Our bodies produce mucus constantly. Normally, it goes unnoticed until it becomes excessive or thick. Having a cold or the flu can cause the mucus to thicken, as can being dehydrated. There are several at-home treatments that are effective, but if the thickening mucus appears just after a head injury, you should speak to your physician to rule out any serious conditions.
Infections, colds, flu and hay fever are just a few of the conditions that may cause thick mucus to occur. If not thinned out, it may lead to ear and sinus infections. According to Medline Plus, the easiest way to thin out mucus and make it less sticky is to drink plenty of liquids. Dr. Hoffman suggests that you consume ten 8-ounce glasses daily of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids such as water. Your urine output should be very light in color; if it isn't, then you're not drinking enough.
Peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary and tea tree essential oils can help thin out mucus and clear sinus passageways. You can inhale these oils by placing a few drops onto a clean cloth and inhale. You can also add several drops to boiling water or sprinkle some on the walls of your shower to create scented steam, which you can inhale. Additionally, peppermint makes a good expectorant as it will help break up phlegm and reduce coughing, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Drinking peppermint tea can effectively thin out mucus, especially if it is hot and you inhale the aroma as well. According to herbalist Michael Tierra in "The Way of Herbs," herbs such as black pepper, red pepper, cinnamon, sage and ginger can help thin out and break up mucus as well as relieve congestion. He suggests making a powder mixture of equal parts ground black pepper, ground ginger and ground anise. You can mix a teaspoon of this powder into honey and consume before meals. It is also used to aid in digestion. Additionally, you can drink teas made with sage or a combination of ginger and cinnamon, adding a pinch of freshly ground black pepper to make it more effective.
- MedlinePlus: Nasal Dishcharge
- The Medical Consumer's Advocate: Mucus, Your Best Friend
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Peppermint
- "The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy"; Valerie A. Worwood; 1991
- "The Way of Herbs"; Michael Tierra; 1998