Frequent complaints about an overabundance of mucus production are not uncommon at medical clinics. Phlegm, also known as mucus (In Hindi बलगम), can be quite bothersome. This thick, sticky, gel-like substance lines various parts of your respiratory system, including the nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs. While it becomes more noticeable when you’re unwell, it’s worth noting that your body continually produces mucus as it serves essential functions.
The primary role of mucus is to act as a protective barrier, trapping dust, allergens, and viruses in your airways to prevent them from infiltrating your body. Additionally, it contains antibodies and enzymes that combat bacteria and other infections. Surprisingly, your body generates approximately one liter of mucus every day, making it a crucial bodily secretion that helps lubricate your air passages and safeguard you against external allergens.
Continue reading to discover the factors responsible for excessive mucus production and effective methods to manage it.
Causes of Excessive Mucus Production
Several health conditions can lead to an overproduction of mucus. These include:
- Infections: Both viral and bacterial infections of the airways can trigger excess mucus production. It’s important to note that an infection typically results in clear and watery mucus. If the mucus becomes thicker, yellowish, and foul-smelling, it may indicate a secondary infection. This often occurs with acute bacterial sinusitis or bacterial pneumonia, causing inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs.
- Allergies: Allergies often manifest with increased mucus production due to gland stimulation. This secretion is typically watery and, at times, profuse.
- Asthma: In asthma, airways narrow and swell, leading to increased mucus production and breathing difficulties.
- Acid Reflux: Acid reflux occurs when stomach contents flow back into the esophagus, particularly when lying down.
- Smoking: Chronic smoking can irritate the lining of the nose, throat, and lungs, causing an escalation in mucus production.
- Highly Polluted Environment: Air pollutants can produce effects similar to smoking and contribute to increased mucus production.
Treatment and Home Remedies
While mucus is a vital component of your respiratory system, excessive mucus can be uncomfortable. Here are some ways to manage it:
- Avoid Allergens: The most straightforward and effective method is to steer clear of allergens and infections. Stay away from smoky and dusty environments, use air purifiers in your home if air quality is poor, and keep doors and windows closed to prevent dust from entering. Frequent washing of bed linens with hot water and sun drying helps eliminate dust mites, common allergens.
- Maintain Humidity: Using a humidifier, especially during winter, keeps your nasal passages moist and reduces allergy risks.
- Quit Smoking: Cigarette smoke contains harmful chemicals that can damage your delicate mucosal lining. Smoking indoors can also expose others to second hand smoke.
- Steam Inhalation: Inhaling steam before bedtime can clear airways of dust particles and pollutants.
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking lukewarm water throughout the day can help alleviate congestion and improve mucus flow.
When home remedies prove ineffective, consult a medical professional who may prescribe medications such as:
- Anti-Allergic Medications: Modern allergy medications are safe and non-drowsy.
- Decongestants: These medications provide relief from a blocked or stuffy nose and can be taken orally or as a nasal spray.
- Intranasal Medications: These may include steroids and intranasal antihistamines to alleviate allergy symptoms.
Remember, regardless of the cause, it is inadvisable to spit mucus in public areas. This not only is unsightly but also poses a risk of spreading infections, especially during the ongoing pandemic. The best practice is to gently blow your nose into a tissue and discard it promptly. Consult a doctor if you experience persistent phlegm-related discomfort or if it persists for a month or longer.