Chronic Sputum Production

What is sputum?

Sputum - also called 'phlegm' - is mucus that normally coats the inside surfaces of the airways (the windpipe - 'trachea', and the large airways - 'bronchi'). When it is coughed up it is referred to as phlegm, and often contains foreign particles that have been breathed in, such as smoke particles or dust, as well as dead cells. When lots of dead white blood cells are present in the sputum it can appear green or dark brown.

What is chronic sputum production?

This is where excess amounts of sputum are produced by the body.

What causes chronic sputum production?

Chronic sputum production can be caused by a number of conditions that affect the respiratory system. The following conditions can cause excess sputum production...

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 'COPD'
  • Bronchiectasis- abnormal dilation of bronchi usually as a result of severe or recurrent lung infection.
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease 'GERD'
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic lung infections such as tuberculosis, lung abscess

Chronic sputum production is never normal and an underlying cause should be sought. Consult your health practitioner should excessive sputum production persists.