What is mucus and how to get rid of it? Mucus is a slippery fluid that is produced by your body naturally.
It is produced by glands in organs, including the mouth, nose, throat, stomach, intestines, and vagina.
Although mucus production is natural and healthy, excess mucus production can be a sign of illness, including the common cold.
Knowing about the role mucus plays in your body when it’s healthy can help you spot when your mucus is abnormal, which could indicate that you’re sick.
What Is Mucus And How To Get Rid Of It?
Mucus is produced in order to protect the body and keep it functioning in a healthy way.
The function of mucus depends on its location in your body: it can serve as a lubricant, a protective barrier, or a substance that helps trap foreign bodies or flush them out of your body.
So, while mucus might seem gross, it’s important. Mucus in your lungs can help remove bacteria that might otherwise cause infection.
Mucus in your nose can help prevent viruses, bacteria, and allergens from entering the body.
Vaginal mucus can help women get pregnant, or avoid pregnancy if they wish, while mucus in the gut helps our digestive system function.
Mucus is produced by mucus glands. The structure of mucus varies depending on its purpose and the area of your body in which it is found.
All mucus is made from mucin, a substance that your body produces, but really it is mostly water. In fact, 90% of mucus is water. Most mucus is slick and clear.
Why Do We Have Mucus?
Under normal circumstances, mucus helps keep you healthy. There are a few ways that this works, including:
- In your lungs and gut, mucus makes it harder for bacteria to stick together. In turn, that can reduce your risk for infections.
- In your nose, mucus drips down to clear out the nostrils, taking dirt, allergens, and other disease agents with it.
- In your throat, mucus provides the lubrication that you need to swallow and speak without discomfort.
- In your cervix, mucus accepts, filters, prepares, and releases sperm for successful transport to the egg and fertilization.
Most adults will produce between 1 and 1.5 quarts of mucus a day—most of it in the respiratory tract, which includes the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs.
Most people don’t notice their mucus until something goes wrong.
Mucus And Sickness
With some illnesses, your mucus becomes very noticeable. Think about the common symptoms of a cold—congestion, coughing, and sore throat are all linked to mucus.
When you’re fighting various viral or bacterial illnesses, your mucus becomes thicker. That makes it move less easily, and become more noticeable.
Your body also produces more mucus when you’re sick with some illnesses, in an attempt to flush out germs that are making you ill.
There are a few things you can do to control mucus when you are sick. First, drink plenty of water.
Remember that mucus is mostly made from water, so staying hydrated can make your mucus thinner and therefore easier to move around.
When you feel the need to cough, sneeze, or blow your nose, listen to your body. These actions are the body’s way of expelling mucus that has done its job and caught germs and other intruders.
How To Get Rid Of Mucus
Controlling mucus while you’re sick won’t make your illness go away, but it can help you feel more comfortable.
If you’re experiencing too much mucus in your nose or chest, try the following:
Breathe in steam: The water in the steam will help break up the mucus and make it easier to cough up or blow out into a tissue.
Use a humidifier: Similarly, keeping the air moist can help move your mucus around.
Use saline spray or nasal irrigation: This can push the mucus out of your nose and help clear your sinuses.
Some over-the-counter medications can also help. Expectorants, like Mucinex, break up chest congestion, while decongestants, like Sudafed, are more effective for nasal congestion.
Remember to consult your doctor before taking any Over-The-Counter medication (OTC).
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