You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friends nose.

Well, you could. But that's gross. And terribly impolite.

Today we're talking about something we all have, and sometimes we all have way too much of it. But without it, we'd be in bad shape.

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I'm talking Snot. Boogers. Mucus. (be happy I chose a picture of lime Jello to lead off with. Google 'snot' and see what it could have been...)

Anyway, this is a gross subject, but I've dealt with gross before. So, grow up. Mucus is something every single person produces. So, maybe we should know why we produce it.

Respiration works like this:

  • You inhale through your nose.
  • Small hairs inside the nose trap dust, pollen and other things in the air.
  • The inside of the nose adds a little moisture to the air from the nose walls.
  • The air is heated up by the blood running through the veins on the inside of your nose.

On a normal day, when you're fine, not sick, no allergies, not eating or drinking foods that change your mucus, (dairy and hot wings, for example), your body produces about 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus. Most of that just runs down the back of your throat, and you never notice it.

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When you get sick, or react to some external stimuli, you don't generally produce more mucus, it just gets thicker. For example, when it's allergy season, and the ragweed is in full force, the mucus lining of your nose collects the pollen. The more it collects, the more you need to clear your nasal passages.

It's the same when you're sick. Except it's bacteria the mucus traps instead of pollen.

You can tell a lot about a persons health by the color of their mucus.

  • Clear - Clear mucus means you probably only have allergies. Although, a sinus infection or ear infection will produce clear mucus sometimes as well.
  • Green/Yellow - When you get sick, the body sends in the troops in the form of white blood cells. One of the things they do is, they mark the invaders for death with an enzyme. That enzyme is green. Hence, green mucus.
  • Red/Brown - Reds or Browns in your mucus indicates bleeding. Most likely the blood came from the lining of your nose. Nasal bleeding happens when the lining gets dry and cracked, or is irritated by too much rubbing, blowing or picking.

Some people seem plagued by excessive amounts of mucus. Their sinuses are always dripping, they constantly blow their noses, they have the stray nose nugget in view....

We can all sympathize with them. It's bad enough when we have colds or allergies. Imagine having a stuffed up nose constantly.

About the only way you can fix that, is to take an antihistamine. This is fine for occasional use, like when sick or for allergies. But if you use them too much, your mucus will dry up and cause a whole plethora of other issues.

Expectorants thin the mucus, making it easier to expel, but again, be careful. Too much, and you get rid of too much mucus.

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Then, there's the Neti Pot. Personally, I can't use them. Makes me feel like I'm drowning. But, I will admit, they do work. A Neti Pot is a watering can you fill with distilled water. You then tilt your head to the side over a sink, and pour the contents of the mater up one nostril. The water will then come out the other, effectively flushing you out. This will clear up excess mucus, and wash away pollen and dust. I know people who Neti Pot every night before bed.

A word to the wise, though. If you decide to use a Neti Pot, make sure your water is distilled. If you use tap water, you run the risk of getting an infection of the brain. I'm not even kidding. There's all sorts of bad stuff in tap water that our gut can kill, but the rest of our bodies can't. You get an Amoeba in the brain, and you can start counting the days you have left on both hands and one foot, if you're lucky.

Now, some of you may have noticed my terminology in this post. I've used the word mucus. Partly because I'm being nice by not plastering snot everywhere, and partly because mucus, snot and boogers are all slightly different.

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Mucus is what you have all the time. It's what lines the nose, sinuses, throat, lungs and stomach.

Snot is the thick, runny mucus you blow out when you have a cold.

Boogers are the hard chunky things you pick out while sitting at a stop sign, oblivious to the fact that everyone around you is watching. ($50 says the Smails kid eats it....)

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I was thinking of ending with a recipe for mucus you could make with your kids, but decided to not add it. I know how some of you think, and I won't be held responsible for suppling you with the recipe for disaster.

Now, go blow your nose. You know you need to.