Mucus plug, the excessive secretion of slippery substance produced by the cells lining the airways of the lungs, is a result of various respiratory conditions that exhibit mucus hypersecretion. These include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease defined by long term obstruction of airflow in the lungs and cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the cells that externally secrete substances in the body, according to a study published by “Respiratory Care” in September 2007.
Airway obstruction is one of the most common sequelae of mucus plugs which can lead to fatal attacks in patients with bronchial asthma and other diseases that cause hypersecretion of the cells that line the bronchial tubes according to the aforementioned study published by “ RespiratoryCare”. Obstruction of endotracheal tube or respiratory tube by mucus plugs can also cause sudden respiratory compromise and arrest in very morbid patients hooked in respirators, according to a study published in 2009 by the “Chinese Medical Journal." Prompt suctioning is needed to remove the mucus plugs that may possibly block the airway of these patients 2.
Side Effects of Being Intubated
Atelectasis, or localized obstruction of the lungs that may result from mucus plug obstruction, can occur resulting to the collapse of a portion of the lungs. This is enumerated by the study published by “Respiratory Care” in September 2007. The direct morbidity is due to transient decrease in oxygen supply to the lungs leading to decrease oxygen delivery to the other parts of the body. The middle portion of the right lung is the most commonly involved lung portion in atelectasis. Bronchoscopic removal of the obstructing mucus plug is essential in the management of patients of severe ateletasis.
- Atelectasis, or localized obstruction of the lungs that may result from mucus plug obstruction, can occur resulting to the collapse of a portion of the lungs.
- The middle portion of the right lung is the most commonly involved lung portion in atelectasis.
The flow of air during inhalation and exhalation within the lungs can become limited in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients due to partial obstruction of the excessive mucus plugs in the airway according the aforementioned study released by “Respiratory Care." This can result to severe episodes of coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and frequent respiratory infections.
Side Effects of Being Intubated
Complications After a Biopsy of the Lungs
What Is Apical Pleural Thickening?
Causes of Low Blood Oxygen Levels
What Are the Causes of Infiltration of Lungs?
Ventilator Breathing Complications After Surgery
Confusion & End Stage of COPD
What Are the Adverse Side Effects of Magnesium Citrate?
Side Effects of Adenoidectomy
Mucus-Producing Lung Diseases
- “Respiratory Care”; Mucoactive Agents For Airway Mucus Hypersecretory Diseases; Rogers, D.F; September 2007
- “Chinese Medical Journal”; Delayed endotracheal tube obstruction by mucus plug in a child; Fu-shan, X et al.; 2009
- Mayo Clinic: COPD
- Poole P, Chong J, Cates CJ. Mucolytic agents versus placebo for chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(7):CD001287. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001287.pub5
- Rubin BK. Secretion properties, clearance, and therapy in airway disease. Transl Respir Med. 2014;2:6. doi:10.1186/2213-0802-2-6
- Ma J, Rubin BK, Voynow JA. Mucins, mucus, and goblet cells. Chest. 2018;154(1):169-176. doi.10.1016/j.chest.2017.11.008
- Asti L, Bartsch SM, Umscheid CA, Hamilton K, Nachamkin I, Lee BY. The potential economic value of sputum culture use in patients with community-acquired pneumonia and healthcare-associated pneumonia. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2019;25(8):1038.e1-1038.e9. doi.10.1016/j.cmi.2018.11.031
- Dunican EM, Elicker BM, Gierada DS, et al. Mucus plugs in patients with asthma linked to eosinophilia and airflow obstruction. J Clin Invest. 2018;128(3):997-1009. doi.10.1172/JCI95693
- Hill DB, Long RF, Kissner WJ, et al. Pathological mucus and impaired mucus clearance in cystic fibrosis patients result from increased concentration, not altered pH. Eur Respir J. 2018;52(6). doi.10.1183/13993003.01297-2018
- Morrow B, Zampoli M, Van aswegen H, Argent A. Mechanical insufflation-exsufflation for people with neuromuscular disorders. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(12):CD010044. doi.10.1002/14651858.CD010044.pub2
- Yu Q, Yang D, Chen X, Chen Q. CD147 increases mucus secretion induced by cigarette smoke in COPD. BMC Pulm Med. 2019;19(1):29. doi.10.1186/s12890-019-0791-0
- Baraniuk JN, Casado B, Pannell LK, et al. Protein networks in induced sputum from smokers and COPD patients. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2015;10:1957-75. doi:10.2147/COPD.S75978
- Rubin BK, Priftis KN, Schmidt HJ, Henke MO. Secretory hyperresponsiveness and pulmonary mucus hypersecretion. Chest. 2014;146(2):496-507. doi:10.1378/chest.13-2609
Helen Nnama has six years of writing experience. She is a health contributor to TBR Journal, editor of fertility confidential manuals, published poet, and a greeting card writer. She has a B.S. in microbiology, an M.S. in epidemiology, and is an M.D. candidate. A former state HIV/AIDS epidemiologist and NIA fellow at Johns Hopkins, she has research experience with published work.