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What Are Common Causes of Thick Mucus?

Thick mucus often indicates the presence of an infection in the body.
Dairy products can also increase the thickness of a person's mucus.
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  • Written By: C. Stoliecki
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2014
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Mucus in the human body serves many vital functions. Most importantly, mucus protects the body from harmful substances by acting as a barrier and by facilitating the removal of such substances. The presence of thick mucus is often an indication that the body is fighting infection, trying to rid the body of harmful substances or responding to the ingestion of certain foods.

For animals in the vertebrate phylum, mucus is produced by mucous membranes that are located in various places within the body of the animal. In humans, mucous membranes are located on cavities of the body that come into contact with the outside world. These include the nostrils, mouth, ears and genitals.

Mucus is made of water, carbohydrates, proteins, cells and salt, and it serves many important functions for the human body. Mucus protects organs by acting as a barrier that prevents any foreign matter from making its way into the body. For example, mucus in the nasal cavity traps allergens and dust particles before they can make their way into the lungs. This helps prevent humans from inflammation or infection that can be caused by common irritants such as smoke, mold and many bacteria and viruses.

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In carrying out its protective function, mucus also removes harmful particles. Thus, when the mucous membranes come into contact with an infectious agent such as a bacteria or virus, they begin to increase mucus production to increase the efficiency of removal. This results in the production of thick mucus. For instance, when the nose is infected with the common cold virus, the nasal and sinus membranes increase the production of mucus in order to remove the virus from the body, thus resulting in the thick nasal mucus commonly experienced during a cold.

The same phenomena takes place when the body comes into contact with an allergen. For many people who suffer from allergies, the presence of the trigger allergen on their mucus membranes causes an increase in the production of mucus, resulting in thick mucus meant to eradicate the pollutant from the body. Increased mucus production can occur in any part of the body that has mucous membranes and comes into contact with an allergen.

In some people, thick mucus can be the result of a food sensitivity or allergy. This is often the case with dairy products. Many times, the fat in dairy products increases the viscosity of mucus, and some people notice an increased amount of thick mucus in their nasal passages and lungs shortly after consuming these foods.

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Discuss this Article

anon346602
Post 7

I stopped eating anything with yeast and had yeast withdrawal for weeks. Salty, foamy, phlegm started coming out. It took a few weeks to detox. I have never gotten sick again after that. Everything has yeast in it: ramen noodles, white crackers. mac and cheese, most bread, even my favorite fish sticks. I had to learn how to make bread without it.

anon311059
Post 6

My nose is always closed and I can't breathe from it, and when I push trying to open it, yellow mucus comes out of it. I've contacted my doctor and did surgery on me as I have sinus problem. I got relief for about six months, then the same issue came back.

My doc told me to use a diprofose injection three times per year as each injection gives me a period of four to six months of relief.

So what can I do now? What is the solution? Am I going to spend all my life taking diprofose?

anon299631
Post 5

Try a good quality Tea Tree oil on your chest, sinus (brow, cheek, nose and throat)three times a day for four or five days (not to be used internally). It will make a huge difference. Drink Breathe Easy Tea and take Echinacea tea or pills.

kylee07drg
Post 4

Yeast infections can cause a thick mucus discharge. Every time I've ever had one, I have noticed a white, lumpy mucus in my underwear.

Of course, the first sign that I have a yeast infection is the unbearable itching. When I scratch the area, this leads to burning.

I can feel the mucus up inside of me, and it is disturbing. When it is moving out of my body, I feel like I am giving birth to something wet and tiny.

The mucus is both inside and out, and the itching seems to extend up its path. It is so frustrating, because I want to be able to remove all of it, but it is constantly being produced.

cloudel
Post 3

The clear, thick mucus that comes with a cold is the worst! I had a cold last winter that kept me at home for days because of the excessive mucus production.

It kept dripping out of my nose. I had to plug my nostrils with tissue, and even then, I had to change out the tissue every fifteen minutes, because it had become saturated!

I blew the mucus out of my nose for as long as I could, but it eventually got to the point where my sinuses had swollen so much that none could pass through. I just had to wait out the sickness.

seag47
Post 2

@Perdido – Allergies make me have thick mucus in my throat, but it is clear rather than yellow. This is how I know it is caused by allergies rather than an infection.

I have post-nasal drip, so my throat is constantly in contact with mucus dripping down from my nose. During the day, it doesn't bother me so much, but at night, it can nearly choke me when I'm lying down.

Every morning when I get up, I cough up mucus for about an hour. It seeped down into my chest during the night, and my body is trying to get rid of it.

I've tried various antihistamines, but their power is limited. I'm sure that my condition would be worse if I took nothing for it, though.

Perdido
Post 1

I suffer from allergies, and because my sinuses stay irritated for so long, I often get sinus infections. When this happens, I get a thick yellow mucus.

I have to keep blowing my nose to get the stuff out. It is bright yellow, and there is much more of it than is normally present.

If the infection travels to my chest, then I will start coughing up this thick mucus. It is also bright yellow, and the coughing is so persistent that it eventually becomes constant and uncontrollable.

When this occurs, my only option is to go to my doctor and get antibiotics. Sinus infections are very hard for our bodies to defeat on their own.

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