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Mucus

 

Definition:
Mucus is a slippery secretion produced by, and covering, mucous membranes. Mucous fluid is typically produced from mucous cells found in mucous glands. Mucous cells secrete products that are rich in glycoproteins and water. Mucous fluid may also originate from mixed glands, which contain both serous and mucous cells. It is a viscous colloid containing antiseptic enzymes (such as lysozyme), proteins such as lactoferrin, glycoproteins known as mucins that are produced by goblet cells in the mucous membranes and submucosal glands, immunoglobulins, and inorganic salts. This mucus serves to protect epithelial cells in the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital, visual, and auditory systems in mammals; the epidermis in amphibians; and the gills in fish. A major function of this mucus is to protect against infectious agents such as fungi, bacteria and viruses. The average human body produces about a litre of mucus per day.

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Bony fish, hagfish, snails, slugs and some other invertebrates also produce external mucus. In addition to serving a protective function against infectious agents, such mucus provides protection against toxins produced by predators, can facilitate movement and may play a role in communication.

In the respiratory system mucus aids in the protection of the lungs by trapping foreign particles that enter it, particularly through the nose, during normal breathing. “Phlegm” is a specialized term for mucus that is restricted to the respiratory tract, while the term “mucus” more globally describes secretions of the nasal passages.

Nasal mucus is produced by the nasal mucosa, and mucal tissues lining the airways (trachea, bronchus, bronchioles) is produced by specialized airway epithelial cells (goblet cells) and submucosal glands. Small particles such as dust, particulate pollutants, and allergens as well as infectious agents such as bacteria are caught in the viscous nasal or airway mucus and prevented from entering the system. This event along with the continual movement of the respiratory mucus layer toward the oropharynx, helps prevent foreign objects from entering the lungs during breathing. Additionally, mucus aids in moisturizing the inhaled air and prevents tissues such as the nasal and airway epithelia from drying out. Nasal and airway mucus is produced constitutively, with most of it swallowed unconsciously, even when it is dried.

Increased mucus production in the respiratory tract is a symptom of many common illnesses, such as the common cold and influenza. Similarly, hypersecretion of mucus can occur in inflammatory respiratory diseases such as respiratory allergies, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. 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. Tears are also a component of nasal mucus.

Diseases involving mucus:-
Generally nasal mucus is clear and thin, serving to filter air during inhalation. During times of infection, mucus can change colour to yellow or green either as a result of trapped bacteria, or due to the body’s reaction to viral infection.

In the case of bacterial infection, the bacterium becomes trapped in already clogged sinuses, breeding in the moist, nutrient-rich environment. Antibiotics may be used 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 and also the last stage of the 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 viral infections, antibiotics will not be useful, and are a major avenue for misuse. Treatment is generally symptom-based; often it is sufficient to allow the immune system to fight off the virus over time.

Cystic fibrosis:.CLICK & SEE
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that affects the entire body, but symptoms begin mostly in the lungs with extremely viscous (thick) production of mucus which is difficult to expel.

Mucus as a medical symptom:
Increased mucus production in the upper respiratory tract is a symptom of many common ailments, such as the common cold. Nasal mucus may be removed by blowing the nose or by using traditional methods of nasal irrigation. Excess nasal mucus, as with a cold or allergies may be treated cautiously with decongestant medications. Excess mucus production in the bronchi and bronchioles, as may occur in asthma, bronchitis or influenza, may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications as a means of reducing the airway inflammation which triggers mucus over-production. Thickening of mucus as a “rebound” effect following overuse of decongestants may produce nasal or sinus drainage problems 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, the paranasal sinus or, if produced via a productive cough, of a lower respiratory tract infection.

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Cold weather and mucus:……..CLICK & SEE
During cold weather, the cilia which normally sweep mucus away from the nostrils and towards the back of the throat (see respiratory epithelium) become 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.

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. The same protective layer of mucus is what comes out when you sneeze. Mucus does not digest in the intestinal tract. Mucus is also secreted from glands within the rectum due to stimulation of the mucous membrane within.
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Diseases Associated With Mucus in the Bowel
Reproductive system:
In the female reproductive system, cervical mucus prevents infection. 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 contribute up to 100% of the total volume of the semen and contain mucus, amino acids, prostaglandins, vitamin C, and fructose as the main energy source for the sperm.
You may click to see :What Is The Function Of The Pinocytic Vesicles

You may also click to see :-
Empty nose syndrome
Spinnbarkeit
Mucoadhesion
Mucophagy

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mucophagy

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Sputum Evaluation (and Sputum Induction)

 

Introduction:
If your doctor thinks you have pneumonia, he or she might examine a sample of your sputum, the phlegm that you cough out of your lungs, to try to determine what type of bacteria or other infectious agent might be the cause.

