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Was Ihr Schleim über Ihre Gesundheit aussagt

von NFI Redaktion

The Importance of Mucus

Mucus might seem annoying, something you never seem to have a tissue for, but it’s actually one of your body’s greatest defenders.

This slippery, sometimes sticky substance comes from the mucous membranes lining your airways – nose, mouth, larynx, trachea, and lungs. It provides moisture to the air we breathe and lubricates your airways. „Mucus serves a protective function by capturing debris, allergens, dust, and pathogens like viruses and bacteria, which can then be transported out of the body,“ says Ken Yanagisawa, MD, President of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

The Significance of Mucus Color

You’ve probably noticed that mucus comes in different colors and textures when you’re sick, congested, or suffering from a condition like sinusitis. While mucus color alone isn’t enough to always diagnose an illness or specific condition, it can guide you in the right direction.

And even when you don’t notice it, mucus is always there.

Thin and clear. It’s the runny stuff that occurs with allergies. Clear mucus, mostly consisting of water but full of dissolved salts, proteins, and antibodies, can also indicate that your body is in a healthy state. Most of it silently slides down your throat and dissolves in your stomach without you noticing.

White. Your nose may be congested. Swollen tissue in your nasal passages slows down mucus flow, while moisture loss thickens and clouds it. This type of mucus sets the stage for a cold or sinus infection.

Yellow. A cold or infection can lead to mucus production. Your mucus may take on a yellowish tint as your white blood cells rush to the site of the infection to fend it off.

Green. Dead white blood cells can make your mucus turn green and sticky. Your immune system is on high alert. Call your doctor if no improvement occurs within 10 to 12 days or if you have a fever. If you have a sinus infection, a bacterial infection, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to clear up the illness.

Brown. You may have noticed a strong smell resembling dirt. The brownish mucus may also be tinged with old blood.

It’s rare, but with chronic lung diseases like bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis, bacteria in your lungs can cause inflammation and bleeding that discolors your mucus dark brown.

It’s important to remember that yellow, green, or brown mucus may indicate bacterial or viral infections.

Red. A red or pinkish tint can indicate a little harmless blood, caused, for example, by frequent nose blowing or something irritating your nasal mucosa. In some cases, „red mucus – or bloody scab – can be due to blood from nosebleeds or bleeding from a polyp or even a tumor,“ says Yanagisawa.

Black. You may be inhaling deposits clumping in your nose. Also, a lot of dust or cigarette smoke can darken the mucus. Rarely, it can also be a sign of a fungal infection. If you have a weakened immune system, contact your doctor.

„For children, there are a variety of nasal suction devices that can safely and effectively remove nasal secretions and mucus,“ notes Yanagisawa.

Nose, sinus, or throat infections. These typically result in green or yellow mucus. „This is best treated with antibiotics if bacteria are the culprit,“ he says.

If the mucus is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), medications like a histamine-2 receptor blocker such as famotidine are the best treatment. A proton pump inhibitor like omeprazole can also work. Also, avoiding certain foods, including chocolate, spicy foods, citrus fruits, and caffeinated or red wine beverages can be helpful.

Mucus Management

„Mucus is normal and crucial for the smooth functioning of our airways,“ says Yanagisawa.

To keep things running smoothly:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay well-hydrated.
  • Use saline nasal sprays or rinses to maintain moisture.
  • Try using a humidifier and steam in colder weather.
  • Flush out excess mucus and nasal secretions with a nasal and sinus irrigation device like a neti pot.

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