Mucus is like the oil in your car engine. We need mucus to survive and live healthily. But what exactly is normal mucus?
Mucus – a gelatinous, sticky and colourless substance – is produced by tissues in your mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs and gut. Mucus covers all these parts and keeps them moist. Without mucus, these delicate tissues become dry and cracked.
In your airways, mucus is there to trap things like dust and germs you inhale with each breath. By doing this, mucus protects your lungs. Mucus also offers additional protection as they contain antibodies that can kill these trapped germs.
On average, you’re producing 1 -1.5 litres of mucus each day – even when you’re healthy. You just don’t realise it because most of the mucus trickles down your throat.
There are times when your mucus is not so normal – when it’s thicker and there’s more of it than usual.
When you’re allergic to something like dust, for example, your body produces a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes you to sneeze, itch and produce more mucus. So, you end up with a runny nose. Even certain foods like milk and hotpepper can cause runny nose.
Yellow or green mucus.
When you look at your mucus after you blow your nose and find it’s become yellow or green, it may be likely that you have an infection. The colour is caused by an enzyme found in a type of white blood cell called neutrophils.
When you catch a cold or the flu, your immune system alerts neutrophils, which rush to your sinuses and airways. This causes your mucus to change colour. When you have an infection, you may also have blocked nose, fever and pressure in your face.
Reddish or brownish streaks.
If your nose becomes dry or irritated due to too much rubbing, blowing or picking, your mucus may have streaks of reddish or brownish blood. You don’t have to worry if it’s just a small amount of blood. But if you see more blood appearing in your mucus, see your doctor right away.
Mucus be gone
Drink plenty of warm fluids especially water to thin the mucus and make it flow out easily. It also helps to prevent dehydration when you’re ill.
Take a cough syrup containing ivy leaf extract that thins out your mucus. You can then easily cough it out.
Antihistamines work to counter the actions of histamine produced by your body and cuts down the amount of mucus produced.
Your doctor may also prescribe a decongestant. to reduce the blood flow to your nose and help you breathe better.
References: 1. Everyday Health. Available at www.everydayhealth.com 2. Livestrong.com. Available at www.livestrong.com 3. WebMD. Available at www.webmd.com