October doesn’t just bring the spooky season with it- the flu season is in its full swing by the time we step into this festive month. The production of mucus in throat accompanies this season as one of the symptoms. Mucus production is a characteristic of the respiratory system to trap the germs and expel them.
The following sections will dive deeper into the causes, mechanism and treatment of mucus in the throat. The basics of its production and the common causes you may recognize.
What Is Mucus?
Mucus production is a natural process that is a response to the entry of germs or irritants inside the respiratory system. The body is a clever biological machine that can protect itself against most threats- from environmental pollutants to harmful microorganisms.
Similarly, the threat of irritants such as dust, pollutants, germs, bugs or tiny insects is also handled pretty well. This mechanism is the production of mucus.
Mucus is a secretion of goblet cells that contains mucin, water and antimicrobial particles. These help get rid of particles, reduce the chance of infections, thereby protecting the tissues. The mucus in throat is a result of secretion by glands present there and the nose. These can produce at least 1-2 quarts or 2 cups of mucus- get this- EVERY DAY!
That’s a lot of mucus. You are not alone if you had this thought, too. However, it is possible for the body to produce even more mucus. This overproduction of mucus is a concern from the medical point of view.
The overproduction of mucus may result in irritation, coughing, as well as difficulty breathing. Additionally, the cause of the excess mucus production helps doctors in determining the treatment option.
Why Is Mucus Produced?
The cause of mucus production is primarily one- entry of an irritant that needs to be expelled. However, the overproduction of this secretion can be an indication of something serious. This can include the following-
Allergies are a common cause of phlegm that can lead to discomfort and may even lead to coughing. The allergies may have triggers such as pollen, or food. Usually, during the flu season, allergies are also seen to increase.
- Cold Air
Cold air irritates the throat and causes an overproduction of mucus.
- Upper Respiratory Infection
During the flu season, the immunity is low, which makes us prone to more infections. Upper respiratory infections are also a common occurrence during this time. This leads to the production of mucus.
- Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis can lead to production of mucus in the lung which can pool in the throat.
- Neuromuscular Disease
The impairment of a person’s cough reflex can cause mucus to accumulate.
- Acid Reflux
Acid reflux irritates the lining of the throat which increases the production of mucus.
How To Get Rid Of Mucus In Throat?
Once the physician is able to identify the cause of the mucus production, it becomes easy for them to design a treatment plan. They are able to prescribe the appropriate medication so that the excess production is under control.
Following are the possible pharmacological alternatives:
These help in drying the excess mucus, however it may become difficult to expel the mucus.
These drugs thin the mucus which facilitates its expulsion. The process of getting mucus out of the throat becomes much easier with the help of mucolytics. Moreover, this drug is available as both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) forms.
Mucolytics can include hypertonic saline, dornase alfa and N-acetylcysteine- this is usually preferred in chronic lung issues.
OTC drugs also help in getting the mucus out of the throat. The expulsion of mucus is what these medications focus on.
When To Consult A Doctor?
If you notice blood in mucus from your throat, it can be concerning. This is when you should reach out to your physician. If you notice the mucus is becoming thicker, then you should consult your physician.
Additionally, if you notice the following-
- Production of mucus has not ceased since four weeks
- You have developed a fever
- There is a shortness of breath
At-Home Remedies For Mucus
- Air Humidifier
Humidifying the air helps in keeping the mucus thin, thus easier to expel.
- Gargling With Salt Water
Salt water gargling is helpful in clearing the mucus from the back of your throat.
- Ensure Proper Hydration
Proper hydration can ensure that the congestion loosens and the mucus flows easily.
- Avoid Self-Medicating
Self-medication for any ailment is discouraged due to the several negative implications. However, especially for excess mucus secretion, it is best to avoid self-medication. This is because OTC medications such as decongestants when not required- can lead to difficulty in removing the mucus.
- Stay Away From Irritants, And Chemicals
Staying away from irritants can ensure that your mucus membrane is healing properly. The use of irritants such as perfumes can signal the body to produce more mucus.
- Quit Smoking
Smoking can lead to irritation of the mucus membrane, while also exacerbating the underlying conditions that could be causing mucus production.
- Elevate Your Head
Elevating your head can help the mucus collect at the back of your throat. Lying flat on your back for a few minutes can help facilitate the expulsion of mucus.
- Improve Intake Of Certain Foods
The intake of fiber-rich fruits such as apples, garlic, radish- which also have antimicrobial properties, can help in reducing the discomfort. In addition, the consumption of such food facilitates the reduction of mucus. Phlegm production can worsen with the consumption of dairy or high fat food.
The production of mucus is a normal phenomena. An underlying condition or the presence of irritants can lead to an overproduction of mucus in your body. This could be an indication of a minor illness. An excess of mucus may be a sign of a more serious issue which requires the attention of a doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Regular mucus production is normal. The body gets rid of pollutants, which empties the mucus from the nasal and throat passages. It also indicates there may be an infection or another condition.
It does not necessarily mean that you may have something serious. Normally, the mucous membrane secretes at least 2 cups of mucus. If you think there is something that requires doctor’s attention, seek medical help.
The difference between mucus and mucous is related to English grammar- the former is a noun, whereas the latter is an adjective.