Dr. Dean

Colds And Phlegm: Should You Spit It Out?

Posting Date: 04/26/1999

Original Broadcast Date: Jan. 11, 1999

E-mail Question: When you have a cold, are you supposed to spit out phlegm and get rid of it?

Dr. Dean: Actually, there was an article that stated blowing your nose increases pressure in there and can drive mucus and germs up your Eustachian tubes and make matters worse.

This is a cultural thing. We stop people from spitting it out in the street here because of public health issues. In China, for instance, they are increasingly stopping people from doing it.

Your stomach is well prepared to keep your phlegm, because the acid in your stomach kills the germs. They are germs that are inside you anyway, so I don't see any health disadvantage.