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What Is Mucosal Inflammation?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Mucosal inflammation typically refers to swelling or irritation of the mucus membranes. These are areas of the body which produce mucus in an effort to filter out bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. This includes the nasal cavities, mouth, throat, eyes, vagina, lungs, and intestines. Inflammation may occur if bacteria or viruses cause an infection, if the area is irritated by allergens or other foreign bodies, or due to fungal infection. Other symptoms are often present along with mucosal inflammation.

The mucus membranes are designed to catch and rid the body of invaders such as bacteria, dust, pollen, and viruses. While they are successful in many cases, they can become bogged down with these pathogens and become infected. Common illnesses involving the mucus membranes include the common cold and influenza. Although external mucus membranes are most commonly known, there are also interior membranes. The lungs, for instance, produce mucus to remove harmful invaders.

Mucosal inflammation refers to the swelling and irritation common with many illnesses. For instance, the throat can swell and become red if it is invaded by bacteria. The tissues inside the nose may also swell during a cold, or the vaginal tissues can swell during a yeast infection. This is a common response to illness and is often one of the first signs that one is ill. Additional symptoms are also common, including pain to the inflamed area.

The symptoms that may occur will depend heavily on the condition one has. For instance, symptoms of a cold or flu may include sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat, fever, and coughing. A vaginal infection can cause redness, itching, discharge, pain, or odor. In most cases of illness, symptoms aside from mucosal inflammation will occur at some point. Many times, inflammation will occur at the same time as, or after, other symptoms have begun to appear.

Treatment for mucosal inflammation will depend on the underlying condition. Medication is a common treatment method for most conditions, but there are other treatments which can be used to bring down swelling until the medications kick in. Nasal cavities can often be soothed with a saline spray, or by inhaling menthol vapors or steam. Vaginal irritation can often be remedied by using an over the counter cream in combination with medication prescribed by a doctor to treat the underlying infection.

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Discussion Comments
By Talentryto — On Feb 07, 2014

As the article points out Rundocuri, the use of saline spray or vapor steam is also helpful, though these options don't do much to put moisture into the air.

By Rundocuri — On Feb 04, 2014

Mucosal inflammation, especially when it occurs in the sinus passages, is also helped by keeping moisture in the air. Though this is difficult during the dry, winter months, a humidifier is helpful in moisturizing the air in your home.

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