PLEASE NOTE THIS IS AN ARTICLE WHICH DISCUSSES WAYS OF HELPING TO REDUCE MUCUS PRODUCTION IN THE BODY. THE ADVICE CONTAINED WITHIN IS NOT INTENDED TO SUGGEST THAT IT IS EFFECTIVE IN PREVENTION OR TREATMENT OF CORONA VIRUS INFECTION.
Coronavirus infection can cause excess mucus production.
Mucus forms a protective lining in our throat and gut to keep us healthy. Mucus stops these areas drying out, lubricates them to prevent damage and helps to defend against invaders such as viruses and bacteria. The body’s immune response can increase mucus production to try and get rid of invaders or infections.
Although a healthy body requires some mucus if there’s too much or if it becomes too thick it can cause problems. Excess mucus may be caused by many things, including:
- infections such as a cold, flu or other viruses
- allergies – food allergies and sensitivities
- irritation from pollution, smoking, fumes, chemicals, etc
- digestive conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease
- lung or genetic diseases such as pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Some foods and drinks can either thicken mucus or cause more mucus to be produced. Food allergies or intolerances can contribute to mucus production. Other foods can help reduce mucus production.
The foods most likely to cause reactions in some people include: eggs, dairy, soy, shellfish and gluten.
Other foods included on the Lung Institute’s mucus producing list include:
- Red and processed meat
- Sugar and sugary drinks
- Alcoholic drinks
So what are good foods to eat?
Foods that may help to thin or reduce mucus production include:
- Oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel)
- Seeds including pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
- Fruit including grapefruit, pineapple, lemon
- Vegetables including watercress, pumpkin, celery, onion, parsley
- Herbs / spices including ginger, cayenne pepper, garlic, chamomile, horseradish
- Honey instead of sugar
- Olive oil
- Broth – chicken or vegetable
- Water and non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks
As well as diet, you might want to consider trying the following:
- Keep the air moist – dry air irritates the nose and throat, causing more mucus to be produced. Placing a humidifier in the bedroom can help keep the nose clear and prevent a sore throat.
- Drink plenty of fluids – your body needs to stay hydrated to keep mucus thin.
- Apply a warm, wet flannel to your face. Inhaling through a damp cloth is a quick way to return moisture to the nose and throat. The heat will help to relieve pain and pressure. Eucalyptus oil helps clear the nose and smells nice too!
- Gargle with salt water. This can soothe an irritated throat and may help to clear away residual mucus. One teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water can be gargled several times per day.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both substances lead to dehydration if consumed in excess. When mucus and phlegm are an issue, drink plenty of warm, non-caffeinated beverages.
- Take a hot bath or shower. Time spent in a steam-filled bathroom may help to loosen and clear mucus in the nose and throat. Adding eucalyptus to a hot bath can help further.
A healthy diet and few easy activities can help boost our immune system and limit mucus production. For easy recipes or specific individual advice please contact Sophie Driver, Nutritional Therapist at the Broad Street Practice.