Sputum induction is also  a new support tool for the diagnosis and evaluation of occupational asthma.
In order to evaluate a new test for helping in the diagnosis and evaluation of occupational asthma, 24 workers with occupational asthma were recruited. Besides assessing their respiratory function, their bronchial inflammation was evaluated by sputum induction, a simple method that evaluates bronchial cellularity non-invasively. The results show that the functional and inflammatory parameters of subjects with occupational asthma improve mainly in the 6 months following removal from exposure. Furthermore, it appears that the workers with eosinophilic bronchial inflammation at the time of diagnosis evolve more favourably after removal from exposure than those without this inflammation.

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How do you prepare for the test?
Drink plenty of fluids the night before the test; this may help to produce a sample.

What happens when the test is performed?
You need to cough up a sample of sputum. To be useful for testing, the stuff you cough up has to be from deep within the lungs. If your cough is too shallow or dry, the doctor might ask you to breathe in a saltwater mist through a tube or mask. This mist makes you cough deeply, usually producing an excellent phlegm sample.

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Method and apparatus for inducing sputum samples for diagnostic evaluation

Lung Tests in Asthma

Risk Factor: No risk is involved.

Must you do anything special after the test is over? : Nothing

How long is it before the result of the test is known?
The technician stains the sputum sample and views it under a microscope. Some of the sample is incubated to grow the bacteria or other germs in it for further testing. This step is called a sputum culture.While some stain results might be available on the day of your test, the culture usually requires several days.

Resources:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/diagnostic-tests/sputum-evaluation.htm
http://www.irsst.qc.ca/en/_projet_3045.html

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Ways to Calm a Cough Of Your Chield

Coughing is one of the most disturbing sounds a parent can hear. It is uncomfortable, tires a child, worries the parents, and robs the entire family of sleep. Yet, a cough is an essential defense mechanism to keep the lungs clear of viruses, bacterial, and other foreign objects.

What causes a child to cough?
Under normal conditions, the lining of the respiratory tract, from the nose to the lungs, continuously traps dust, viruses, bacteria, and other pollutants on a thin coat of mucus (children normally make about a pint a day). Tiny hairlike structures called cilia act like little brooms to keep this mucus and its foreign contents flowing out of the respiratory tract. When children get a respiratory tract infection, the cilia become disabled disrupting nature’s cleaning system. Coughing takes over for the inactivated cilia to help keep the airway clean. The cells of the respiratory tract compensate by producing more thick mucus to defend themselves from an invading germ.

A cough can be best handled in three ways.
The first is to stop all cigarette smoking in the house. By now, anyone with children who smokes and reads these columns should be trying to quit or at the very least smoking outside! Cigarette smoke is an irritant that not only paralyzes the cilia but causes the respiratory cells to produce more mucus. A second way to make the mucus thinner and soothe irritated respiratory cells is to use water in one form or another. So when our mom told us to drink plenty of water when we were sick, she was right!

A third way is to add water directly to a child’s inflamed respiratory tract by putting more moisture in the air. This can be accomplished by using a cool mist humidifier. These devices spin water into tiny droplets propelling them into the room where they eventually land on the child’s respiratory cells making the mucus less sticky. (The newer ultrasonic humidifiers produce a cool mist of a even smaller particle size that land farther down the respiratory tract.) Another benefit of more moisture in the air is that viruses survive better when the humidity is low. That might help explain why Influenza viruses show up more during the winter months when our air has less humidity.

Some parents wonder why pediatricians usually suggest the cool mist humidifier rather than the old standby – hot steam. Cool mist has more moisture than heated water and is more effective in reducing the swelling of inflamed, congested respiratory membranes. In addition, cool mist is better at thinning out the thick secretions that cause the youngster to cough. Furthermore, heated vaporizers pose a safety hazard with the risk of accidental burns or over warming the child.

If a child is wheezing or has asthma, use of cool mist therapy could make the problem worse. Call the child’s physician if the wheezing does not respond to usual treatments. In addition, humidifiers if not cleaned properly can act as incubators for viruses and bacteria present in the air.

The following guidelines will help parents get the most benefit from the humidifier:-

• Only use water – never add medications to the humidifier. Medicines (such as Vicks vaporub eucalyptus oil, etc.) do not help, only smell up the room, and may foul up a perfectly good humidifier. Unless advised by the child’s doctor, medications in the humidifier are unnecessary.

