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Excess Mucus Production

Excess Mucus Production

March 4, 2024
Excess Mucus Production

Mucus is a natural and required substance produced by the body to protect the linings of the respiratory and digestive tracts. However, excessive mucus production can indicate a problem, causing discomfort and possibly health consequences.

What causes excess mucus production?

The following are some common causes of increased mucus production:

  1. Chronic bronchitis: This is a long-term inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which leads to increased mucus production.
  2. Allergies: Allergens such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander can cause increased mucus production in the nasal passages. The body strives to remove these chemicals by producing additional mucus to cough up.
  3. Infection: Cold, flu and other viral infections can cause increased mucus production. Bronchitis and pneumonia can cause increased mucus production.
  4. Asthma: This condition is characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. This can lead to increased mucus production.
  5. COPD: This is a progressive lung disease. Some individuals with COPD produce more mucus. This is because they have a higher number of goblet cells than people without COPD. They may also have enlarged mucus glands in their airways. This overproduction causes a persistent cough. Unfortunately, COPD patients may have trouble removing excess mucus. They may have an ineffective cough or other symptoms related to their disease.
  6. Cystic fibrosis: This is a genetic disorder that affects the exocrine glands. It is characterized by the development of sticky, and thick mucus. It affects the lungs and other organs such as the pancreas. The sticky mucus makes it extremely difficult to clean the airways to breathe.
  7. Smoking: Smoking is the leading cause of chronic excess mucus production, as is cigarette smoke exposure. Cigarette smokers may have both chronic bronchitis and reduced airflow. 

What are the risk factors for excess mucus production?

The following are some risk factors for increased mucus production:

  • Smoking: Smoking damages the cilia, which are tiny hair-like structures that help to clear mucus from the lungs.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to pollutants, dust, and fumes can increase the risk of increased mucus production.
  • Allergies: People with allergies are more likely to experience increased mucus production.
  • Age: The risk of increased mucus production increases with age.
  • Genetics: Certain genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, can increase the risk of increased mucus production.

What are the symptoms of excess mucus production?

The following are some common symptoms of increased mucus production:

  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest congestion
  • Throat clearing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body ache

How is excess mucus production treated?

The goal of treatment is to reduce mucus production and facilitate its removal from the airways. Quitting smoking can significantly ease coughing. It is particularly effective for chronic bronchitis and COPD.

Several over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help alleviate mucus buildup, including:

  • Decongestants
  • Expectorants

For those preferring natural remedies, consider these at-home solutions:

  • Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to your shower floor to inhale its vapors while showering.
  • Use a humidifier at night to moisten the air.
  • Take honey as an anti-inflammatory cough suppressant.

Your doctor may prescribe medications if excess mucus production is chronic like bronchitis. This includes:

  • Inhalers to reduce airway inflammation and enhance airflow.
  • Prednisone, an oral corticosteroid, is commonly prescribed for chronic bronchitis. 

Physical Treatments Physical therapies can aid in managing excess mucus. These may include: 

  • Use of airway clearance devices 
  • Chest physical therapy

While mucus serves as a protective mechanism in the body, excessive production can signal underlying health issues and lead to discomfort. Causes range from chronic conditions like bronchitis and allergies to infections and smoking. 

It’s essential to address excess mucus production promptly to prevent discomfort. Consulting a doctor is crucial for chronic cases to prevent complications.

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