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What Is Nasal Mucous?

Mucus protects the nose and the body from foreign substances.
A runny nose occurs when mucus production in the nasal membrances increases.
Excess nasal mucous may be caused by allergies.
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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
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Nasal mucous is produced by the body's respiratory system and protects the nasal passages from becoming too dry. Mucous also helps to protect the body from microscopic invaders, such as bacteria. Its presence in the nasal passages also helps to keep dust and dirt from invading the body.

Mucous membranes are responsible for producing nasal mucous. These membranes are designed to protect the portions of the body where there is an opening, such as the mouth, nose, ears, and digestive tract. Special cells in the mucous membrane are responsible for producing this substance.

Most people would say that having a runny nose is not a very pleasant experience. The increased volume of nasal mucous is the body's way of trying to stay healthy by getting rid of the substance that is causing irritation. Unfortunately for the person who is unable to get a good night's sleep due to nasal congestion or nasal drip, the body sometimes produces too much mucous.

When excess nasal mucous is a problem, using an antihistamine medication can help to dry up the nose. These types of drugs work by blocking the body's histamine producers, which are responsible for giving the mucous membranes the signal to go into overdrive. In a situation where someone can't get or chooses not to use an antihistamine, there are other ways to treat a problem of having too much nasal mucous.

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During colder months when doors and windows are kept closed in homes and building, the air can get very dry. Using a humidifier to add some moisture to the air means the nasal mucous becomes thinner and more runny. This type of nasal drip may be uncomfortable, but thinner mucous is easier to get rid of by wiping or blowing the nose. Some people find the steam from taking a hot shower helps to get the mucous moving and makes them feel better.

Another condition that is quite common involving mucous and the respiratory system is sinusitis. This condition occurs when the hollow spaces in the cheekbones and around the eyes become irritated due to failure to drain properly. Sinusitis has some symptoms similar to those of a cold, such as a stuffy nose and the presence of yellow nasal mucous. Pain in the facial area, a fever and dizziness are signs of sinusitis and an indication that the affected individual should see a doctor.

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