We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Does Clear Phlegm Mean I Don't Have an Infection?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Healthy phlegm or mucus is usually thin and clear, and so we tend to assume if we’re producing clear phlegm, or clear snot, there is no infection or illness present. The truth is that clear phlegm can be a symptom or side effect of certain infections and illnesses. These infections are usually viral in nature, which means antibiotics are not necessary. Some of the most common viral infections that produce clear mucus include sinus infections, the common cold, and influenza. Usually, your body will fight these infections on its own, but you should see your doctor if other severe symptoms are present and persist.

You can experience clear phlegm during either a viral or a bacterial infection, but clear mucus is more common during viral infections. For example, you might produce clear mucus if you have a sinus infection that is not bacterial in nature. If this is the case, the mucus might also be sticky or glue-like and you might have swollen and tender sinuses and nasal passages. If the bacteria become trapped in the nasal passages, the sinus infection might become a bacterial infection. When this happens, your mucus can become yellow or green and it might become thick or clumpy.

Other kinds of infections that produce clear mucus include the common cold and influenza. Both of these infections are viral infections, and both can cause you to produce an excess of clear mucus that is present in your nose and the back of your throat during the beginning and ending stages of the illnesses. During the first few days of contracting a cold or flu, your phlegm will probably be thin and clear and you might have a runny nose. Once your body starts responding to these infections, though, your phlegm might become yellow or green and even change consistency. Later, once your immune system is closer to eliminating the infection, the mucus will become clear again.

Since clear phlegm is more commonly present with viral infections, usually you do not need antibiotics to treat them. If the symptoms are particularly severe, your doctor might prescribe medication to treat the sinus infection or manage the cold or flu symptoms. Otherwise, over-the-counter medications are usually effective in managing the symptoms until your body’s immune system fights the infection. Always seek medical attention if the phlegm becomes discolored or if it is accompanied by severe symptoms such as pain, chills, or a fever.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Perdido — On Oct 03, 2012

If I have a cough with phlegm, even if it is clear phlegm, I usually see my doctor. In my experience, I can't recover from chest congestion with phlegm unless I have help.

If I have a viral infection, I can at least get some strong prescription cough medicine to help me sleep. Some doctors will even prescribe pain pills to help you with the soreness in your lungs and bronchial tubes from coughing up all that phlegm!

By OeKc05 — On Oct 02, 2012

I had so much clear phlegm in my throat and nose during the week I was sick with a cold that I had to keep tissues stuffed up my nostrils! Within fifteen minutes, a tissue would become soaked, and I would have to replace it.

It just seemed more efficient than blowing my nose every few seconds. Clear phlegm with a cold may not indicate an infection that can be treated by a doctor, but it really can make your life miserable!

I couldn't go anywhere, because I would not be seen with that tissue plugging my nose. However, if I removed it, clear mucus would drip down constantly!

By Kristee — On Oct 02, 2012

@Oceana – My sinus infection started out with clear phlegm, but within a few weeks, I started producing yellow phlegm. It really stopped up my nasal passages and made it hard to breathe. I also developed an ear ache, and one side of my throat was really dry and sore.

I tried taking antihistamines, but nothing really helped. I finally went to my doctor, and she told me that bright yellow phlegm is a sign of a bacterial infection.

She gave me antibiotics, and I got better within a few days. If I had known how easy this was to treat, I would have gone long ago!

By Oceana — On Oct 01, 2012

I knew I had a sinus infection when what I thought were allergy issues just did not go away. My ears and nose became clogged with phlegm, but since it was clear, I didn't go to the doctor.

I took decongestants to relieve my sinus pressure. This dried up the phlegm a bit and reduced the swelling in my nose. I was able to breathe at night, and it was the best of the phlegm remedies I had tried.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.