Thick Rubbery Mucus From Nose: Should You Be Worried?
Published Nov 15, 2021
A thick rubbery mucus from nose is usually a sign that there’s something wrong with your body’s mucus production process. But is it something to worry about? Not necessarily. Although, there are cases where you may need more than just home remedies.
Where Does the Mucus in Your Nose Come From?
Here’s a fun fact: your body produces more than one liter of nasal mucus a day, all of which drains to your throat. Gross? A little bit, but nasal mucus plays an integral role in keeping your body healthy. This type of mucus is produced by the mucous membranes that line your nose and sinuses.
Most of the time, the mucus produced by your body goes unnoticed. When something in your environment throws off this process, your body goes into overdrive, producing excess mucus. Regular, runny mucus is the product of the moisture in the mucous membranes. This excess mucus production dries out your mucous membranes, which causes the mucus to become thick and rubbery.
When this happens, you could have mucus stuck between your nose and throat causing chronic cough with hard phlegm chunks.
The state of these fluids and secretions is also a telltale sign of our nasal health. A mucus that’s clear and runny indicates that everything is working smoothly in your sinuses.
But once infection sets in, your nasal membranes start to produce thick white mucus. When that white mucus turns into a thick yellow snot with a green tinge, it means that your body is fighting an infection. While more serious infections tend to produce darker-colored mucus, sometimes with a hint of blood.
In general, however, thick and rubbery nasal mucus tends to clear on its own without needing medication. But if you’ve been blowing fleshy chunks out of your nose or spewing out hard phlegm chunks for days, you may need to seek medical help.
What Causes Hard Nasal Mucus?
As mentioned, the body’s natural process includes producing mucus, which traps external irritants in it, preventing them from reaching the lungs. But certain factors can cause your nasal mucus to become hard, thick, and rubbery. Here are some of them:
1. Dry environment
A dry environment refers most especially to air quality. Dry air, such as the one in winter, dries out your sinuses. With less moisture in the air, your mucous membranes will go into overdrive which leads to thick and rubbery mucus.
2. Common cold
If you have recurring sinus issues, you’ll know that a slight trigger like a common cold can bring a viral infection. Your body’s response to bacterial and viral infections is to overproduce mucus in hopes of flushing out the cause of the infection.
3. Lung diseases
Certain lung diseases also cause mucus to thicken and block airways. These lung diseases include bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, and pneumonia, among others. Most, if not all, lung diseases are closely associated with thickened mucus. In bronchitis, a common experience among patients is coughing up thickened mucus, which can typically appear discolored.
4. Fungal rhinosinusitis
As the name suggests, fungal rhinosinusitis or fungal sinusitis is a type of fungal infection in the sinuses. This is common in people suffering from auto-immune diseases like diabetes and leukemia, especially if they’re living in warm, humid climates.
Fungal sinusitis happens when you inhale fungal organisms and they get deposited in your sinus cavities. Since these cavities are dark and moist, it provides an ideal environment for the fungus to breed causing your sinus to get inflamed.
Symptoms of fungal rhinosinusitis include:
- nasal inflammation
- decreased sense of smell
- nasal congestion
- sinus headache
- pain and tenderness in the cheek and forehead area
Fungal sinus infections also come in two types: invasive and non-invasive. Fungal rhinosinusitis belongs to the latter as it only affects the areas around the nose and sinuses.
Allergies are caused by allergens, which are external irritants. Your body overproduces mucus to flush them out, much like it would during bacterial and viral infections. This is why people suffering from allergic rhinitis and asthma often have to contend with excess mucus production.
If your body isn’t sufficiently hydrated, it will also show in the quality of your mucus. The mucous membrane needs adequate moisture to produce clear and runny mucus. Diuretics, coffee and alcohol, strenuous exercise, excessive sweating, and certain medications can lead to dehydration.
When you smoke, the mucus-producing cells in your lungs and airways grow in size. This, in turn, causes thick rubbery mucus. Since your lungs cannot clean out the excess mucus on their own, the mucus stays in your airways, leading to dry cough and hard phlegm chunks. Previous studies on rats have also shown that cigarette smoking leads to the overproduction of mucus cells in the large and small airways.
