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The Underrated Importance of Mucus in Human’s Health

by Gab Billones


When your nose and throat begin to feel slimy, irritated and itchy, you’re sick. But being sick isn’t the only thing that bothers us the most. What I’m talking about is we feel sicker on the thought of having these sticky goo in our system rather than the fact that we have a cold, a fever, and other related things.


We all think that mucus is nothing more than a dirty by-product of our sneeze or the thick sticky goo that comes with cough. As a result, we tend to expel everything out thinking that we’ll get better if we do. Sure, it can be a bit gross to blow globs of snot into our tissue and hankies but mucus actually serves a very important purpose.

According to Michael M. Johns III, M.D., director of the Emory Voice Center and an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology in Emory University, mucus is incredibly important for our bodies. It serves as the oil in the engine (which is our body) and without it, the engine seizes.

Mucus-producing tissues line along the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. It acts as a protective agent against dryness that might affect the efficiency of these organs. These organs must be kept moist at all conditions, or else you might get a chink in its armor. In simple terms, mucus acts as a trap against foreign substances that threaten to disrupt our health condition. As a result, whenever we get sick, we tend to produce more mucus and is stickier since getting sick means that our organs don’t function the way it is supposed to be, so much so that excess mucus production tends to provide additional support to it.

Also, mucus isn’t just some sticky-goo protective layer. It also contains antibodies that help our body recognize the presence of unwanted foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. When these antibodies hook the invaders, certain enzymes kill those that were trapped. So, our mucus is indeed one of our body’s natural defense in order to protect our immune system.

Sometimes, we tend to classify our infections based on the color of the mucus we are producing. When we notice that the snot we blob into out tissues is colorless, we often regard it as just an irritation. But when it suddenly turns yellowish or even greenish, we then conclude that we have an infection. But the truth is, even if it’s colorless, infection could still be present. Our mucus tend to get yellowish or greenish when the immune system tends to send neutrophils rushing to the area, especially when you have a cold. These cells contains a greenish-colored enzyme, hence the color of your mucus.

The nature of mucus is indeed for the good of our body. But according to research, our mucus’ function doesn’t just do that. Based on the study conducted at IMIM in Barcelona, our intestinal mucus not only acts as a defense stronghold against commensal bacteria and dietary antigens, but it also prevents the onset of inflammatory reactions against these agents. Such fundamental property of mucus was unknown until now and with this new discovery, the advent on curing those who are suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases has commenced.

More and more importance about mucus is to be discovered in the near future. What else is there why such substance, even if we really hate it, is very much present in our body? Never think of it as the disease, in and of itself. Of course, you need to expel some of those when it somehow blocks our breathing, but at least, you now know its importance in our lives.


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