The #1 Cause of Constant Phlegm in Throat

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Do you suffer from thick mucus in the back of your throat and a stuffy nose that’s hard to clear? Postnasal drip and frequent throat clearing can indicate imbalanced digestive function. 

While throat and nasal mucus can be a sign of bacterial infection, persistent and chronic phlegm caused by too much mucus production can result from low stomach acid. 

Let's look at the link between low stomach acid and excessive mucus production and the steps you can take to get rid of phlegm fast.

Young man clears throat

What is phlegm?

Mucus glands in the lungs, nasal passages, and throat produce mucus to lubricate and moisten the upper airways and protect the lungs and sinuses from irritants and allergens by trapping debris and bacteria. 

However, excessive mucus production results in phlegm build-up, which can cause frequent throat clearing, postnasal drip, difficulty swallowing, chronic sinus congestion, and a persistent cough. 

Excess mucus in your throat can indicate various health issues, including chronic lung disease, bacterial infections, and food allergies. It’s typically treated with over-the-counter medication to loosen mucus and nasal sprays to clear congestion.

However, many people suffer from constant phlegm unrelated to an infection or allergic reaction and don’t improve with medications, inhalants, sinus rinse, or other treatments. 

Research suggests that imbalanced digestive function is one of the most common undiagnosed causes of treatment-resistant, chronic phlegm.  


Watch the video below to discover the main reason for constant phlegm and learn how to loosen thick mucus.  

The most common cause of constant phlegm in your throat

Stomach acid plays a vital role in the breakdown and digestion of foods and is a first-line defense to protect from invading microbes. 

Low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, is a common issue that can significantly impact digestive health and has been linked to excessive mucus production, particularly in individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).

Although it’s generally believed that GERD and LPR are caused by excessive stomach acid, increasingly more research suggests that it’s, in fact, low stomach acid that triggers the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus or larynx.   

Inadequate stomach acid levels can result in incomplete digestion and the formation of gas bubbles that increase the pressure within the stomach. This can cause the reflux of stomach content and hydrochloric acid into the esophagus, throat, and vocal cord regions. 

The stomach has a specialized lining that protects against the strong acidity of stomach acid. However, the delicate tissues of the upper respiratory tract are very susceptible to damage by hydrochloric acid and respond with excessive mucus production to form a protective barrier against the concentrated acid of stomach content.

Unfortunately, the most common signs of low stomach acid— bloating, gas, reflux, and belching—are often misdiagnosed as excessive stomach acid and treated with antacids and ace inhibitors that block stomach acid production and likely worsen digestive issues, reflux, and chronic mucus production. 

Acid reflux

How to get rid of throat phlegm

While home remedies such as drinking warm liquids, gargling with salt solution, and chicken soup may provide temporary relief, addressing the root cause of excess mucus production is the only long-term solution to relieve persistent phlegm.

Low stomach acid is widespread, and it’s estimated that more than 25 percent of the population suffers from undiagnosed hypochlorhydria.

Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to promote healthy stomach acid levels and clear mucus. 

Betaine hydrochloride 

Betaine hydrochloride is a highly acidic form of betaine, and research found that supplementing with betaine hydrochloride supports healthy digestion and stimulates the natural production of stomach acid. 

However, if you have stomach ulcers or gastritis, it’s best to talk to your primary care doctor before taking betaine hydrochloride. 


Intermittent fasting

Exploring the essence of what is intermittent fasting, this approach stands as an excellent choice for bolstering healthy digestion and minimizing the occurrence of reflux and excessive mucus production. 

During fasting, your digestive system can rest, allowing more time to secrete hydrochloric acid into the stomach. More concentrated stomach acid promotes healthy digestion and lowers the risk of reflux and subsequent mucus production to protect your throat and vocal cords from the hash acidity of stomach acid. 


Apple cider vinegar 

Apple cider vinegar is a rich source of acetic acid. This naturally occurring acid helps to balance stomach acid concentrations and promotes the breakdown and digestion of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

Regularly consuming an apple cider vinegar drink with meals can reduce reflux and help to prevent mucus and postnasal drip. 

Other causes of phlegm in throat

The development of phlegm and the constant need for throat clearing can have a number of other causes, and it can be difficult to diagnose the exact underlying cause. Paying attention to other symptoms you may be experiencing can help identify what may be causing the excess mucus.

While thick mucus linked with difficulty breathing can indicate a range of lung diseases, constant phlegm accompanied by itchy eyes may be due to an immune system response to pollen, food, or other allergens. 

Young woman clearing throat

Key takeaways

Constant phlegm can be a symptom of digestive issues. If you experience problems such as gas, bloating, or belching, you may have low stomach acid levels, which increases the risk of reflux.

Reflux can trigger mucus production to protect the tissues in your throat and sinuses from the harsh acidity of stomach acid. 

Addressing low stomach acid with betaine hydrochloride supplementation, intermittent fasting, and apple cider vinegar can help clear excess mucus and reduce the need for constant throat clearing. 


1. What causes constant phlegm in my throat?

There are several causes why your upper respiratory tract may produce more mucus than usual. 

While phlegm can indicate infections, allergic reactions, and a range of lung diseases, thick mucus accompanied by digestive issues may be a sign of reflux. 


2. How do I get rid of constant throat phlegm?

That depends on what is causing your excessive mucus production. If the phlegm is due to reflux, it’s crucial to ascertain if you may have low stomach acid that increases the risk of stomach content spilling into the upper respiratory tract.

Supplementing with betaine hydrochloride, intermittent fasting, and apple cider vinegar can balance stomach acid and lowers the risk of acid reflux and subsequent mucus production.

3. Is it normal to have phlegm every day?

Experiencing phlegm every day can indicate an underlying health issue. While some phlegm is usual during bacterial or viral infections, chronic mucus production may indicate low stomach acid, lung diseases, or allergic reactions. 

4. What illness causes a lot of phlegm?

Most respiratory tract illnesses, including bronchitis, asthma, common cold, and flu, cause phlegm. However, phlegm can also indicate digestive issues or allergic reactions. 

5. How do I get rid of phlegm fast?

Warm water, salt gargles, and nasal rinses can temporarily relieve stress. However, to stop excessive mucus production, it’s essential to rule out possible lung conditions or allergies and address acid reflux to prevent hydrochloric acid from spilling into the throat regions, which triggers mucus production. 

6. Should I be worried about phlegm in my throat?

Phlegm can indicate underlying issues, and it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider if you experience persistent and unexplained phlegm. 

7. Why do I have throat phlegm but I’m not sick?

Phlegm is caused by excess mucus produced by mucus glands in the upper respiratory tract. If you don’t feel sick, you may have unknown allergies or undiagnosed low stomach acid that causes acid reflux and triggers mucus production.

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