What Is Mucus?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Coughing Up Mucus

Cough is a rapid expulsion of air from the lungs typically in order to clear the lung airways of:

  • fluids,
  • mucus, or
  • material.

Cough is also called tussis. Cough can be categorized as acute (less than three weeks) or chronic (greater than three weeks).

What is mucus?

Mucus is a normal, slippery and stringy fluid substance produced by many lining tissues in the body. It is essential for body function and acts as a protective and moisturizing layer to keep critical organs from drying out. Mucus also acts as a trap for irritants like dust, smoke, or bacteria. It contains antibodies and bacteria-killing enzymes to help fight off infections.

The body produces a lot of mucus -- about 1 to 1.5 liters per day. We don't tend to notice mucus at all unless its production is increased or the quality of mucus has changed, as may happen with different illnesses and conditions.

Reviewed on 3/2/2016
References
REFERENCE:

"Upper Respiratory Infection." Medscape.

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