8. Nasal polyps
Nasal polyps are growths that line the inside of your sinus cavities. Instead of draining properly, the excess mucus gets trapped in these growths. This causes mucus buildup leading to sinus infections.
Thick Rubbery Mucus From Nose: Treatment Options
Depending on the underlying cause, nasal congestions due to thick and rubbery mucus clears away on their own without needing medical intervention. But if it starts becoming a problem, making breathing difficult and causing discomfort, here are some possible ways to treat it:
If your condition doesn’t require medications, here are some home remedies you can take and apply daily to reduce and prevent thick and rubbery mucus.
- Humidifiers: Dry air is your enemy, so the logical solution is to use humidifiers to ensure your mucous membranes are sufficiently moisturized.
- Drink more water: With dehydration being a leading factor in excess mucus production, you’ll want to stay adequately hydrated. So make it a habit to drink plenty of water every day. Around 8-10 cups is a good start, and you should reduce your intake of diuretics.
- Respiratory health-boosting ingredients: We recommend drinking and eating foods containing lemon, ginger, and garlic. Spicy foods containing capsaicin may also help relieve sinuses and keep mucus flowing.
- Gargle salt water: Gargling a warm water solution with salt helps relieve mucus at the back of the throat and helps kill germs that could cause infection.
- Quit smoking: If you’re a chronic smoker, you’ll want to stop it. Smoking puts you at significant risk of poor lung health and may even lead to lung cancer. Besides the long-term effects, it could also have several short-term side effects, such as excess mucus.
- Nasal Irrigations: Also known as sinus flush, nasal irrigation uses saline or saltwater to irrigate the nasal passages. Salt is a natural antiseptic, and it also has anti-inflammatory properties. When used to irrigate the sinuses, it can flush out allergens, excess mucus, bacteria, and other debris. It can help moisten your mucous membranes too. Most people use a neti pot to rinse their nasal passages. But you can also use squeeze bottles or even saline nasal sprays.
- Wear a respirator mask. This is for people struggling with severe allergies like allergic rhinitis and asthma. Since pollen and other allergens can easily trigger asthma or rhinitis attacks, wearing a mask that can filter these allergens is important.
Over-the-counter and Prescription Medication
- Over-the-counter Medications: You can try using decongestants that open up your airways and soothe inflammation. There are many oral decongestants, which come in the form of tablets, syrups, and flavored powders. Expectorants, such as guaifenesin (Mucinex and Robitussin), thin out mucus, so it clears your throat and chest. If the excess mucus is caused by allergies, you may take an antihistamine.
- Prescription medicines: OTC medicines may not work in severe medical conditions like chronic catarrh and other lung diseases. In cases like this, your doctor will prescribe medications to thin out the mucus. Mucus thinners, such as mucolytics, are inhaled medications capable of thinning out mucus in the airways so that they can be coughed out. The two primary types of mucolytics are hypertonic saline and dornase alfa (Pulmozyme).
If your excess mucus is caused by certain sinus issues like fungal rhinosinusitis and nasal polyps, your doctor may recommend surgery. But this is usually for severe cases.
For fungal sinusitis, your doctor may perform traditional surgery or a minimally invasive endoscopic surgery depending on the type of infection. This will involve inserting a flexible tube with a camera into your nose to remove the fungus and dead cells stuck inside your sinus.
Nasal polyps, on the other hand, are removed through nasal polypectomy. This type of surgery removes the polyps or growths lining the inside of your sinuses. Depending on where your polyps are, the surgery may last a few hours. But most patients can go home on the same day as the surgery.
When to See a Doctor
As mentioned, thick rubbery mucus usually clears on its own after a few days. But if home remedies don’t work or you’re experiencing breathing difficulties, dizziness, or other symptoms that indicate an emergency, you should go and see a doctor.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer and SEO specialist. She works hard to ensure her work uses accurate facts by cross checking reputable sources. She is the lead author for several prominent websites covering a variety of topics including law, health, nutrition, and more.