How to Get Rid of Mucus Buildup in the Lungs

An older woman wearing SmartVest while using a tabletAs we head into the cold and flu season, you or a loved one may be experiencing mucus buildup in the lungs, also known as phlegm. Though chest congestion can make you feel uncomfortable and cause difficulty with breathing, your body’s natural response is to mobilize mucus buildup in the lungs and cough, causing the phlegm to loosen and thin.

When Mucus in the Lungs Won’t Go Away

Mucus typically gets a bad reputation, but it actually helps protect your body from the spread of bacteria and allergies by trapping germs.1 When we become sick, however, whether it is caused by the common cold, flu, or seasonal allergies, your mucus can change color and become thicker, making it more difficult for your body to clear independently. When this happens, you leave your lungs prone to infection and a worsening of symptoms. 

Request a Patient PacketCommon Symptoms of Mucus Buildup in the Lungs:

According to Medical News Today2, common symptoms of mucus build up in your lungs may include:

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Sore Throat
  • Chest Congestion
  • Cough that Produces Phlegm
  • Respiratory Infection


How to Get Rid of Mucus Buildup in Lungs Naturally

Looking for natural ways on how to get rid of mucus in your lungs? Here are some helpful tips provided by Medical News Today and the National Jewish Health Foundation that your clinician may recommend you try at home:


Stay Hydrated

Hydration icon

If you’re experiencing the onset of a cold or allergies, drink plenty of fluids, particularly warmer beverages (i.e. broth, tea, warm water), as they can help thin mucus and provide immediate relief from chest pain caused by congestion.3


Take a Bath or Hot Shower

Shower icon

Another tip from Medical News Today is to slowly inhale the steam from a hot bath or shower. You can also fill a bowl with hot water and gently breathe in the steam and moisture with a towel covering the bowl and your face. This can help loosen mucus and clear it from your nose, reducing sinus pressure, as well as your throat, minimizing chest congestion.4


Practice Huff Coughing

Coughing icon

The National Jewish Health Foundation recommends practicing huff coughing: “Take a breath that is slightly deeper than normal. Use your stomach muscles to make a series of three rapid exhalations with the airway open, making a “ha, ha, ha” sound.”5 Practice this technique to help loosen and move mucus upward toward the larger airways.


Subscribe to the SmartVest Blog

How to Get Rid of Mucus Buildup in Lungs with Airway Clearance

A woman in a SmartVest having a conversation with a friend

If you’re living with a chronic lung condition like bronchiectasis or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), the challenge of clearing excess mucus from the lungs can significantly increase. This is especially true if you’ve experienced recurring respiratory infections. Your treatment may involve the use of antibiotics coupled with an effective airway clearance device to help clear your airways.

The SmartVest Airway Clearance System is a high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) therapy device that works by delivering repeating pulses of air that gently squeeze and release the upper body. The oscillation helps loosen mucus and propel it upwards, where it can be more easily coughed out, preventing the spread of infection that could further damage your lungs. When used consistently, SmartVest can help you or your loved one experience symptom relief and prevent mucus build up from keeping you in bed or in the hospital, away from your family and favorite activities. To learn more about the benefits of using SmartVest, request an information packet today!

Request a Patient Packet

Talk To Mike, our patient advocate

  1.  Everyday Health. “What is Mucus?” Retrieved from
  2. Medical News Today. “What causes mucus in the lungs?” Retrieved from
  3. Medical News Today. “What causes mucus in the lungs?” Retrieved from
  4. Medical News Today. “What causes mucus in the lungs?” Retrieved from
  5. National Jewish Foundation. “Techniques to Bring Up Mucus.” Retrieved from