What is sputum?

In the airway of a healthy person (in the nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, lungs), a secret is constantly produced, which more than 90% consists of water, and the rest - mineral salts. This secret is most often involuntarily swallowed. Sputum is always a symptom of an illness. Only by the nature of the sputum can we assume what the person is sick. When viewed with the naked eye, sputum is divided into watery, mucous and with an admixture of blood, often it has an unpleasant sweetish smell. When studying with a microscope, bacteria, fungi, parasites and tumor cells can be detected. By being in sputum white blood cells (white blood cells) you can judge the presence of allergies, inflammation and the state of immunity.

Types of sputum and the causes of its appearance

  • When asthma is between two attacks of cough, the cough phlegm is viscous.
  • With pulmonary edema, sputum is frothy and bloody.
  • Transparent sputum with blood fibers may be a symptom of an early stage of bronchogenic lung cancer.
  • Mucous, watery sputum may indicate lung adenomatosis - a very rare type of cancer.
  • With a pulmonary infarction, sputum is bright red (scarlet).
  • With pneumonia in the cough of saffron cough, pus appears.
  • With pulmonary abscess due to hemoglobin impurities, sputum is yellow-brown.
  • With croupous inflammation of the lungs due to the admixture of blood, the phlegm purulent becomes rusty.
  • Bloody sputum is caused by anthrax (anthrax causes inflammation of the lungs), as well as in the presence of various tumors.
  • When a disease of purulent bronchitis, cancer or flu, sputum is jelly-like crimson with an admixture of blood and pus.

Doctors use the term "three-layered sputum" (bottom - pus and cell debris, in the middle - a yellowish-greenish, muddy watery liquid, from above purulent-mucous foamy mass), which is a symptom of bronchiectasis diseases. Such a sputum with an unpleasant sweetish odor may be a symptom of purulent bronchitis caused by bacteria that produce rot. Fetid smell of phlegm occurs with gangrene of the lungs. In case of tuberculosis, a person expects an abundant amount of sputum containing destroyed and dead lung tissue.

The cause of asthmatic bronchitis or bronchitis may be an allergy to various dusts in the environment. A person inhaling air containing a large number of respiratory irritant substances, falls ill with various occupational diseases, for example, pneumoconiosis (miners, coal miners). Professional bronchial asthma can be affected by: workers of printing houses (from the inhalation of gum arabic), agricultural workers (from the inhalation of dust of cereals and forage), dental appliances, housewives (from house dust).

Treatment with sputum

If the cause of sputum is a professional disease, you should avoid any contact with the substances that cause it. If a chronic lung disease is associated with a particular profession, sometimes you have to change it.

When a very large amount of mucus accumulates in the airways, the doctor can prescribe a procedure for sucking up sputum, eliminating narrowing of the airways and other disturbances (as well as foreign bodies). He will treat the inflammation of the respiratory tract, prescribe drugs that dilute viscous mucus, other drugs (antibiotics, sulfonamides), usually prescribed for the treatment of infection. Depending on the cause that caused the appearance of sputum, the main disease is treated.

Tips for phlegm

  • Sputum is always a symptom of an airway disease.
  • When sputum appears, the patient should consult a doctor to tell what sputum looks like and when it clears more.
  • In sputum, there may be dangerous pathogens (bacteria, fungi, parasites), so it is necessary to try to prevent sponges from touching other people.
  • With a sudden coughing, the mouth should be covered with a napkin. A tissue with sputum is required to be thrown away.


1. Pale skin
2. Pain in the side
3. A sore throat
4. Chest pain
5. Acute abdominal pain