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View Full Version : The REAL Spit or Swallow Question - What do you do with phlegm? (Oh yeah, TMI)


Cat Whisperer
04-01-2005, 10:57 PM
My husband (a very experienced phlegmist) swears that you must always expel all phlegm from a cold (or just in general). I figure that it probably is a good idea to spit out phlegm as much as you can, but sometimes you can't spit when you've just coughed up a nice, fat lugey, and you just gotta swallow it.

So, what's the Straight Dope on swallowing phlegm? Will it re-infect you, or make a cold last longer? Are there any negative consequences, other than it being really gross?

(With the understanding here that we are talking about your *own* phlegm, of course. :D )

simple homer
04-02-2005, 12:19 AM
Very good question about reinfecting yourself. But, I would assume that my stomach acid would kill whatever is in my phlegm, AND I think spitting is rude as hell, so I always swallow.

Anyways, I am curious to see what the official answer is about reinfection :)

Pushkin
04-02-2005, 09:34 AM
AND I think spitting is rude as hell, so I always swallow.

Which is why I always wait till I'm near a bathroom or carry tissues when suffering so :)

As for stomach acid, I thought that if you had a bad cold and were producing much phlegm swallowing lots of it would just make you feel naseous and thus should be avoided.

AskNott
04-02-2005, 01:51 PM
I've never been any good at hawking it up past my throat without sounding like I'm near death. So, I swallow the phlegm.

When I went to my doctor last week for my bronchitis, he asked me what color my coughed-up phlegm was, I couldn't tell him. I guess some folks are born phlegmish, and some aren't.

Cat Whisperer
04-02-2005, 07:03 PM
I kinda thought that you would just digest the swallowed phlegm into its component mucopolysaccharides and such. Maybe not.

hlanelee
04-03-2005, 09:06 AM
Well, I used to chew tobacco, then I graduated to snuff, then I quit because I watched someone suffer and die of esophageal cancer.

I like to spit and I enjoy an opportunity to hawk a loogie of phlegm!

Pushkin
04-03-2005, 01:07 PM
When I went to my doctor last week for my bronchitis, he asked me what color my coughed-up phlegm was, I couldn't tell him

Mum always demands to know what colour ours is when we're down with a dose of the cold so we have to, erm, check on it. So spitting is natural in our family :P

Khampelf
04-03-2005, 09:15 PM
I hawk away as much as I can. I figure that's where the dead bacteria and toxins have accumulated, why would I want to make my system deal with it, stomach acid or no.

Plus, then My throat feels cleaner, I hate feeling like I'm coated in goo.

Pardon.

Haaaaak--POOO!!

AskNott
04-04-2005, 01:57 AM
...I hate feeling like I'm coated in goo.

Pardon.

Haaaaak--POOO!!
You are (internally) coated with goo, whether you hate it or not. The inside of your digestive tract (from mouth to anus,) your respiratory tract, and your reproductive bits are lined with mucus. You cannot escape it. You are gooey inside! :eek:

Become the goo. The goo is you.

"Goo goo goo joob." --Lennon-McCartney

chimichanga
04-04-2005, 05:57 AM
Hawk? I always thought it was hock a loogy. Anyway, I heard that if you swallow phlegm it eats away at your stomach lining and acts like a poison but at worst only makes you feel nauseous.

Interesting first thread! :)

chimichanga
04-04-2005, 05:59 AM
Hawk? I always thought it was hock a loogy. Anyway, I heard that if you swallow phlegm it eats away at your stomach lining and acts like a poison but at worst only makes you feel nauseous.

Interesting first post! :)

chimichanga
04-04-2005, 06:36 AM
Hawk? I always thought it was hock a loogy. Anyway, I heard that if you swallow phlegm it eats away at your stomach lining and acts like a poison but at worst only makes you feel nauseous.

Interesting first thread! :)

Oops sorry, that was meant to be 'first post', referring to me :smack:

hlanelee
04-04-2005, 07:32 AM
Hawk? I always thought it was hock a loogy.
In my trusty Webster's New World Dictionary beside my computer, it says Hawk. I made sure and consulted as this is a matter of much importance.

Acsenray
04-04-2005, 11:27 AM
There are few things more disgusting than someone else's spit in a public place. Thus, as a courtesy to others, I always swallow, and I wish, for my benefit, everyone else would as well.

Khampelf
04-04-2005, 11:57 AM
You are (internally) coated with goo, whether you hate it or not. The inside of your digestive tract (from mouth to anus,) your respiratory tract, and your reproductive bits are lined with mucus. You cannot escape it. You are gooey inside! :eek:

Become the goo. The goo is you.

"Goo goo goo joob." --Lennon-McCartney


Well, yeah. But when it's gurgling in my throat, it's too much goo. If I can tell there's anything in my throat, it's too much goo. We won't admit to secretions from internal membranes, and you can't mucus!!! :D

As for Hawk/Hock = Just try to Hock a loogey and see what kind of look the pawnbroker gives you.

Cat Whisperer
04-04-2005, 08:33 PM
I hate spit in public places, too. If I have to spit and I have no kleenex with me, I will discreetly spit on the dirt, so it will be soaked up, and not splattered on the sidewalk for all to see in its slimy yellow glory.

chimichanga, the mucous lining your stomach is what keeps it from being digested. I can't imagine that swallowing phlegm from a head cold would eat away at your stomach. If anything, it would *add* to your mucous lining.

chimichanga
04-04-2005, 10:57 PM
Ew. I think I preferred being ignorant. My GP told me that years ago when I asked why I felt like throwing up when I had the flu but maybe he meant it in a different context.

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