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Milk vs. phlegm
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Milk vs. phlegm

This question is asked very often by patients, and I have heard different answers.

Does drinking milk CAUSE phlegm production?

My understanding is that during a time when a person is having a bout of producing excess phlegm, they should avoid milk consumption during that time period, because milk aggrevates the phelgm.  ?? Adds viscousity or adheres to the phlegm that is already in the oral cavity?

But I have heard someone tell a patient not to drink milk at all because it CAUSES phlegm production.  I just do not think that this is true.  I do not want patients to avoid a dietary product that is beneficial to them, if that statement is incorrect.

Thank you,

Diane,  RCP
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The fat content in dairy products can thicken mucus that is already present.  Generally eating dairy products with less fat content is helpful.  Drinking plenty of water will help to thin the mucus so that it moves more easily.  As long as the person is not on a fluid restriction they should be drinking 6 to 8 8-ounce glasses of non-caffeine non-alcoholic fluid daily.
2 Comments
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Thats a great question and a misconception at that.

Does milk cause phlegm production? Well INDIRECTLY it does. In general milk does NOT cause increased mucous production. But if you have an allergic reaction to milk, it will cause the body to produce mucous. There are varying degrees of dairy allergies. Some are those severe degrees where it causes GI upset, and some so mild that it merely causes increased phlegm in the back of the throat. It is my experience that most pulmonary patients avaoid dairy products. Especially my cystic kids.

There are some very interesting papers out there regarding dairy allergies and pulmonary patients. I would like to share them with you here, but my entries may get censored.

I hope this answers your question!

Andy, RRT, CPFT
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A related discussion, Milk does not produce mucous or phlegm was started.
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