What Causes Excess Mucus?
WHAT CAUSES EXCESS MUCUS?
The coughing. The congestion. And just an overall feeling of being stuffed up. It’s all thanks to mucus. Most of us think of too much mucus as a problem only during cold and flu season, but there are many reasons excess mucus in your throat can be a year-round problem, too.
What is mucus?
Mucus is part of our body’s frontline defense against infection. It’s produced by the mucus membranes that line your mouth, nose, throat, sinuses, and lungs. Mucus works with your cilia ––the tiny hairlike structures that line your airways– to get rid of airborne particles. When you think about it, there’s actually a good side to mucus: It traps and prevents dust, allergens, bacteria, viruses, and other irritants from entering your system.
What are the symptoms of too much mucus?
When mucus becomes too thick, dense, or dry, it can build up in your airways—especially in your nose and sinuses. This keeps the cilia from doing their work of transporting unwanted particles out of your body. Your body tries to expel this buildup of mucus, mostly by coughing.
The resulting symptoms of too much mucus include:
- Overall chest congestion (take a look at our article on all things chest congestion)
- A chest cough, especially early in the morning
- A wet cough
- Frequent throat clearing
What causes too much mucus?
Excessive amounts of mucus in your throat includes some familiar causes, but also some not-so-obvious ones.
Colds, triggered by the viruses you come in contact with, are one of the main causes of an overproduction of mucus. Cold viruses spread from person to person and are transferred simply by touch or fluids such as saliva. Keep in mind, cold weather doesn’t directly cause colds: the rhinovirus, the most common virus to cause colds, simply spreads more easily at cooler temperatures.
Allergies can also tell your body to produce an overabundance of mucus. This mostly happens in spring, a.k.a. allergy season, when airborne pollens trigger allergic reactions. However, other allergies, such as dust mites, are can be a cause of excess mucus throughout the whole year.
In addition to allergens, indoor pollutants such as cigarette smoke, pet fur, mold, and some household chemicals can cause mucus buildup. Environmental pollutants can trigger mucus overproduction as well—this includes car exhaust, wood smoke, or any industrial smoke.
How to get rid of too much mucus
So, what can you do? The best way to help relieve excess mucus in the throat is to take an expectorant. Medicines containing guaifenesin, an expectorant, help thin and loosen that excess mucus in your throat. These medicines get mucus moving again, making coughs more effective. Various Mucinex® products such as the Mucinex® Extended-Release Bi-Layer Tablets can help treat excess mucus. The medicine lasts for 12 hours. And for kids ages 4 to 12, there is Mucinex® Children’s.
Some mucus is good for your body, but too much of it isn’t. That’s why there’s Mucinex®.