Coughing up Lumps of Jelly? All You Need to Know!

How embarrassing it must be to open your mouth to talk, but end up hearing a cracking voice.

Along with this, the uncontrollable coughing episodes that pull everyone’s attention to you.

These experiences are as unpleasant as they sound!

While all these difficulties are common to anyone with a cold, what if there is no cold? Does coughing up so frequently mean you’re sick?

Are you wondering why you’re coughing up lumps of jelly?

There are many reasons for this. It may be due to a simple viral infection, or anything from bronchitis, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

But, whatever the disease may be, they all have treatments and home remedies.

Common cold, sinus infection, and Rhinitis are all different types of URTI. Common cold, being the most occurring URTI, lasts for about 6-10 days and then clears out. If the symptoms last longer than 3 weeks and are recurring, medical help should be sought.

So, stop worrying and jump into the article to have all your questions answered!

4 Reasons for Coughing up Lumps of Jelly

As many of you may already know, coughing is a natural defense mechanism of our body. But did you ever wonder how that is so?

It’s important to know the answer before knowing why you’re coughing up lumps of jelly. Thus, let’s take a brief look at the mechanism of cough formation before jumping into the 4 reasons.

coughing-up-lumps-of-jelly

We inhale all sorts of particles while breathing. Starting from smoke, dust, germs and so much more.

These particles stick to the mucus lining in the deeper part of our throat. The mucus prevents them from entering the lungs, and thus our body.

There are hair-like structures lining the throat, called cilia. These cilia slowly move and sweep the accumulated mucus towards the top of the throat. This clears up the airways.

The mucus that comes out of the deeper throat or chest, is called phlegm.

Then, this phlegm is either coughed up and thrown out or swallowed. By this process, cough formation is helping our body in 2 main ways:

  • Removing germs by either throwing them out or digesting them when the mucus enters the stomach.
  • Mucus helps by keeping the lining of our throat hydrated.

Thus, as much as a nuisance, sore throats, and coughs can be, they are simply there to help us.

Now, sometimes cough formation is excessive. Sometimes, even the color and texture of cough may be different.

Although these simple changes are not enough to diagnose a disease, they do indicate what may be going on in the body.

So, without further ado, let’s look at 4 reasons for coughing up lumps of jelly.

Infection

An upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) is one of the most common reasons for jelly-like cough formation. This is usually due to a viral infection.

Symptoms may show within 12 hours of infection and may last for a few weeks.

Other Symptoms of URTI

  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Sore throat

Common cold, sinus infection, and Rhinitis are all different types of URTI. Common cold, being the most occurring URTI, lasts for about 6-10 days and then clears out. If the symptoms last longer than 3 weeks and are recurring, medical help should be sought.

sore-throat

The following are some medical treatments and home remedies to ease the common cold.

Treatment

Although common cold goes away on its own, if all the symptoms are too painful, doctors may prescribe antivirals.

Along with the numerous benefits honey has, it can effectively reduce cough. It can also ease a sore throat. Honey has antimicrobial properties and it improves the immune system too.

They effectively remove the cold and are best if taken within 48 hours.

Home Remedies

Most people are familiar with home remedies that can be taken for a common cold. Thus, I have listed down just a few I find most effective.

Salt Water

Gurgling with warm, saltwater provides both direct and indirect benefits. The saltwater will help loosen up mucus so it is easily swept up to the mouth. The warmth of the water soothes a sore throat and clears nasal congestion.

Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in warm water, gurgle with it, then spit it out to feel the magic!

Honey

Did you know honey is an effective cough suppressant?

Along with the numerous benefits honey has, it can effectively reduce cough. It can also ease a sore throat. Honey has antimicrobial properties and it improves the immune system too. 

Honey can be consumed in many other tasty ways, like honey bunches of oats. Mix 2 teaspoons of honey in a glass of warm water, or with lemon tea.

Ginger

The advantages of ginger can not be stressed enough! Along with the immense health benefits of ginger, it can also ease sore throat and cough.

Take a few slices of raw ginger and boil in water. Wait till the water turns slightly yellow, proving the juice of ginger is in it. Drink the water while still warm or mixed with some honey.

OTC

Lastly, some over-the-counter cold medications can be tried. These are mostly for the cold symptoms other than cough.

OTC’s that are present for cough usually have a lot of side effects and thus are least advised.

Bronchitis

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi (An airway of the lungs). This occurs due to irritation and inflammation of the bronchi which causes it to produce more mucus than usual. 

Bronchitis usually occurs following an infection like URTI.

Symptoms of Bronchitis

  • Clear, white, or yellowish cough
  • Wheezing
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Breathing difficulties.

Acute bronchitis lasts for about three weeks and then cures. Chronic bronchitis can be a larger burden, lasting for years. People are especially at risk of developing bronchitis if –

  • They smoke
  • Live in polluted air
  • Live in a lot of dust

So, another reason for coughing is lumps of jelly maybe bronchitis. Acute bronchitis can be treated but chronic bronchitis has no permanent treatment.

bronchitis

However, the symptoms can be eased and the body’s natural healing process can be sped up with some treatments.

Treatment

Acute bronchitis mostly heals on its own after a few weeks. Yet, steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and help in breathing.

Home Remedies

The basic remedies mentioned for the common cold will help with the cough. Aside from those, try to get plenty of rest and drink a lot of water.

Drinking lots of water will prevent the body from dehydrating, thus making the mucus less sticky.

To alleviate chronic bronchitis, some lifestyle changes will be required : 

  • Must quit smoking to prevent the worsening of the disease
  • Avoid pollutants and try wearing face masks to prevent dust entry.
  • Get exercise
  • Follow a healthy diet

Asthma

This is a long-term condition that is due to inflammation of the lungs. It causes severe breathing problems and a lot of mucus formation.

