The symptoms of lung cancer usually occur when the disease has become advanced. And these can vary from patient to patient. One of these symptoms is coughing most of the time. Some patients can cough up mucus (or phlegm). Does this mean that lung cancer produces mucus, too?
It is something that everyone has. Even it has a very important purpose for the body. It is not only found in the airways and lungs. Mucus-producing tissues also line over other parts of the body such as gastrointestinal tract.
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It has a number of different functions in the body. It can act as a sort of flypaper, trapping bad substances (such as dust or even bacteria) before they can entire into the body. This function is particularly more important for sensitive airways.
Mucus is essential for your lungs and airways. Another alternative name for airway mucus is ASL or the airway surface liquid. It is a thin layer of fluid that covers the luminal surface of the lungs and airways.
ASL has major function to give protection for airways, particularly your lungs. It works through mucociliary clearance against any harmful thing entering the lungs such as harmful chemicals and foreign particles.
It is composed by water, ions, and numerous macromolecules. It also contains essential enzymes and antibodies. Most of these components can help recognize invaders and eliminate them!
Mucus produced in the lungs or in the areas of lower airways (such as other parts of respiratory system leading to the lungs) is also often called as phlegm. And phlegm may be slightly different from mucus produced in the nose and sinuses.
The healthy color of mucus is usually ‘clear’. And the color of your mucus can pinpoint a health problem, though not always. For instances:
- Cloudy goo (white) may signal the beginning of dehydration, cold, or allergies.
- Yellow or green. For this case, you should not make any conclusion from the color of your mucus – though yellow may signal the presence of inflammation and green is part of the body’s mechanism to fix the problem. But in essence, both colors mean that there is something that goes awry in the body and your body is trying to fight back with its immune system.
- A darker shade of yellow (gold, with a peanut butter-like consistency) may pinpoint a fungal infection such as fungal sinusitis.
- Pink or even red! This could be a signal of bleeding, such as broken blood vessel that causes bleeding close to the nose.
- Dark or black mucus means a number of different things. For examples, it may signal that you have inhaled bad things from the air such as smoke and pollutants. Or it occurs due to a fungal infection.
So now you know that your lungs have some mucus-producing tissues. These tissues produce mucus to provide a protective blanket over the surfaces of the lungs, especially to help protect the tissues underneath and also keep them moist (preventing them from drying out).
If there is no mucus or lack of mucus over the surfaces of your lungs, the tissues are easier to lose the moisture and are likely to get dry & crack – you’ll get a chink in the armor.
Coughing up sputum (thick mucus) in people with lung cancer doesn’t necessarily mean that the cancer produces mucus.