Mucus: The oil of the body’s engine

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Mucus is part of life and everyone has it. Especially during a cold or sinus infection, tissue after tissue can become filled with mucus. It can feel disgusting and sometimes embarrassing in front of others, but mucus serves a pertinent purpose. Some doctors even refer to mucus as the oil for the body’s engine. We find mucus in the lining of the nose, throat, sinuses, lungs, and mouth. It is a protective blanket to these areas to keep them from drying out. It is like a fly trap on our bodies that catches unwanted bacteria and dust before they can enter the body. Mucus is powerful because it contains antibodies that recognize which substances from the environment to filter out. The trapping nature of mucus is why it is sticky and gooey in texture.

Even when not sick, the body produces 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus on a daily basis. Most of it goes down the throat with saliva and is unnoticed. When a person becomes sick, that is when they notice the high amounts the body produces. It takes becoming sick or having bad allergies to trigger the mucus production into overdrive.

Mucus does change color from time to time. Looking down at a tissue of mucus doesn’t always produce the same picture. It can be yellowish, green, brown, or even red. When a person is sick, the immune system sends white blood cells to the protective areas with mucus which produces the green color. However, that doesn’t mean that every batch of mucus when sick is green. When the nose is dry or irritated it can produce brown or red mucus. The nostrils contain many red blood vessels and a small amount of blood can show up in mucus.

A person can never fully get rid of mucus from the body, but it’s nice to be alleviated of such vast production when sick. There are over the counter antihistamines and decongestants that can help. Decongestants cause the blood vessels that line the nostril to narrow, which reduces blood flow. These dry up the mucus and make it thick. Antihistamines block or limit histamines which are triggered by allergic reactions and cause a running nose. Guaifenesin can also be used which thins out the mucus and makes it easer to get out of the body. A more natural route is using a neti-pot no remove mucus with a nasal irrigation. However, washing too much of the bad out can also wash some of the good out too.

Mucus is normal. We all have it. It serves a purpose. Yes, it can be irritating and disruptive, but its protective role in blocking bacteria is part of what our body needs. Just blow it out when there is too much. There are worse nuances we deal with.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2736374/

https://www.healthline.com/health/green-phlegm

https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/how-to-get-rid-of-phlegm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2154152/

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Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor.