Phlegm. It's hard to spell, sounds terrible and feels worse. Physicians and researchers call excess phlegm in the lungs and upper chest "chronic mucus hypersecretion." A runny nose, sneezing and coughing up phlegm are common symptoms of seasonal allergies such as hay fever. Chronic phlegm is also associated with asthma and chronic bronchitis and can also be a symptom of occupational allergies, particularly exposure to food additives made from mold.
Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is very common, affecting one out of every five people, according to MayoClinic.com. Hay fever symptoms start immediately after you are exposed to the allergic substance and can be long-lasting. Coughing, a runny nose, itchy eyes and mucus-filled sinuses are all familiar hay fever symptoms. Hay fever symptoms can be triggered by outdoor allergens including tree pollen, grasses and weeds and indoor allergens, including mold, pet dander and dust mites.
Most people do not associate food allergies with respiratory symptoms like cough and phlegm. Milk allergy symptoms can include immediate wheezing, followed later by coughing, a runny nose and itchy eyes, similar to hay fever symptoms. If you have a food allergy that causes respiratory symptoms, it is very likely that you will also experience gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal cramps and diarrhea in addition to the respiratory symptoms that include excess phlegm.
A chronic cough, runny nose, sneezing and post-nasal drip are symptoms of an allergic reaction to mold. Most allergic responses to mold aren't serious, but severe responses can lead to mold-induced asthma and mold infections of the lungs and sinuses. A 2011 study published in the "Journal of Allergy" linked a special industrial form of asthma including chronic phlegm and cough to food enzymes which are manufactured from mold and used to make cheese, bakery goods and other processed foods.
Chronic bronchitis is a cough with mucus or phlegm that lasts for at least three months. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking, according to the National Institutes of Health, but allergies and exposure to environmental irritants can worsen the condition. In 1988, physicians reporting in the "British Medical Journal" identified a link between childhood allergies and asthma and later problems with chronic bronchitis among young adults.
- MayoClinic.com; Hay Fever; April 2010
- National Institutes of Health; Bronchitis; Allen J. Blaivas; April 2010
- MayoClinic.com; Milk Allergy; Symptoms; August 2011
- National Institutes of Health; Allergic Rhinitis; Paula J. Busse; June 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Cough; 2011
- "British Medical Journal"; Asthma as a link between chest illness in childhood and chronic cough and phlegm in young adults; D.P. Strachan et al.; March 1988.
- "Journal of Allergy"; Industrial Fungal Enzymes: An Occupational Allergen Perspective; Brett Green et al.; March 2011
- MayoClinic.com; Mold Allergy; Symptoms; September 2010