Medical Mucus in the nose and sinuses

  • Thread starter fileen
  • Start date
63
4
Ok, this is not necessarily a pleasant topic, but I need to know:
where does ALL that snot come from when we get a cold? Im currently suffering one, and I feel like I could fill a bath tub with the amount of boogies that have come out of my nose. Where does it all come from? And it just keeps coming! I feel like Ive finally cleared my sinuses and not a moment later Im back to the sneezes. If my body just keeps on making all this snot, where is it doing so, and why? Also, whats it made of?
 
666
6
Liquified brains. Stop blowing!!
 

wolram

Gold Member
4,234
553
Ok, this is not necessarily a pleasant topic, but I need to know:
where does ALL that snot come from when we get a cold? Im currently suffering one, and I feel like I could fill a bath tub with the amount of boogies that have come out of my nose. Where does it all come from? And it just keeps coming! I feel like Ive finally cleared my sinuses and not a moment later Im back to the sneezes. If my body just keeps on making all this snot, where is it doing so, and why? Also, whats it made of?

It is all your mucous membranes and lungs liquefying, plus all the dead germs.
 

lisab

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
Ok, this is not necessarily a pleasant topic, but I need to know:
where does ALL that snot come from when we get a cold? Im currently suffering one, and I feel like I could fill a bath tub with the amount of boogies that have come out of my nose. Where does it all come from? And it just keeps coming! I feel like Ive finally cleared my sinuses and not a moment later Im back to the sneezes. If my body just keeps on making all this snot, where is it doing so, and why? Also, whats it made of?
I've often wondered this myself. One cold I had, I swear every two hours I was producing the same volume as my little head, filling up Kleenexes!

Sudafed works great, BTW, and it doesn't make you drowsy.
 
63
4
It is all your mucous membranes and lungs liquefying, plus all the dead germs.
My lungs? Wouldnt that make me dead?
 
63
4
codeine suppresses a cough, so I keep taking that (otherwise my head explodes) but Im hesitant to take anything with it
 
63
4
Id really like to know where the stuff is made, why and what of though, maybe I should try posting this question in the "Biology area"?
 

lisab

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
I'm pretty sure it is secreted from the mucous membranes that line your nose (and I think the nasal cavity).
 
63
4
that makes sense, but then why does it keep making more even when it feels like its soooo full and has to sneeze and sneeze to get it out?
 

lisab

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
You got me there. It does seem like overkill, doesn't it?

Hope you feel better soon!
 
1,120
7
You make about a quart of snot daily, if your healthy. If you have a cold it can jump to 2 quarts.
Basically, snot is a mixture of water and the particles that it and the cilia filter out. It also includes shed epithelial cells, dead leukocytes, dead bacteria and their products, mucin, and inorganic salts.
 
63
4
cool! so if its full of dead leukocytes etc, is it safe to assume that my body is trying to flush out whatever irritating virus I have picked up?
 
854
16
This is sketchy, an expert should criticize it.

The cells in your nose react to cold germs by creating histamine. Histamine reduces the irritation due to the germs but also triggers mucus production. Histamine is also what makes the inside of your nasal passage feel stuffed. Your body also produces histamine around a mosquito bite and that's what makes the puffy bump. Antihistamine reduces the histamine and the mucus production, i.e. the symptoms of a cold, but in my opinion it interferes with your body's program for fighting the cold.
 

DaveC426913

Gold Member
18,320
1,913
This is sketchy, an expert should criticize it.

The cells in your nose react to cold germs by creating histamine. Histamine reduces the irritation due to the germs but also triggers mucus production. Histamine is also what makes the inside of your nasal passage feel stuffed.
Yes, in addition to the mucous, your tissues are swelling with fluid, which contributes to the stuffiness.

Your body also produces histamine around a mosquito bite and that's what makes the puffy bump. Antihistamine reduces the histamine and the mucus production, i.e. the symptoms of a cold, but in my opinion it interferes with your body's program for fighting the cold.
Well, the body sort of overreacts. All that mucous is not really doing a lot of extra good. And, arguably, it is interfering with the one thing that will help you get better: resting and a good solid sleep.
 

Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,349
51
Here's a nice illustration of how extensive your sinuses are. http://www.ghorayeb.com/AnatomySinuses.html

The ones that often are the site of sinus infections and that horrid stuffy feeling is the maxillary sinus (the one that's tucked behind your cheekbone). It has this wonderfully constructed anatomy where the opening of the sinus that allows it to drain is fairly close to the TOP of the sinus cavity, which means it is really hard to get anything out once it gets in. That's why the only way to get stuff out of them during a sinus infection (short of medical intervention) is to lie on your side trying to basically tilt your head to drain one side, then turn over and drain the other side, etc.

Those turbinates (or concha) in the pictures are big tubes that fill up with mucus too.
 

Tsu

Gold Member
353
63
from Wiki:

Mucus is produced by goblet cells in the mucous membranes that cover the surfaces of the membranes. It is made up of mucins and inorganic salts suspended in water. Phlegm is a type of mucus that is restricted to the respiratory tract, while the term mucus refers to secretions of the nasal passages as well.
 
63
4
this is great guys, thanks. The sinus anatomy is really neat. I have a huge text on anatomy but it doesnt go into sinuses. Im curious how antihistamines can keep me from recovering? As it is Im not taking anything for it. I was taking 222's with codeine when my cough was bad, but thats not a problem any more.
 

Evo

Mentor
22,874
2,349
this is great guys, thanks. The sinus anatomy is really neat. I have a huge text on anatomy but it doesnt go into sinuses. Im curious how antihistamines can keep me from recovering? As it is Im not taking anything for it. I was taking 222's with codeine when my cough was bad, but thats not a problem any more.
I take antihistamines and decongestants. They help me greatly.
 
Last edited:

DaveC426913

Gold Member
18,320
1,913

Tsu

Gold Member
353
63
Why are the Eustacian tubes up in the nasal cavity? I thought the Eustacian tubes were those pockets behind your molars.
They aren't in the nasal cavity. They connect the middle ear with the pharynx - they just didn't mark the image showing the pharynx. They help to drain excess fluid from the ear into the throat... which is why you sometimes have a sore throat when you have an earache.
 

Tsu

Gold Member
353
63
Oops. Sorry. They DID label it. It's called the NASOpharynx in that image.
 

Andy Resnick

Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
7,297
1,701
It's funny how some topics elicit a large response.

Mucus, as pointed out earlier, originates in the airway and nasal cavities, is composed primarily of long glycoproteins (MUC proteins) and water in addition to lots of small signalling molecules (ATP, cytokines) and ions (a lot of sodium and chloride). The mucus is regulated by the body- a symptom of cystic fibrosis is dehydrated mucus due to faulty ion transport.

The function of mucus is protective- the lungs must remain sterile in the face of inhaled contaminants- bacteria, mold spores, virii, particulate matter, yeast, etc. The mucociliary system serves to transport the junk out of the lung. Some bacteria (pseudomonas) thrive in the dehydrated mucus, leading the chronic lung infection- this is usually what kills the CF patients.

The mucus is secreted and transported by the motile cilia covering the airway and nasal cavity. Here's where it gets interesting: the mucus layer (in normal situations) is a constant thickness. Since the surface area of the lung decreases as you move up and out, the mucus must get absorbed, or components must get absorbed to decrease the volume. It's not clear how the mucus layer is maintained at a constant thickness.

Lots of things can go wrong with this system- excess secretion, improper transport, decreased resorption. That, coupled with inflammation of the epithelial layer (from the cytokines that are secreted into the mucus), can cause additonal problems.

A rule of thumb- if your mucus is cloudy, you have a bacterial infection. If it's clear, you have a viral infection. This is based on the size of the bug (light scattering).
 

Related Threads for: Mucus in the nose and sinuses

  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
2K
Replies
5
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
14
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
18
Views
24K

Hot Threads

Top