What YOU Want To Know About Mucus

What YOU Want To Know About Mucus

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Your body makes mucus all the time–and not just in your nose. Throughout the body, mucous membranes make roughly a quart of the stuff each day. Chances are you rarely think twice about all that goo until you catch a cold. That’s when nasal mucus secretions really ramp up, making your nose run like a faucet or causing thick congestion.

Annoying? You know it! But mucus is simply doing its job: defending, protecting, and cleansing your nasal passageways and keeping those delicate tissues moist, says Thomas Welch, MD, chief medical officer of Mercy Health in Toledo, Ohio. Here’s what you should know about all that snot.

What is mucus anyway?

Mucus is a slippery liquid containing water, proteins, and salt. Sugar-containing proteins (or glycoproteins) called mucins give mucus its gelatinous consistency. Discarded infection-fighting white blood cells plus other debris picked up in the nasal passageways often catch a ride in the mucus too.

Boogers are just dried up mucus (and other particles, like dirt, dust, and pollen). Post-nasal drip is mucus that runs down the back of the throat.

Where does mucus come from?

Your body is a mucus-making machine. Special cells and glands found in the thin lining (called the mucosa or mucous membrane) of body cavities and passageways leading out of the body regularly produce the slippery stuff.

You probably already know that mucus-secreting tissue can be found in the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs. But it’s also in our eyes, ears, GI tract, and reproductive and urinary organs.

Why do we make mucus?

Think of mucus in the respiratory system as “a film that protects the important parts of the inner nose and lungs,” says allergist and internist Tania Elliott, MD, chief medical officer at EHE, a New York City-based healthcare company specializing in preventive medicine. It keeps nasal passages (and lungs) well moisturized. “We don’t want those things dried out!” she says.

When a cold virus enters your nose, mucus production goes into overdrive, Dr. Welch explains. “It’s a reaction of the body against viruses, bacteria, or even particles of dust,” he says. It prevents those irritants from burrowing deeper into the lungs. Then, the tiny hairs in the respiratory tract called cilia help to sweep up the infected mucus like little brooms, says Dr. Elliott, so we can cough or blow it out.

Why does mucus get thicker when we’re sick?

Sometimes mucus gets thicker when we’re fighting off an infection. But it can also be thin and runny. It all depends on the type of virus or irritant activating the body’s mucus-producing tissues, explains Chandra Ivey, MD, a private-practice laryngologist and assistant clinical professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Smokers, for example, tend to have more mucus and thicker mucus, she says. In the case of a cold, a thicker wall of mucus can serve as a barrier preventing other viruses, bacteria, or irritating particles from entering the nasal membranes, she says.

Mucus can also get thicker if you’re taking certain medications that dehydrate your body, she adds. That’s another good reason to get extra liquids when you’re sick.

Why does mucus make it hard to breathe?

Stuffy nose? It’s usually the swollen mucosa–the mucus-generating tissue that lines your nose–that’s blocking your nasal passageways, not the mucus itself, Dr. Ivey says.

Other times, mucus can get thick like sludge, blocking the sinus cavities and preventing proper drainage, adds Dr. Elliott. “This leads to increased pain and pressure.”

What does a change in color mean?

Mucus is generally clear. If you have a cold, it can turn white or even yellow (especially if you’re dehydrated). A greenish hue may signal the presence of a greater number of infection-fighting white blood cells. But doctors say color alone isn’t a great indicator of a bacterial infection.

“It can turn yellow or green even with a virus,” notes Dr. Welch, who cautions against rushing to your doctor and begging for antibiotics. The vast majority of colds are viral, not bacterial. Antibiotics don’t fight viruses, and their misuse can lead to the development of new strains of bacteria that resist these medicines, he says.

A cold generally runs its course in a week, more or less. If you spike a fever, develop a cough, or have other signs that your condition is worsening, that’s when it’s time to call your doctor.

Do antihistamines or decongestants actually help?

These medicines are available over the counter in the form of pills, liquids, and nasal sprays. And while they may help ease cold symptoms, using them too often can make them less effective over time.

Antihistamines block inflammation, so there’s less tissue swelling and, in theory, less mucus production, Dr. Ivey says. Decongestants improve your breathing by constricting blood vessels in the area.

How does drinking extra fluids help?

Mom was right: You should feed your cold with plenty of liquids. Staying well hydrated can help thin out mucus so that it’s easier to expel.

