Whether created to lighten the weight of the head, serve as a “crumple zone,” give better resonance to the voice, just simply to produce mucus, or for a combination of all those reasons, the sinus cavities play a vital role in our breathing mechanism and in keeping us healthy. Without the yucky stuff they produce our lives would be miserable.
It is interesting that we do not notice the sinuses' constant production of mucus until it becomes thick or excessive-although normally we produce up to a quart a day–or it creates sinus pressure. Besides giving moisture to the air when needed, mucus acts as gatekeeper warding off viruses, bacteria, foreign particles, pollutants, that otherwise would compromise our breathing mechanism and cause infection and other problems. It does not catch only those elements, but it also washes them away.
What about the colors of mucus? According to some authorities here are the meanings:
Clear and watery– this is the normal, healthy kind; it is constantly being produced and is needed for the protection of our breathing apparatus, digestive organs, etc., by guarding them against contamination and disease. It contains antiseptic enzymes, salts and water, of course. Mucus also serves as a lubricant. Clear, again, is the natural healthy color of mucus.
Yellow– produced when the air is too dry, can also be an indication of a sinus infection, bronchitis–when accompanied by coughing, wheezing, fatigue, chest discomfort, shortness of breath after a mild exertion; not all these signs or symptoms need to be present when having bronchitis.
Green– can be a sign of a sinus infection or bronchitis-see additional signs and symptoms for bronchitis under yellow, above. If there is a green nasal discharge accompanied by a sinus pain or fever and this has been going on for several days it can be a sign or symptom of a bacterial infection and a doctor should be seen.
Brown– if you smoke or have spent some time in a place filled with tobacco smoke chances are that this is the cause of that mucus color. Smoking exacerbates any respiratory health issue and makes much worse any mucus problem in the upper respiratory organs and passages. It pays to quit smoking.
White– this is not a common hue of mucus and it can be caused by the use of dairy products, especially when one is having congestion and pressure in the sinuses and a dairy product, especially milk, is used. It can also be an indication of bronchitis-see additional signs and symptoms for bronchitis under yellow, above.
Blood– whenever blood accompanies any of the above mucus colors or appears by itself it should be taken seriously and a physician should be consulted soon.
Mucus not only helps us detect what is wrong with us, but it aids our body by protecting it, as we have seen, against unwanted elements in our environment. Mucus is a friend.
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