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Mucus is the thick and sticky fluid that occasionally clogs up your nasal passages and even your throat. While mucus in the nasal passages is easier to flush out, the mucus in the throat tends to get stuck, causing much irritation.
Mucus is generally produced by the cells lining the sinus passages. On average, the body produces 1 to 2 quarts of mucus a day. This should keep the nasal membranes moist and capable of humidifying the air that is sucked into the body. Mucus also aids in the fight against irritants and infections. So where exactly does dripping mucus go? The answer is mostly in the throat. Mucus in the throat is what gives you the feeling of having constant phlegm. But how exactly does the mucus reach the throat?
The production of mucus is normally accelerated when the body deals with an infection. As its way of removing the foreign particles that perhaps caused the infection, the body tends to stimulate mucus production and heighten its defense against the onslaught of infectious foreign matters. This results in the thickening of the mucus. At this phase, the most accessible exit passage for the thickened mucus is through the throat.
Irritants and Pollution
Exposure to smoke, fog and noxious gases such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide causes mucus to drip excessively. It also causes swelling of nasal passages and inflammation in the nose, or rhinitis.
Reaction to Food
Eating dairy products while suffering flu, colds and fever causes thickening and uncontrolled dripping of mucus. Allergic reactions to certain foods result in nasal stuffiness and mucus flow from the nose to the throat. Consuming milk, wheat and egg products can aggravate the food allergy symptoms. Continuously eating foods that you are allergic to may lead to excess mucus production, thickening and dripping or clogging in the throat.
Living in dry areas or in a dry environment dries out the nasal mucus, making it thick and difficult to flush out. The same effect is experienced with the dry, cool air during winter months. Naturally, the mucus goes down the throat. Stagnant mucus in the throat is a perfect host for bacteria and other pathogens.
Mucus in the throat is a common consequence of smoking and alcohol consumption. Smoking cigarettes irritates and inflames the delicate mucus membrane, causing an increased secretion of mucus. Alcohol and caffeine also can cause the drying up of mucus, particularly the stagnant mucus in the throat, making it harder to flush out.
Throat and swallowing disorders also can be responsible for stagnant mucus in the throat. The degrading control in the throat muscles explains why the mucus stays in the throat spaces. Having a deviated septum, a condition in which the cartilage dividing the nose in two sides moves, is one structural problem that results in a change in the way mucus flows.