But a lot of cough and cold medicines can be very drying, Dr. Elliott says. What’s more, when you’re sick and don’t feel like eating, your water intake naturally decreases. If you have a fever, you’re also losing fluid by sweating. Replenishing fluids is key, she says, to feeling better.

What else can I do to get rid of excess mucus?

Honey is a good mucus thinner, Dr. Ivey says. If you’re coughing up phlegm, try stirring some honey into a mug of tea. “It wraps around the little particles in the mucus and helps your body clear it,” she says.

Using a nasal irrigation device, like a neti pot, can help move mucus out of your nasal passages. “It washes it through,” Dr. Welch says.

As for medications, look for expectorants containing the active ingredient guaifenesin, which can bust up thick mucus, he says.

Dr. Elliott recommends adding eucalyptus to hot water and breathing in the humidified air or eating spicy foods. Both can naturally break up a stuffy nose.



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3 Weight Loss Success Strategies to Lose the Last 15 Pounds –

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Weight-loss success is much more likely if you follow some important behavioral strategies in addition to the choices you make for every meal. Based on my many years of experience working with hospital patients and the clients in my private practice, We’ve identified 3 Success Strategies that go a long way toward helping people stick to a weight-loss plan.

These strategies are simple—no need to reorganize your life to fit them in. Just start working them into your daily routines, and before you know it, you’ll be much better positioned for weight loss success.

When you are at rest, your body wants to conserve energy, so your metabolism slows down. Just as you shut off the lights when you sleep, your body turns down many of the processes involved in metabolism. When you wake up, you want to turn everything up and start burning calories and fat as soon as possible. That’s why I recommend eating breakfast within one hour of waking up.

By eating a nutritious, energy-revving breakfast (try these 20 flat-belly breakfasts), you are jump-starting your metabolism. When you add healthy food to your tank, so to speak, you prime your engines and get them ready to go, go, go for the day, so you can do everything that you have to do as well as those things you want to do, while feeling energetic.

Despite what you may have heard or read, it still stands that if you skip breakfast, you’re telling your body to stay in conservation mode. You’re setting yourself up to feel tired, lethargic, and irritable. When no fuel comes into your tank, your body starts thinking about holding on to calories and fat rather than burning them because it doesn’t know when more food will come. This is absolutely not the way you want to start your day. Even if you don’t feel like having breakfast, push yourself to have something—an apple, an orange, some yogurt, maybe a glass of vegetable juice. Something is better than nothing.

healthy lunch

Many people follow this kind of daily eating plan: They either skip breakfast or have a small bite in the morning. They go light on lunch. Then their hunger roars like a starved lion in the middle of the afternoon, at which point they start eating sweet/salty junk food. Then at dinner, thinking they didn’t really eat much during the day, they help themselves to giant portions of their evening meal, followed by dessert and bowls of ice cream and chips while sitting around watching TV for a few hours before bed.

This is not the way to eat.

It’s much better for your body to eat early and often. That means having a healthy, lean, green breakfast; a morning snack to keep your metabolism humming; a healthy lunch; an afternoon snack; and a dinner that’s smaller than you’re probably used to, with a small snack in the evening. Ideally you should eat the bulk of your calories at breakfast and lunch.

Researchers have found that people who consume most of their calories before 3 p.m. are more likely to be successful at weight loss than those who pile on the calories later in the day. And get this: It takes 24 hours for your blood sugar to stabilize after a late-night meal. Eating earlier gives your body plenty of time to burn up calories and stabilize your blood sugar before you get into bed.

sleeping

We Americans are an exhausted bunch of people. Although sleep researchers recommend 7 to 8 hours per night, studies show that 30 percent of us get fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night. Being chronically tired truly interferes with your health. Lack of sleep is associated with higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, and cancer. In fact, studies show that getting fewer than 5 hours of sleep per night is associated with a higher body-mass index. The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your risk of obesity. Insomnia causes hormonal changes and cravings for carbohydrates. And when you deprive yourself of adequate sleep, fatigue lowers your ability to resist trigger foods. Instead of eating, try taking a power nap for a bigger, more effective payoff.

Nighttime sleep even has an effect on daytime hunger, influencing the production of the hormones that regulate appetite. When we’re over-tired, we tend to eat more than we do when we are well rested. Overall, people who sleep less appear to weigh more. Be sure to get your 7 to 8 hours a night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, see your doctor; you may have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. If you have trouble getting the sleep you need, try these fabulous sleep boosters.

