Here’s something interesting to get us started: did you know that phlegm and mucus are not the same? It’s true.
When we suffer from a nasty cold, it’s the mucus that gives us that dreaded sinus congestion. Phlegm settles in the respiratory system and makes its presence known when we cough or wheeze.
While undoubtedly gross, both substances serve essential (relatively similar) purposes, especially when it comes to safeguarding our health. Mucus is responsible for cleansing and moisturizing the nasal passages, humidifying the air we breathe, and filtering out particles such as dust and dirt. Both slimy concoctions are critical for protecting our respiratory organs, such as our lungs. They also contain antibodies and serve us as natural anti-bacterials – both essential for fighting infections.
Although the only time we really think about mucus is when we’re sick, our body produces about one-and-a-half liters of the stuff every day. Some illnesses boost the production of mucus and alter its consistency, which makes it all but impossible to ignore. (The miserable, stuffed-up feeling that colds provide is the physical manifestation of such alterations.)
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