How does drinking tea or any other liquid help clear your lungs?

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I’ve always seen people saying “if you have built up mucus in your lungs then drink this or that” but I never really understood that how can a liquid that goes down your throat help to clean/fix/heal your lungs?

and i’m not only referring to mucus that was just an example

In: Biology

7 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Until you reach the epiglottis, lungs and stomach share the same windpipe. Your throat isn’t an open tube- more like a squished tube that contracts like a snake to move things through. When an object hits the epiglottis, it slides over the path to the bronchial tubes (your lungs) to allow food/water to pass to the stomach.

If your lungs hurt due to coughing or other irritation, a great deal of that pain is actually in your esophagus; we ‘feel’ it in our lungs because of a phenomenon called *referred pain*- essentially secondary pain caused by primary pain located proximal to the secondary site. That secondary pain is generally in your bronchial tubes, which we perceive as ‘in our lungs’.

Drinking cold water soothes the inflammation of the primary site of irritation, which eases the secondary site nerve response, hence water making your lungs feel better after a hard coughing spell.

Anonymous 0 Comments

So you’re supposed to breath the hot steam in which might help thin out sticky mucus so your body can remove it more easily, and in general being hydrated also helps keep mucus thin. It’s not really going to “heal” anything but it might make symptoms a bit better while they heal themselves.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you are well hydrated, your mucus is thinner, and thin mucus is good. Thin mucus is easier to expectorate (cough up and spit out). Thick, sticky mucus is more difficult to expectorate.

The body abhors stasis: Everything in our bodies is designed for movement.
When mucus just sits there, it creates an environment for bacteria to breed, as bacteria love a warm, wet, nutrient-filled medium. So not being able to clear one’s mucus would make one more prone to secondary bacterial infections. (Bacterial infections often follow viral infections. For example, when a common cold becomes sinusitis, bronchitis or pneumonia.)

One way our bodies eliminate bacteria from the respiratory system is through the mucociliary elevator. Cells that line our airways have these hair-like projections called cilia. These cilia undulate in a wave-like fashion; and through this coordinated wave-like movement they push foreign material upstream, towards our throat, where we can cough it up and expectorate it. Having thin mucus supports and aids this process. Having thick, sticky mucus impedes this process.

Clear fluids–like water, herb tea and chicken broth–help us to stay hydrated and have thinner mucus.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Another factor so far overlooked is caffeine, which constricts your blood vessels and can help relieve sinus pressure, as well as provide an adrenalin-like kick that can help clear things out. However, it can also make things worse.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Water gets distributed all over the body. It’s not just for the area it has direct contact with. A cold has so many ways to dehydrate you, snot, difficulty breathing through your nose, sweating, and not much of an appetite for anything, including drinks.
A warm drink can help soothe a sore throat, some teas are antibacterial (sage tastes gross but works), honey is too, but not quite in the doses you’d use in tea.
An expectorant needs something to work with. Can’t liquefy mucus when there’s no spare liquid. They cut the long molecule chains holding mucus together, but now it’s still just sitting there, still too dense for the cilia to move upwards and out.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You *see* people *say*? Do you also hear them look? 😛

Anonymous 0 Comments

Here is the physiological answer, but it isn’t ELI5. Caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine) is closely related to theophylline (1,3-dimethylxanthine). Theophylline is used in the treatment of COPD, asthma, and infant apnea. Your body will naturally convert caffeine to theophylline as the plasma concentration rises.