Much Ado About Mucus


much ado about mucusMucus. We all have it. In fact, our bodies produce between 1 to 1 ½ liters of mucus every day. Admittedly, mucus is pretty gross, but it does play an important role in our health as a filter for things like dust, smoke, bacteria, viruses and other allergens, and it contains antibiotics and enzymes to attack these things when they do get in. Mucus also acts to lubricate; WebMD explains:

Mucus-producing tissue lines the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. Mucus acts as a protective blanket over these surfaces, preventing the tissue underneath from drying out.

Sinus Issues Show Their True Colors

When everything is normal, the mucus slides right down your throat so you may not even notice it’s there. That said, when your sinus or allergy issues start acting up and mucus production kicks into high speed, you know it. When this happens, you’ll not only notice that the color and consistency of the mucus has changed, you won’t feel your best either.

There’s an old wives’ tale that says that if you have an infection, the bacteria turns the mucus green or yellow. In part this is true, but you can have a sinus infection with all of the typical symptoms, but perfectly clear mucus. This is because what causes the color change isn’t the irritant, but the flood of neutrophils, or white blood cells, that contain a greenish-colored enzyme. In addition, the thicker the mucus, the greener it appears.

Mucus can also be a dark red or brown, which indicates blood. A small amount of blood is harmless is common and usually, indicates dry or irritated nasal passages. However, if you are seeing a large amount of blood in your mucus, you should call your doctor.

In the Thick of Things …

The other telltale sign of illness is the consistency of the mucus. Everyday Health explains:

  • Mucus exposed to bacteria or allergens contains histamine, which “causes the tissue in your nasal passages to swell and produce more, thinner mucus. This usually leads to a runny nose, as well as sneezing, itching, and nasal stuffiness.”
  • The thicker and stickier the mucus is, the less it’s able to slide down your throat, causing congestion and possibly difficulty breathing or swallowing.
  • Thick mucus can lead to post-nasal drip.
  • The inside of your nose may feel crusty/stuffed when the mucus thickens.

How to be Free and Clear of Mucus

Well, as we said above, mucus is an essential component of health, but thickened mucus is a sign of illness. Like with other sinus ailments, treatment can include either prescription or over-the-counter methods such as antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, antibiotics, nasal sprays, saline irrigation, and humidifiers.  

Or, if you are looking for a more permanent relief, you can make an appointment at CT Sinus Center. Before anything else, our expert physicians will get to the root of what is causing your sinus and allergy issues by taking the time to talk to you about your symptoms and medical history — even before they start their thorough testing. Once the cause is discovered, they will create an individualized treatment plan that is right for your lifestyle. You may even be as candidate for one of our two outpatient procedures that can end sinus and allergy suffering in about an hour:

  • Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, promoting draining and natural healing
  • Turbinate Reductions, in which the tissue in the nose that supports the nasal passages is decreased, decreasing the size of the turbinate and quickly increasing airflow

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices, and what your symptoms lighten up.

For more information on sinus– and allergy-related conditions and treatments, visit the CT Sinus Center website and blog.

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