flu season – Mucus info.

from straight dope –

How does my nose produce so much snot so fast when I have a cold?

As is true of all God’s creation, mucus is good for you. No doubt you could stand to have a little less of it at times, but this shouldn’t decrease our esteem for a fluid that is only trying to defend us against germs, dust, and other foreign matter. Evidently, since you got a cold, this defense against germs wasn’t entirely successful. But the mucus is trying. You might show a little appreciation.

Under normal circumstances–that is, when you don’t have a cold–nasal mucus is part of the system by which your body conditions “inspired air.” (Inspired air is the term doctors use for inhaled air. They could just say “inhaled,” but inspired has a much more elegant ring.) The air swirls through your nasal passages and gets warmed up. Meanwhile the dust and whatnot strikes the mucus-lined sides and sticks. Or to put it more technically, it strikes the mucus-lined ciliated epithelium of the posterior nasopharynx and . . . well, I guess “sticks” is not the word you want to use in this context. Adheres, let’s say. The cilia (little hairs) and mucus then transport the debris to the rear of the mouth, whence you can hawk it up. This is called postnasal drip. Another of life’s little annoyances that you ought to be grateful for.

As I say, the above mechanism is not a foolproof antimicrobial defense, and sometimes you get a cold. Your mucus then kicks into overdrive in an attempt to shed the virus or whatever bad thing it is you’ve got. Sometimes the mucus succeeds, at least to the point where you can continue to breathe through your nose. Sometimes it doesn’t and your nose plugs up, and the infection takes root in your sinuses, producing the dreaded green globs and making you sound like your head was whittled from a potato. You think this is better than having a runny nose? I think not. Sorry if I sound like I’m dumping on you, but I’m trying to put matters in perspective. Your problem isn’t the mucus, it’s the germs.

The reason you have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of mucus when suffering from a cold is that the mucus-producing cells lining your nasal cavity extract the stuff mostly from your blood, of which needless to say you have a vast supply. The blood transports the raw materials (largely water) from other parts of the body. Fluid from your blood diffuses through the capillary walls and into the cells and moments later winds up in your handkerchief. (This process isn’t unique to mucus; blood is the highway for most of your bodily fluids.) Incidentally, you produce less mucus than you may think. One experiment showed that on the peak day of a cold the average person produces about 14 grams of drippings, or roughly half an ounce.

Another question I’m asked from time to time is, what’s the chemical formula for snot? (Listen, I’ve heard worse.) I have no definite answer to this. Ninety-five percent of mucus is H2O, while the remainder is protein, carbohydrate, lipids, and miscellaneous, the proportions and nature of which vary. I found some discussion in the medical literature about what makes mucus, um, stringy, but figured this was something you’d just as soon not know.

Finally, I came across an article entitled “Effects of Drinking . . . Chicken Soup on Nasal Mucus Velocity.” About time somebody researched this. The article says the “Jewish penicillin” (authors’ term) is indeed salubrious, although only for half an hour, largely because the healing vapors penetrate the nasal passages and loosen things up. So eat your chicken soup already; mama was right all along.

wishing I had some pasta…

Be nice. Noodles are nice. If they can do it, so can we.
Be firm. Noodles (cooked properly) are firm. If they can do it, so can we.
Be resilient. Noodles are resilient. If they can do it, so can we.
Be nourishing. Noodles are nourishing…

Journalling Today went reasonably well, all told, barring the LJ being wonky still. Had an early lunch with Danny, we exchanged loot. (He got Newtie a Tigger to play with, and for me, a Dexter’s Lab Remote controlled robot. somehow I suspect Newt’ll be messing more with the ‘bot.) We went to Starlight, and I had a yummy black bean burger, and a big honking burger…Danny and I got caught up, he’s been so busy with school and the wife…. Poor guy’s pretty much just been keeping his head above water, socially and financially. He needs to get more R&R time in, but I fear that the wife won’t give him time to decompress much… Ah well, he’ll get it together, and hopefully I’ll be along for the ride sometime this week… his next time off isn’t until easter, then summer. The life of a teacher… Arrived at work barely on time. Work went as usual, and got to talk with Ornj for a too-short while this eve. (I had to work extra hard, and she was busy with other things too.

Good things that happened today –

Visited with Dan.
Made a bootleg copy of Kev’s Boston Blackie/ Philip Marlowe MP3, I’ll be back in Noir-style writing in no time. 🙂
Pickles Returned to work, gave me a ride home. Poor gal has the Froggiest throat… apparently she’s been croaky since Christmas.
Talked a bit with Ornj, and she pointed me to a nifty game on MSN – bejeweled
Tucked my sweetie into bed, and think I’ll be dreaming of her shortly.

Not much bad happened today, save for trouble connecting to the net when I got home tonight.

Oh, the glory that is payday tomorrow. Still have a few ducats left over from Christmas, and will probably pick myself up a present too… A new perf for the big machine, hard drive, or an optical mouse… (maybe both… 🙂 ) Contemplating getting a GPS for my palm… I don’t travel much, but it looks like a fun doodad.

I plan on doing a lot of writing this weekend… something a little hard boiled, and a vibe from the ’40s, I suspect. Going to shoot for 3 short stories by 2001… better boogie. Maybe more of Mitch and Sally. I like them.

My eyeballs are getitng a bit scorched, and I wish I could read the entries of my friends… again, the seizures of the net forbid me from reading the hubbub of my friends… Ah well.. it’s not to be, tonight. I hope eveyone is home, safe and comfy in bed.

Little Known Factoid:
Five Jell-O flavors that flopped: celery, coffee, cola, apple, and chocolate.

And a bunch of other stuff about noodles. (Not really, I would have included it if there were.)