Mucus



Mucus is a slippery secretion of the lining of the mucous membranes in the body. It is a viscous colloid containing antiseptic enzymes (such as lysozyme) and immunoglobulins. 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.

Functions

Mucus serves many different functions within the processes in an animal's body:

Respiratory system

In the respiratory system, mucus traps particles such as bacteria and dust, helping to prevent them from entering the body; this occurs especially in the nose. Mucus aids in the protection of the lungs by trapping foreign particles that enter the nose during normal breathing. Additionally, it prevents tissues from drying out. Increased mucus production in the respiratory tract is a symptom of many common illnesses, such as the common cold. The presence of mucus in the nose and throat is normal, but increased quantities can impede comfortable breathing and must be cleared by blowing the nose or expectorating phlegm from the throat. Among the components of nasal mucus are tears.

Dried nasal mucus (vulgarly or colloquially called "snot", "booger(s)", "boogie(s)" (US) or "bogey" (UK)) is partially solidified mucus from the nose. Dried nasal mucus forms when the mucus traps dust and other particles in the air. Mucus dries around the particle and hardens, somewhat like a pearl forming in an oyster. Since catching foreign particles is one of the main functions of nasal mucus, the presence of dried nasal mucus is a good indicator of a properly functioning nose.

Mucin

Mucus is produced by submucosal cells as well as goblet cells in the respiratory system. It consists of mucin, a highly glycosylated peptide. Upon stimulation, MARPKs (myrastine-alanine rich protein kinases) signal the binding of mucin filled vesicles to the plasma membrane. The fusion of the vesicles causes the release of the mucin, which as it exchanges Ca2+ for Na+ expands up to 600 fold. The result is a viscoelastic product of interwoven molecules called mucus.

Digestive system

In the digestive system, mucus is used as a lubricant for materials which must pass over membranes, e.g., food passing down the esophagus. A layer of mucus along the inner walls of the stomach is vital to protect the cell linings of that organ from the highly acidic environment within it.

Reproductive system

In the female reproductive system, cervical mucus prevents infection and helps the movement of the penis during sexual intercourse. When thin, cervical mucus helps the movement of spermatozoa. The consistency of cervical mucus varies depending on the stage of a woman's menstrual cycle. At ovulation cervical mucus is clear, runny, and conducive to sperm; post-ovulation, mucus becomes thicker and is more likely to block sperm.

In the male reproductive system, the seminal vesicles located behind the bladder contribute up to 60% of the total volume of the semen and contain mucus, amino acids, and fructose as the main energy source for the sperm.

Nasal mucus

Nasal mucus is mucus produced by the nasal mucosa. It serves to protect the respiratory tract and trap foreign objects such as dust and pollen before they enter the remainder of the respiratory tract. Nasal mucus is produced continually, and most of it is swallowed unconsciously.

Diseases involving mucus

Generally mucus is clear and thin, serving to filter air during inhalation. During times of infection, mucus can change color to yellow or green either as a result of trapped bacteria, or due to the body's reaction to viral infection.Such colored mucus or phlegm usually has an offensive putrid odor.

In the case of bacterial infection, the bacterium becomes trapped in already clogged sinuses, breeding in the moist, nutrient-rich environment. In this case, the clogged sinuses are a result of some other condition (such as allergies) and the bacterial infection is secondary to this original cause. When two different colors of common bacteria become mixed (such as yellow Staphylococcus aureus and blue Pseudomonas aeruginosa) the resulting shade is often green. Antibiotics may be used fruitfully to treat the secondary infection in these cases, but will generally not help with the original cause.

In the case of a viral infection such as cold or flu, the first stage of infection causes the production of a clear, thin mucus in the nose or back of the throat. As the body begins to react to the virus (generally one to three days), mucus thickens and may turn yellow or green. In these cases, antibiotics will not be useful, and are a major source of misuse. Treatment is generally symptom-based; the only cure is to allow the immune system to fight off the virus over time.

Cystic fibrosis

Main article: Cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that affects the entire body, but symptoms begin mostly in the lungs with excess production of mucus which is difficult to expel.

Cold weather and mucus

During cold weather, the cilia which normally sweep mucus away from the nostrils and towards the back of the throat (see respiratory epithelium) becomes sluggish or completely cease functioning. This results in mucus running down the nose and dripping (a runny nose). Mucus also thickens in cold weather; when an individual comes in from the cold, the mucus thaws and begins to run before the cilia begin to work again.