• Set the vaporizer several feet away from the child but not blowing directly onto a youngster’s face. Even if the humidifier blows away from the child, their clothes may become damp so check them frequently and change them as often as necessary.

• Use it primarily at night or naptime. Turn the humidifier on about ten minutes before putting the child to bed. Running the humidifier when the child is not in the room is unnecessary.

Working properly, the humidifier should put out an easily visible column of mist. Do not allow the room to become so we that water drips down the walls and windows; this will encourage the growth of molds.

When filling the humidifier, remove any remaining water and refill with fresh water. When not in use, dry the humidifier before putting it away.

Clean the humidifier thoroughly after each use. Mold can grow in the unit and throw off spores that can wreak havoc with an allergy prone child. Most units come with cleaning instructions. If the model does not have cleaning directions, use the following guidelines:

(1) remove any remaining water in the reservoir

(2) Add one-half cup of household bleach to one gallon of water in the reservoir

(3) Cover the mist port with a cloth towel

(4) Turn on the humidifier for 30 minutes

(5) Remove Water in the reservoir

(6) Rinse the reservoir throughout with water

(7) Repeat the procedure every third day.

Source:kidsgrowth.com

Cough

It’s one of the most common medical complaints, and each year millions of people — up to 10% of the population by some estimates — seek their doctor’s help for it. Often, however, using one or two natural treatments may be all that’s necessary to get relief from a bothersome cough.

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Symptoms
A cough is really a symptom — usually an indication of a respiratory infection or irritation of the throat, lungs, or air passages.

When to Call Your Doctor
If cough persists day and night, is exhausting, or is accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, wheezing, or severe headache.

What It Is
Despite its seemingly unhealthy sound, a cough is actually a vital bodily function. Even though you may not realize it, you probably cough once or twice every hour to clear your throat and air passages of debris. Coughing causes trouble only when an environmental substance or an illness makes you hack uncontrollably. Coughs can be dry and nonproductive, meaning they bring up no fluids or sputum; or they can be wet and productive, expelling mucus and the germs or irritants it contains.

What Causes It
When an irritant enters your respiratory system, tiny cough receptors in the throat, lungs, and air passages begin producing extra mucus. This action stimulates nerve endings and sets in motion a sequence that culminates with the forceful expulsion of air and foreign material through the mouth — the cough. A variety of factors can trigger this reaction. Bacteria or viruses — such as those that cause the flu or the common cold — lead to an overproduction of mucus, which initiates a cough reflex (particularly at night, when sinuses drain and set off tickly coughs). Asthma, bronchitis, hay fever, and environmental pollutants — such as cigarette smoke, chemicals, or perfume — are other culprits.

How Supplements Can Help
Natural cough remedies can be used in place of typical drugstore cough medicines. There are two primary goals in treating a cough: The first is to subdue the cough reflex, especially when a cough causes pain or interferes with sleep; the second is to thin the mucus, making it easier to bring up so the irritant can be flushed from the body.

What Else You Can Do
Drink lots of water, warm broth, tea, and room-temperature fruit or vegetable juice to help thin the mucus.
Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to moisten the air.
Don’t smoke and avoid contact with irritating fumes or vapors.
The herb plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is an effective cough remedy. However, the FDA warns that many products claiming to be plantain actually contain digitalis, a substance that can cause heart abnormalities. Avoid products labeled “plantain” unless the botanical name is given. And don’t confuse either type of plantain with the banana-like fruit Musa paradisiaca.

Supplement Recommendations

Slippery Elm
Marshmallow
Licorice
Horehound

Slippery Elm
Dosage: As a tea, 1 cup up to 3 times a day as needed.
Comments: Use 1 tsp. dried herb per cup of hot water.

Marshmallow

Dosage: As a tea, 1 cup up to 3 times a day as needed.
Comments: Use 2 tsp. dried herb per cup of hot water; can blend with slippery elm.

Licorice

Dosage: 45 drops tincture or 1 cup tea 3 times a day.
Comments: Add tincture to water or to herbal cough teas. Or steep 1 tsp. dried herb in hot water with slippery elm or marshmallow.

Horehound
Dosage: As a tea, 1 cup up to 3 times a day as needed.
Comments: Use 1 or 2 tsp. dried herb per cup of hot water. Can be taken alone or with other herbs listed.

Source:Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the nasal sinuses-the hollow cavities found within the cheek bones and near the eyes. The inflammation is usually triggered by inadequate draining due to allergies, infections or structural problems of the nose such as narrow drainage passages or a deviated septum. Sinuses help warm, moisten and filter the air in the nasal cavity and also add resonance to certain sounds. . If you recognize a symptom in yourself or your child, see an specialist for a proper examination and diagnosis.

