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Is it bad to swallow phlegm once you cough it up? If so, why? Where does it go?
Medical Question

Swm 39 4 Younger Swf Forever

Probably not bad...just gross.

You digest it, if you swallow it. You can figure out where it goes from there.

My daughter who is 4 and doesn't understand spitting the "gunk" out swallows it and then throws it all up again. Double gross...sorry about that!

When my six year old son swallows it he ends up throwing it up. I would assume it is going into his stomach.

My doctor told me to spit it out. I now know this is because our body doesn't process it well. It can go to our stomach and sit there. But how can you work and spit all day? There are digestive aids that your doctor can tell you about or you can get from a health food store. If you have the digestive enzymes you don't have to go around spitting all day.

Matt A
The very best thing to do is to spit it out. Especially if its green or yellow. Green or yellow indicates an infection such as bacteria. If you swallow it, your stomach acid should kill most of the bacteria however, it may not kill all of it. So you are just moving the infection from one place to another. I would advise you to spit it out. If you are coughing up yellow or green sputum, you may want to see a doctor soon.

Karen F
It won't hurt you to swallow it. When you cough the phlegm comes out of the lungs into the mouth by way of the trachea. When you swallow, the trachea covers and does not allow anything you swallow to go back into your lungs. What you swallows goes down a tube called the esophagus and into the stomach. These are two seperate tubes, therefore, it is impossible for it to go right back into the lungs. The only reason that you might not want to do this, is because it might cause you to be nauseated. If you would like to enhance the expectoration of phlegm out of your lungs, drink plenty of water, and add moisture to the air that you are breathing. You can do this by using a humidifier, or setting a pot of water on the stove and letting the steam go into the air and breathing this. Go luck! Hope you feel better soon.

Coughing usually means there is something in the respiratory passages that should not be there. This can be caused by breathing in dust particles in the air or when a piece of food goes down the wrong way.

It could also be a sign that an infection in the lungs is making the respiratory passages produce phlegm.

Coughing is a common symptom when the airways of the respiratory passage are 'tight'. That tightness is usually caused by that Phlegm you are hacking up. Swallowing that same phlegm will only cause you to recough it back up, thus, not eliminating the problem.

The cough reflex is a vital part of the body's defence mechanisms. Normally, the lungs and the lower respiratory passages are sterile. If dust or dirt get into the lungs, they could become a breeding ground for bacteria and cause pneumonia or infection in the breathing tubes.

It's best if you spit out the phlem. This will help empty the cause of the blocked airway and assist you with the healing process.

If you have coughed this up from your lungs and you have a bacterial infection in your lungs, this is being swallowed into your stomach. More than not, it won't hurt you as you have acid in the stomach that will take care of that, but it migh make you nauseous.

although it's kind of gross, it's not harmful (or at least no more harmful then it was before you coughed it up) when you swallow it, it goes into your stomach and gets digested.

Um, not really. You swallow mucus all the time. It goes to your stomach of course.

Of course, there is really no reason to swallow the phlegm, so if it's convenient you may want to spit it out.

No it won't hurt you. (It may make you a bit sick on your stomach though) It's actually just part of your body's natural defense system. When you swallow it, it goes into your stomach where any bacteria that may be in it are killed by your stomach acid. (This is one of the reasons why you shouldn't take too many Tums...it help neutralize the acid that protects you).

Your sinuses drain down your throat and usually the mucous goes into your stomach to be taken care of there, but if you are having excessive discharge from your sinuses, some of it goes into your lungs as well. Thus, when you cough up the phlegm and swallow it, gross as it sounds, you're doing what your body would have done anyway.
Your lungs have cilia lining them as well. These are tiny hair like structures that move and beat upward to move the mucous out of your lungs. They do so by bringing it from the depths of your lungs up to your throat, aiding by your coughing and then you essentially swallow it. That would be the phlegm. You don't even notice the process unless you've got a lot of mucous, like during a cold.

When people smoke cigarettes, they kill the cilia in their lungs and they can't clear the mucous from their lungs as well or at all. That where the famous "smoker's cough" comes from.

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