As a medical symptom

Increased mucus production in the respiratory tract is a symptom of many common diseases, such as the common cold. The presence of mucus in the nose and throat is normal, but increased quantities can hinder comfortable breathing and may be cleared by blowing the nose or expectorating excess mucus from the back of the throat. Nasal mucus may also be removed by using traditional methods of nasal irrigation. Excess mucus, as with a cold or allergies may be treated cautiously with decongestant drugs. Excess mucus in the bronchial tubes, as which occurs in asthma or bronchitis, may be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the mucus production. Thickening of mucus by decongestant drugs may produce problems of drainage and circumstances that promote infection. Mucus with any color other than clear or white is generally an indicator of an infection of the nasal mucosa or the paranasal sinus.

Dried mucus

Dried mucus forms when the mucus traps dust and other particles in the air and becomes desiccated. Mucus dries around the particle and hardens into a solid or semi-solid sticky object, resulting in the particle's eventual expulsion from the body. Since catching foreign particles is one of the main functions of nasal mucus, the presence of dried mucus formations is a good indicator of a properly functioning nose (as opposed to a "runny nose", which can indicate illness).

Rhinolith

Main article: Rhinolith
A rhinolith is sometimes mistaken for dried mucus but is actually a medical condition caused by salt deposition with the nasal cavity.

Slang terms

A "loogie" is a slang expression used in North America to refer to a mass of sputum that is ejected from the mouth after being expelled from the throat of a person with nasal congestion. The expression "hocking a loogie" refers to expelling the phlegm in an obviously noisy manner involving violent vibrations of the uvular, producing a low, guttural, rumbling sound. "Hock" (alternate spelling "hawk") is derived from the archaic word "hough," pronounced the same way, meaning to clear one's throat. The word "loogie" arose as early as 1970, and appears to be a conjunction of the older slang "lung-er" (meaning an expectoration or a tuberculosis patient) and the word "booger" or "boogie." This practice may have other names in other countries and within the medical community. In the UK, the mass can be referred to as a 'flob', a portmanteau of the phonetic pronunciation of phlegm and 'gob', a slang term for saliva.

A "snot rocket" is a slang term referencing the act of holding one nostril while forcefully exhaling through the other mucous filled nostril resulting in a "rocket"-like projection of mucus from the nose and sinuses. This is also known as a "dustman's flick", "air hanky", "shotgun booger", "farmer's blow", "nose gob" or "farmer's hanky" or more offensively as a "guinea hankerchief" and "dutch hanky."

Dried nasal mucus is often removed by nose-picking. The social taboos regarding nasal mucus have also led to a wide variety of slang terms for nasal mucus. These include "snot", or "snotter" (Scottish), for nasal mucus; and "boogers" (U.S.), "boogies" (U.S.), or "bogies" (UK) for dried nasal mucus.

See also

References

  1. American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company (2004). Retrieved on December 10, 2006.
  2. Ghorayeb, Bechara (October 21, 2006). Pictures of Rhinolith (Nasal Calculus). Retrieved on December 10, 2006.
  3. Article from the University of Arizona campus health services
  4. Everything2.com article on mucus color
The mucous membranes (or mucosae; singular: mucosa) are linings of mostly endodermal origin, covered in epithelium, and are involved in absorption and secretion. They line various body cavities that are exposed to the external environment and internal organs.
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A Colloid or colloidal dispersion is a type of heterogeneous mixture. A colloid consists of two separate phases: a dispersed and balls phase and a continuous phase. In a colloid, the dispersed phase is made of tiny particles or droplets that are distributed evenly throughout
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Antiseptics (Greek αντί, against, and σηπτικός, putrefactive) are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction.
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Lysozyme is a 14.4 kilodalton enzyme (EC 3.2.1.17 ) that damages bacterial cell walls by catalyzing hydrolysis of 1,4-beta-linkages between N-acetylmuramic acid and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine residues in a peptidoglycan and between N-acetyl-D-glucosamine residues in chitodextrins.
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Antibodies (also known as immunoglobulins) are proteins that are found in blood or other bodily fluids of vertebrates, and are used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects, such as bacteria and viruses.
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Goblet cells are glandular simple columnar epithelial cells whose sole function is to secrete mucus.

