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Mythbusters: Does milk cause phlegm?

We have heard this from young-”Don’t drink milk if you have cough or otherwise you will have more phlegm!!!”

Is this actually true or a myth?

Older people believe that drinking milk makes the mucus become thicker, throat become itchier and they feel that they cough more.

As I grew older, I started wondering if this was an old wives’ tale or is there science behind not taking milk when one has a lot of phlegm. Below are the findings backed up with research and science:

An image of milk in varying containers and mucus in the airway
  • Milk does not result in production of extra mucus or phlegm even when one is sick or has a cold.2012 study by the BC Children’s Hospital concludes that no definitive link has been provided between milk and increased mucus production, and that “milk should not be eliminated or restricted.”
Milk emulsions

  • The emulsion texture of milk can make many feel like their saliva has become thicker.

Calcium is essential for bones!
  • Milk is an important source of vitamins and minerals like calcium. It helps maintain bone health and prevents bone loss.
Different types of plant based milk
  • It is recommended to have 2 servings of milk or milk products. If one is lactose intolerant, they can opt for plant-based milk like oat or soy milk.


1. Does Drinking Milk Increase Mucus Production? Pinnacle ENT Associates LLC.

2. Milk consumption and mucus production in children with asthma, Can Fam Physician, PubMed.

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