It's not the most glamorous question but its a very annoying problem. I like to swim about 1km without stopping, but I find every now and again I get thick mucus on the back of my throat that makes me gag or feel like Im about to gag. I have tried taking Ventolin, expectorants like Bisolvan, and have just started Nasonex. Have any other swimmers had this issue and what strategies do you have to prevent it?

  • Do you feel thirsty as well? I have that problem.
    – Freakyuser
    Jun 2, 2013 at 7:08
  • dairy can cause mucous in many people. try removing it from your diet for a few days and see if the symptoms improve. Sep 11, 2013 at 0:54

5 Answers 5


You are right this is not the most glamorous question but many swimmers experience the same problem. Doctor appointment could be a solution but what to do when your nose and throat is healthy and ok?

You can avoid some food which is know to be involved in more mucus creation such as these http://www.livestrong.com/article/339269-foods-that-create-mucus/. The thing is that (looking at list) you can basically stop eating.

I don't want to use any medications for only this one reason so I was forced to find another solution. I'm dealing with this I'd say... psychically.

When I feel I have a mucus on back of my throat I usually slow down my swimming tempo so I can do something with it. I will spare some air to be able to cough very strongly and intensively into the water and try to clear my neck by this. If it doesn't work for 3 or 4 times I just decide to give it up.

Since this time I simply ignore this and breathing slowly and constantly to avoid unnecessary irritation which can cause gag reflex. Plus I'm saying to myself -- this is a natural thing and I'm not the only one with this problem. And simply... keep swimming :)

  • 1
    Thanks for the tips..I think I know what you mean about just ignorning it..I think by trying to get rid of it I make it worse, so ive started to just put up with the lump in the back of the throat sensation. Ive also noticed the issue tends to go away after about 15 laps..
    – Rowan
    Jun 10, 2013 at 8:28

After two GP visits and one visit to an ENT specialist the conclusion is that the root cause is Acid Reflux. I've noticed not eating a couple of hours before drastically reduces the severity of this occurring with it sometimes not occurring at all.. I was told a prescription of Nexium will help or reducing intake of acidic foods.


I have only had problems like this with an active sinus infection or severe allergies, otherwise simply breathing out of my nose every breath keeps everything clear. Go to an immunologist as needed for proper diagnosis and treatment. Finally, Afrin works really well.

  • Well I did go to a doctor and as per expected they were completely useless, as are most doctors..and they wonder why people resort to Google!
    – Rowan
    Jun 6, 2013 at 11:29

In some people mucus buildup happens with physical activity and is linked to the system that drives sweating. I have found it is only managed via techniques. It happens when I run or perform other intense physical activities. I swim as well and find it quite annoying in the first 10 minutes of swimming. As noted above, it tends to be less of a problem after you become warmed up. One technique that can help transition in the warm up is to do a 10 minute run, then move into swimming laps.


I think the comment about running before is a good tip. I normally do a nice 40-60 minutes indoor bike ride before swimming and I don't have any issues. I started training for an Aquabike race, so I decided I should start doing my swim workout first. This is when I noticed this issue. It's so bad sometimes I feel like I can't finish the workout until after 10 or 15 laps. It's been frustrating me so much, I was concerned about not being able to do the race since the first leg is swimming. But reading the post above made me reflect about what changed in my workout. I think the key is being really warmed up before you hit the pool..

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