or sputum.

Does the appearance of the sputum show what I have?

In the event of illness, the consistency, composition, color and amount of the secretion can change. Based on this, certain diseases can be suspected as the cause:

  • Clear / white: An acute respiratory infection from cold viruses is possible, which is the most common cause of coughing with sputum. If the sputum is also tough and chronic, this speaks for a chronic respiratory disease such as asthma or COPD.
  • White-gray, crumbly: Occurs in fungal diseases and tuberculosis.
  • Yellow: Yellow sputum when coughing can be a sign of pus formation in the bronchi due to a bacterial infection. But it can also occur with viral infections or asthma.
  • Green: Green sputum when coughing indicates a bacterial infection and is often associated with fever and rattling breath noises.
  • Bloody: Serious illnesses such as pneumonia, lung cancer, pulmonary embolism or foreign bodies in the airways trigger bloody sputum when coughing. But chronic bronchitis with a strong cough can also be the cause of such sputum.
  • Brown black: This is what is known as the smoker's cough. Especially if it occurs regularly and more often in the morning, this speaks for the typical diseases of chronic bronchitis or COPD.
  • Foamy: Possible evidence of pulmonary edema. Lung edema is called "water on the lungs". This often occurs in patients with a heart condition.

If you have a persistent cough for more than 3 weeks as well as bloody or purulent sputum, you should definitely consult a doctor!

If you are concerned that your cough with sputum is more likely, you should first see your doctor. He can assess whether you should go to a pulmonologist or an ear, nose and throat specialist for further treatment.

What does the doctor do if I go to him with a cough and sputum?

In order to be able to assess your health situation, the doctor will first ask you a few questions:

  • When did sputum first appear when coughing?
  • What is the amount, color and consistency of the sputum?
  • Do you have other symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose, headache or hoarseness?
  • Do you have any previous illnesses, allergies or intolerances?
  • Do you smoke?

He will then examine you by listening to your heart and lungs. Many respiratory diseases cause typical lung noises, such as: B. a rattle. The throat and pharynx are also examined for possible causes of the cough with sputum. If the sputum is bloody when coughing, it is determined whether the blood could come from the stomach. A blood sample is examined for inflammation levels and pathogens. Germs can also be detected in the sputum itself. In some cases, the chest is also x-rayed and a bronchoscopy is done.

What can you do about sputum when coughing?

Basically: drink a lot, because this makes the mucus more liquid and easier to cough up. In addition, inhalation with table salt helps to loosen the mucus and moisten the airways. Drug-dissolving, expectorant tablets, juices or inhalations can help. This includes B. ACC (acetylcysteine). If you have a lot of sputum, you should by no means use cough suppressants, as the secretion has to be coughed up. If the lining is inflamed, anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone can help. If the cause of the sputum when coughing is a bacterial infection, it may be necessary to take an antibiotic.

In addition to the medication, there are also breathing training devices that will help you cough up. They are particularly suitable for chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD. These breathing training devices are also known as PEP systems. They are handy and easy to use. When you exhale, they create a certain counter pressure, which causes the bronchi to widen. If you breathe into a PEP system several times, the bronchi are alternately wide and narrow. This loosens the mucus and helps move it upwards. In the case of chronic respiratory diseases, lung sports groups are also recommended.

No matter what the cause of sputum cough, smoking should be avoided for at least this time.

Tips on correct coughing up

  • Take a breath-relieving posture: e.g. while sitting, support your hands or forearms on your thighs and lean your upper body forward.
  • Cough against your closed lips or fist. This has a similar effect as the PEP systems and prevents the bronchi from cramping.
  • Use the brake lip between coughing attacks. To do this, breathe out as long and evenly as possible through the almost closed lips. At the end of the exhalation, force all the air out, this helps the secretion to be removed.

As you can see, sputum when coughing can vary widely and have different causes. Do not hesitate to be examined if the cough persists or if the sputum is purulent or bloody!

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