The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA

Is there a link between dairy use and mucus production?

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Unless you experience medically diagnosed cow’s milk allergy, it is a myth that milk produces mucus. Consuming milk leads to a sensation related to the creamy texture of milk. The milk droplets generally clump together when they mix with saliva. This leads to a feeling of ‘thicker’ mucus, which can be mistaken for increased mucus production.

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The perception that mucus is produced after you have drunk milk is a myth. Mucus is the film that covers the inside of the alimentary and respiratory tracts, protecting these organs against mechanical, thermal and chemical irritations. Mucus is essential in our bodies, but during an infection (such as a cold), an asthma attack or allergic rhinitis (e.g. hay fever), the body produces more mucus than usual and this can become irritating.

The idea that consuming milk leads to increased mucus production probably stems from sensations related to the creamy texture of milk. After you have drunk milk, an emulsion may temporarily adhere to the thin mucus layer coating the throat. For a short while, this may feel like the mucus in your throat is thicker than usual, possibly because of milk droplets clumping together when they mix with saliva. This feeling of ‘thicker’ mucus can be mistaken for increased mucus production.

Apart from possible increased mucus production seen in cow’s milk allergy, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that normal dairy intake increases mucus production.

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