Let's Talk Mucus: Maybe it's Time to Show it Some Love

By Tiffany Windsor & Candace Liccione

Source: Click to read the FABULOUS and INFORMATIVE full article written by Sarah Kaplan - Washington Post

Mucus: Maybe it’s time to show it some love!

As kids, whenever we showed signs of a stuffy nose or worse…a snotty nose, our Momma Aleene always got out the steamer (hot humidifier) and we would sit underneath a towel for what seemed like hours! This ALWAYS worked to dislodge stuck mucus and send us on our track to healing. Our Momma learned about this technique when our sister Heidi got hospitalized for pneumonia when she was 2 years old. Momma relied on this method for all five children and always with the desired results! We never stopped to think how our bodies were working to protect us and just thought it was a really icky thing to blow our noses of all that mucus-y grossness.

As Sarah Kaplan writes, “Pause for a moment before blaming mucus for your troubles. Mucus is full of antiseptic enzymes that protect the lining of your sinuses while flushing out potentially dangerous invaders. It is perfectly adapted for trapping microbes. It is a hero of your immune system. On the front lines of the daily fight to keep you healthy, mucus is on your side.”

Mucus is so much more than the slimy stuff seeping from our nasal cavities. In humans, mucus serves all kinds of useful purposes.
— Sarah Kaplan

Did you know that mucus actually protects the lining of your stomach from getting corroded by acid. It acts as a lubricant in your esophagus by helping food pass down smoothly.

But your nose is where mucus really shines. It filters the air you breathe, trapping dust particles, bacteria and other bad things. It is the initial defensive system of your body. Doctors estimate that the nose produces about 4 cups of mucus a day. [Ok, we had NO idea about this fact!!]

The nose’s mucus contains mucin, a lubricating protein that helps prevent bacteria from clumping together, and other particles. Its strands form a mesh, with small pores capable of trapping most bacteria, allergens and pollutants. Only the smallest viruses can slip through.

Have you ever wondered what all those different mucus colors mean? Its color – green, white, yellow, orange or brown – comes from the dead cells stuck in it. The lighter colors come from white blood cells, which fight infection (though contrary to popular belief, green mucus is not necessarily evidence you should be on antibiotics). Orange or brown mucus is stained by dried up blood – an indication that the nose tissue is inflamed.

Nasal mucus has two elements: a thin fluid layer on the bottom called sol and a thick sticky layer evolved to trap invaders called gel. When microscopic tentacles on the surface of your nasal passage, called cilia, beat against the sol, it and the gel layer on top are flushed out of the nose. If you find yourself coughing and sneezing a lot when you are sick, a virus may have done damage to your cilia, forcing the body to find other ways to get rid of mucus.

The vast majority of mucus does not fly out of your nose or mouth. Instead, your cilia push it to the back of your nose and throat, where it is swallowed. OK - we’re grossed out but we’re told we shouldn’t be! Your stomach is well equipped to neutralize any infectious agents that might wind up in your stomach. Mucus is probably a lot more sanitary than some things you eat. Scientists at MIT have even proposed coating medical lab equipment with mucin because of its incredible antibacterial powers. [Yeah, ummmm, no. Just no.}

So now you will have a different idea about mucus and how it works in your body and how good it is for you.

We never thought we would be saying this but…Thank you mucus!


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