The majority of the cell's cytoplasm is occupied by mucinogen granules, except at the bottom.
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Mucins are a family of large, heavily glycosylated proteins. Although some mucins are membrane-bound due to the presence of a hydrophobic membrane-spanning domain that favors retention in the plasma membrane, the concentration here is on those mucins that are secreted on mucosal
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Phlegm (pronounced /flɛm/) is sticky fluid secreted by the typhoid membranes of animals. Its definition is limited to the mucus produced by the respiratory system, excluding that from the nasal passages, and particularly
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The nasal cavity (or nasal fossa) is a large air-filled space above and behind the nose in the middle of the face.

Function

The nasal cavity conditions the air to be received by the areas of the respiratory tract.
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lungs flank the heart and great vessels in the chest cavity.[1]]]

The lung is the essential respiration organ in air-breathing vertebrates, the most primitive being the lungfish.
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Acute nasopharyngitis
Classification & external resources

ICD-10 J 00.0
ICD-9 460

DiseasesDB 31088
MedlinePlus 000678
eMedicine med/2339  
MeSH D003139 Acute viral nasopharyngitis, or acute coryza
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nose is a protuberance in vertebrates that houses the nostrils, or nares, which admit and expel air for respiration in conjunction with the mouth.

In most humans, it also houses the nosehairs, which catch airborne particles and prevent them from reaching the lungs.
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In anatomy, the throat is the part of the neck anterior to the vertebral column. It consists of the pharynx and larynx. An important feature of the throat is the epiglottis, a flap which separates the oesophagus from the trachea and prevents inhalation of food or drink.
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Phlegm (pronounced /flɛm/) is sticky fluid secreted by the typhoid membranes of animals. Its definition is limited to the mucus produced by the respiratory system, excluding that from the nasal passages, and particularly
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Tears are a liquid produced by the body's process of lacrimation to clean and lubricate the eyes. The word lacrimation may also be used in a medical or literary sense to refer to crying. Strong emotions, such as sorrow or elation, may lead to crying.
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nose is a protuberance in vertebrates that houses the nostrils, or nares, which admit and expel air for respiration in conjunction with the mouth.

In most humans, it also houses the nosehairs, which catch airborne particles and prevent them from reaching the lungs.
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pearl is a hard, rounded object produced within the soft tissue (specifically the mantle) of a living shelled mollusk. The finest quality pearls have been highly valued as gemstones and objects of beauty for many centuries, and the word pearl has become a metaphor for something
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oyster is used for a number of different groups of bivalve mollusks, most of which live in marine or brackish water. The shell consists of two usually highly calcified valves which surround a soft body.
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Calcium (IPA: /ˈkalsiəm/) is the chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078.
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Sodium (IPA: /ˈsəʊdiəm/) is a chemical element which has the symbol Na (Latin: natrium), atomic number 11, atomic mass 22.9898 g/mol, common oxidation number +1.
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The esophagus (also spelled oesophagus/œsophagus, Greek οἰσοφάγος), or gullet
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In anatomy, the stomach is a bean-shaped hollow muscular organ of the gastrointestinal tract involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication. The word stomach is derived from the Latin stomachus, which derives from the Greek word
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Sexual intercourse or copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals.[1] The two entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails.
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A spermatozoon or spermatozoan (pl. spermatozoa), from the ancient Greek σπέρμα (seed) and ζῷον (living being) and more commonly known as a sperm cell
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Semen is an organic fluid (also known as seminal fluid) that usually contains spermatozoa. It is secreted by the gonads (sexual glands) and other sexual organs of male or hermaphroditic animals for fertilization of female ova. The process of discharge is called ejaculation.
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The mucous membranes (or mucosae; singular: mucosa) are linings of mostly endodermal origin, covered in epithelium, and are involved in absorption and secretion. They line various body cavities that are exposed to the external environment and internal organs.
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In humans the respiratory tract is the part of the anatomy that has to do with the process of respiration.

The respiratory tract is divided into 3 segments:
  • Upper respiratory tract: nose and nasal passages, paranasal sinuses, and throat or pharynx

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Bacteria

Phyla

Actinobacteria
Aquificae
Chlamydiae
Bacteroidetes/Chlorobi
Chloroflexi
Chrysiogenetes
Cyanobacteria
Deferribacteres
Deinococcus-Thermus
Dictyoglomi
Fibrobacteres/Acidobacteria
Firmicutes
Fusobacteria
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