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What Really Works For Arthritis

What Really Works For Arthritis

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More than 50 million Americans live with the pain and discomfort of Arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CureTogether, a free resource owned by 23andMe, asked 1,292 people who have Arthritis to share what treatments work best for them, and the results are fairly evenly split between medical and lifestyle-driven interventions.

People who participated in the survey reported that corticosteroids, heat, rest, and massage helped them feel better. They also said that the drug Low-Dose Naltrexone and having joint replacement surgery eased their discomfort. Treatment ideas that didn’t seem to help as much included glucosamine and aspirin.

Most Effective Rated Treatments for Patients with Arthritis

  • Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Steroid injections
  • Joint replacement
  • Enbrel
  • Heat
  • Massage
  • Braces/splints
  • Rest
  • Pecans

These are all treatments suggested and reported by patients, so some redundancy in the terms used is to be expected. In addition, the term “treatment” in this study refers to anything patients describe using to help them feel better, whether it is an officially prescribed medical treatment or not. Where did this data come from? This is the result of a four-year CureTogether study on Arthritis, in which 1,292 people shared information about their symptoms and what treatments worked best for them.

CureTogether’s research findings are different than those made by 23andMe, which look at genetic associations with illness, traits and drug response. CureTogether present its findings just as they are – patient-reported data – to stimulate discussion and generate new insights for further research.

Please tweet, blog, or pass this along to anyone who can benefit or is interested in Arthritis. Thank you!



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Suffering From Gout? It Might Not Be What You Ate… –

Henry VIII

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We at IQYOU love genetics. Whether or not you take stock into the wondrous world of Snps is up to you – but hey, it’s science and it’s fact! This time, we’re going to discuss genetics and gout. And yes – genetics do have an impact on your gout – or lack there of.

Gout was once the disease once associated with gluttonous indulgence and King Henry VIII. Diet clearly plays a role, but genetics has a big influence on whether a person will develop this painful form of arthritis, which is caused by high uric acid levels.

Estimates are that about four percent of people in the U.S. have gout at any given time, and 10-20 percent of people may suffer a gout attack at some point in their lives.

Gout has become increasingly prevalent in recent decades as rich diets have become more commonplace. But genetics also plays an important role in the condition, specifically variants in genes involved in the excretion of uric acid from the kidneys.

Variants in the genes ABCG2 and SLC2A9 are associated with increased risk for gout. The gene ABCG2 encodes a protein that transports uric acid out of cells, while SLC2A9 encodes a protein that helps regulate the amount of uric acid removed from the blood by the kidneys.

Gout can be quite painful. When the body produces too much uric acid, the uric acid can form crystals in the joints that trigger attacks from the immune system. Consuming rich foods, sugary drinks, red meats and beer can increase the risk for developing the condition. For those at risk or who already have the condition, there are treatments and recommendations for keeping attacks at bay. Among the recommendations are staying well-hydrated, limiting the intake of red meat, beer and sugary drinks and regular monitoring of the uric acid level in your blood. There are also some medications used to help control the condition. Gout is also associated with other conditions including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, kidney disease and obesity.

“KING OF DISEASE”smiling_dalmatian

Everywhere there is DNA being made or broken down, there is uric acid. The build up of uric acid causes gout, but uric acid is also a molecule that is one of the building blocks of genes.

So why is it that gout is an extremely rare disease in the animal kingdom? The answer goes by the name “uricase.” This gene produces a protein that breaks down uric acid.

Uricase evolved a very long time ago and exists in organisms ranging from single-celled bacteria to almost all vertebrates. Its existence protects against uric acid build-up and, therefore, against gout. Unfortunately, for us humans, the uricase gene in our DNA is so mutated it no longer works. But we are not the only species to suffer from the so-called “King of Disease.”
Dalmations also famously get gout. In their case the mutations occur in a gene called SLC2A9 that helps excrete uric acid from the body. Interestingly, variations in this same gene are also associated with gout in humans. Most birds and some reptiles also develop gout, especially when kept as pets. This seems to be the result of extremely high protein diets and kidney failure.

Perhaps the most surprising species afflicted with this disease is the T-rex. Fossil evidence of damaged joints have provided a convincing argument that the King of Dinosaurs, perhaps appropriately, harbored the King of Diseases. However, in this case, we may never be sure whether it was caused by a genetic mutation or a diet rich in red meats.

Fossil evidence of damaged joints have provided a convincing argument that the King of Dinosaurs, perhaps appropriately, harbored the King of Diseases. However, in this case, we may never be sure whether it was caused by a genetic mutation or a diet rich in red meats.



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