We get it, talking about snot is not something most people want to do, but this often leaves many common questions unanswered and a lot of misinformation floating around. So, as gross as it can be, let’s talk about mucus!
Why do we even produce mucus?
The short answer: to protect certain tissues inside of you from drying out. The tissues that line the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract need to be kept moist, otherwise they would dry out and crack. The way they keep moist is by producing mucus. Another important function of mucus is to trap unwanted or potentially dangerous substances before they can get farther into the body. Mucus contains antibodies that kill bacteria and viruses.
Why do I feel like I have to blow my nose?
Most of the time, the excess mucus that we normally produce is disposed of by just trickling down our throat passage without us even noticing it. However, there are times when we do notice our mucus and it makes us want to blow our nose or clear our throat. This is generally not because we are producing more mucus than normal, but because the consistency of our mucus has changed. Mucus usually gets thicker as a result of a dry environment, not drinking enough fluids, or using medications that have drying side effects.
Why do I sometimes produce more mucus?
In a normal day, your body can produce about 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus. However, this amount can go up when you have a bad cold, allergies, or come in contact with something irritating, like spicy food. This is one of your body’s responses to try to protect itself from dangerous agents.
Why does my mucus change color?
Most of us have heard that if you are producing green or yellow mucus, you must have an infection. This is actually a misconception; you can have perfectly clear mucus and still have an infection. The reason your mucus might be yellow or green is because it may contain a large concentration of white blood cells, which have a green-ish tint. Your mucus can also have a red or brown tint if your nose is bleeding because it is dry or irritated. If you suffer from allergies or chronic sinus problems, you might be sick and tired of dealing with an overproduction of mucus and having to constantly blow your nose. While decongestants and antihistamines might offer temporary solutions for this problem, you should visit an ENT in order to treat and eliminate the root of the problem.