All That Mucous!
Written By: Sue
February 7, 2012
The Truth About Mucous
Have you ever noticed a sunbeam shining through the window with thousands of particles and wondered what they are? It could be anything from dust to pollen to pollution- you name it! Now imagine taking a breath through your nose. Guess where some of those particles go? Not such a pleasant thought, unless you understand the function of nasal mucous.
Nasal mucous isn’t something most of us think about unless we get a cold. Then we can’t stop thinking about it as it drips out our nose and drains down the back of our throat. So what is all that mucous about?!
On a normal day, mucous creates a protective coating inside our nose and prevents dry out. Mucous contains antibodies and enzymes that work together to rid the body of bacterium and viruses. It also traps unwanted particles such as the pollen or dust in that sunbeam. That being said, the mucous then drains down the back of the throat, is swallowed and destroyed by stomach acid. Believe it or not, each day over 1 liter of mucous trickles down the back of your throat with hardly a notice.
On a day when we have a cold or allergies, it’s another story. The body goes on alert and produces histamines. These histamines trigger more mucous production in an attempt to rid the body of the virus or pollen. The mucous also changes consistency and becomes ‘thicker’ which is why we now notice it draining down the back of our throat. All that mucous is good to clear the body of an unwanted invader, but you might wonder how good it can be if it turns yellow or green as is often the case with a cold. You might wonder if you have an infection.
Contrary to popular belief, mucous is not an indicator of infection. It’s your immune system sending white blood cells called neutrophils to the area on alert. Neutrophils contain a greenish colored enzyme, and if enough are sent, they can make the mucous yellow or green. You can, however, have an infection with clear mucous so remember mucous color is not an indicator of infection.
This time of year, most people just want to know how to get rid of the mucous so they can get back to work or school. It is my hope that you will stick to natural choices and use the pharmaceutical options only when absolutely necessary. The mucous production during a cold is beneficial to heal the body. If you chose a synthetic/chemical decongestant for example you may dry out too much and the mucous (along with the cilia) can’t do its job! This actually increases the likelihood that the cold will hang around.
The best advice I can give you when you are sick is to take it easy and remember to slow down. Sometimes a cold occurs simply because you’re moving too fast. It’s our body’s way of saying, I’m tired! I need a break!
Take a look at what the Baraka crew does when they are sick. Every one of them is different!