Normally, mucus collecting in the sinuses drains into the nasal passages. When you have a cold or allergy attack, your sinuses become inflamed and are unable to drain. This can lead to congestion and infection. Diagnosis of acute sinusitis usually is based on a physical examination and a discussion of your symptoms. Your doctor also may use x-rays of your sinuses or obtain a sample of your nasal discharge to test for bacteria.The major signs indicating sinusitis are:

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1.Your cold has lasted more than seven days and is accompanied by cough, fever, headache, toothache, facial pain, green or gray nasal drainage, or post-nasal drip.

2. You have lost your sense of smell and taste and have bad breath accompanied by chronic congestion. In children, increased irritability and vomiting occurs with gagging on mucus and/or a prolonged cough.

Although colds are the most common cause of acute sinusitis, it is more likely that people with allergies will develop sinusitis. Allergies can trigger inflammation of the sinuses and nasal mucous linings. This inflammation prevents the sinus cavities from clearing out bacteria, and increases your chances of developing secondary bacterial sinusitis. If you test positive for allergies, your physician can prescribe appropriate medications to control your symptoms, thereby reducing the risk of developing an infection. People with sinus problems and allergies should avoid environmental irritants such as tobacco smoke and strong chemical odors, which may increase symptoms.

Structural problems in the nose—such as narrow drainage passages, tumors or polyps, or a deviated nasal septum (the bone and cartilage between the left and right sides of the nose)—may be another cause of sinusitis. Surgery is sometimes needed to correct these problems. Many patients with recurring or chronic sinusitis have more than one factor that predisposes them to infection. So, addressing only one factor may not be sufficient.

Diagnosis
Even if symptoms seem to be localized to the sinuses, the sinuses are not always infected. To make a correct diagnosis, a physician will take a detailed history and perform a physical examination. The physician may also order tests, if indicated. These tests can include allergy testing, sinus X-ray, CT scans (which make precise images of the sinus cavities), or a sampling of the nasal secretions or lining.

The physician also may perform an endoscopic examination. This involves inserting a narrow, flexible fiber-optic scope into the nasal cavity through the nostrils, which allows the physician to view the area where the sinuses and middle ear drain into the nose in an easy, painless, “patient friendly” manner.

Treatment
Sinus infections generally require a combination of therapies. In addition to prescribing an antibiotic when the sinusitis is caused by bacterial infection, your physician may prescribe a medication to reduce blockage or control allergies. This will help keep the sinus passages open. This medicine may be a decongestant, a mucus-thinning medicine or a cortisone nasal spray. Antihistamines, cromolyn and topical steroid nasal sprays help control allergic inflammation.

For people with allergies, long-term treatment to control and reduce allergic symptoms can also be effective in preventing the development of sinusitis. This treatment may include immunotherapy (also called “allergy shots”), anti-inflammatory medications, decongestants, and environmental control measures. Preventative use of low dose antibiotics and sinus drainage medications during times when symptoms will likely be worse, such as winter, also may prevent sinusitis.

Several non-drug treatments can also be VERY helpful. These include breathing in hot, moist air, applying hot packs and washing the nasal cavities with salt water. In cases of obstructed sinus passages that may require surgery, your allergist/immunologist may refer you to an otorhinolaryngologist, or an ear-nose-throat physician (ENT).

Sinusitis vs. rhinitis
Although many symptoms are similar, sinusitis differs from allergic rhinitis, known as “hay fever,” or non-allergic (vasomotor) rhinitis. Rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose—not the sinuses. Allergic rhinitis is caused by allergies and is often characterized by a runny nose, sneezing and congestion, and itchy eyes, nose, throat and inner ears. Non-allergic rhinitis is characterized by a swollen, inflamed nasal lining overflowing clear nasal drainage and a stuffy nose. It may be triggered by irritants such as smoke, changes in barometric pressure or temperature, or overuse of over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays. Poorly controlled chronic or recurring rhinitis can lead to sinusitis.

As you can see, symptoms of sinusitis can vary depending on the severity of the inflammation and the sinuses involved—all of the symptoms listed above may be present, or only a few. It’s best to consult your physician promptly if any of the described symptoms of sinusitis develop.

Some Good Folk Remedies that Cure Sinus Congestion
Some Herbal Sinus Remedies

Home remedy many times works well.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.

( Help taken from:http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/sinusitis.stm )

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