Asthma symptoms may be more common during exercise, smoking, or cold temperature.

Symptoms of Asthma

  • Coughing mostly during night and morning
  • Wheezing
  • Pressure in chest
  • Breathing difficulties.

White mucus is produced in asthma, and excessive production can make breathing even more difficult.

Breathing difficulties can be due to many other reasons too.

Treatment

After diagnosing asthma, the doctor will probably get an asthma action plan ready. This is to watch out for asthma symptoms and control your breathing in case of an asthma attack.

The doctor may also prescribe a corticosteroids inhaler that is an all-life asthma medication. You may have to take these every day to keep asthma under control. These help to reduce mucus production and minimize swellings in the throat lining.

In emergency times, inhalers may be needed without the time to see a doctor. So, it’s best to know how to get inhalers without a doctor.

You may also be suggested taking a nebulizer.

This is a machine that turns liquid medicine into a mist. You have to inhale through the mouthpiece. As a result, this will easily get the medicine through to your lungs.

COPD is caused by a long-term irritation to the lungs that damages them in multiple ways. This irritation can be due to some infection or cigarette smoke, pollution, or dust. 

Medicines like bronchodilators are given through nebulizers and inhalers. This helps relax the muscles in the air passages. This significantly helps in breathing during asthma attacks.

Home Remedies

There are no home remedies that can help cure asthma or asthma attacks. The only effective way is to take medications.

Nevertheless, certain techniques can be tried to make asthma a little less severe.

These include:

  1. Sitting up straight during asthma attacks: Studies prove that this improves breathing.
  2. Try your best to stay calm during the attack.

Try to think of good memories to help yourself relax.

Medication and yoga can be practiced regularly to help calm the mind and rid it of stress.

  1. Keep your inhaler close within hand reach for these times.
  2. Avoid tobacco smoke and keep away from dusty, polluted places.

Asthma coughing and symptoms don’t always show up. Most of the time they’re triggered by situations. 

Thus, maintain some rules and listen to your doctor, and the symptoms may get so occasional, you might even forget you have asthma!

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a chronic lung disease that is characteristic of the following :

  • inflammation of the lining of the airways. 
  • Destruction of alveoli (tiny sacs that help in gaseous exchange in lungs)
  • Excessive mucus production

COPD is usually followed by chronic bronchitis or emphysema. 

We already know what bronchitis is, emphysema is also a lung condition. Here, the alveoli are affected to cause breathing problems.

COPD is caused by a long-term irritation to the lungs that damages them in multiple ways. This irritation can be due to some infection or cigarette smoke, pollution, or dust. 

Symptoms of COPD

  • Regular mucus formation that can be clear, white, green, or yellowish.
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Weakness

Although COPD is a disease that worsens with time, it is treatable. Certain medications and precautions help reduce the symptoms significantly.

Treatment

There are several types of medications for COPD. Depending on the person’s condition, the doctor may suggest any of the following :

Bronchodilators

As already mentioned, this helps relax the muscles of the lungs and makes it easier to breathe. They also help reduce cough.

Examples of common bronchodilators : 

  • Ipratropium like Atrovent HFA
  • Albuterol like Ventolin HFA and many more.
Corticosteroids

There can be two types, inhaled and oral. They both help to reduce inflammation. Inhaled corticosteroids can be taken occasionally when needed.

If COPD gets very severe, a short course of oral steroids may be prescribed. This must not be taken for a long time as it can have serious side effects, like diabetes, osteoporosis, and cataracts.

Breathing Therapy

Extra oxygen is provided into the body through nasal prongs from an oxygen cylinder. This eases breathing and reduces oxygen deficiency from blood. 

Many people use this only during sleeping or exercise.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

This is a program that teaches breathing and physical exercises. It also provides health education, counseling, nutrition advice, etc.

In the case of severe COPD, taking pulmonary therapy reduces readmissions to hospitals.

Home Remedies

Once again, there are no home remedies to cure chronic obstructive lung disease. However, some things can reduce its effects.

  • Prevent smoking, including second-hand smoke
  • Avoid pollution and dust
  • Do light exercise regularly to keep body strong and fit
  • Maintain healthy diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Learn breathing techniques

Following these remedies and suggestions will reduce the severity of the disease.

These are many of the possible reasons for coughing up lumps of jelly. 

Along with these, many other diseases might produce jelly-like phlegm, many of which can be indicated by the different colors of phlegm.

FAQs

What are the little clear balls you cough up?

Solid, white, or yellowish balls of cough can be tonsil stone. These form when debris gets trapped in tonsils. Thes debris includes bacteria, dead cells, etc. 

Tonsil stones are usually harmless and go away with adequate mouth hygiene.

What causes a red or pink cough?

It is usually blood that gives phlegm of this color. Coughing up red or pink phlegm is an indication of pneumonia or tuberculosis. Get medical attention immediately in such cases.

Can excessive cough mean lung cancer?

No, just excessive cough does not indicate lung cancer. Lung cancer has many symptoms including coughing up reddish phlegm and even blood.

Take Away

Well then, this article provided 4 reasons for coughing up lumps of jelly. 

Infection, bronchitis, asthma, and COPD are common reasons. Along with these many, more possibilities are there.

So, if your coughing continues for several weeks, make sure to see a doctor.

Other than this, there’s nothing to worry about. Just keep in mind, your amazing, talented body is simply producing coughs to protect you from any internal harm.

Just relax and let your body do the work!

I hope this article helped. Thank you for your time!

Sumaiya Hasan

Sumaiya Hasan

Hello readers! I'm Sumaiya, an enthusiastic microbiology student from North South University. I love to read & learn about anything new, especially if they're related to health. I believe people should be better educated about their health, and I'm proud to be able to contribute to their knowledge earning process.

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