What Does Mucus Membrane Mean?
The mucus membrane is the moist inner lining that covers some organs and body cavities such as the eyes, mouth, nasal passages, middle ear, respiratory tract, lungs, and stomach.
Glands present in the mucosa produce mucus, which is a lubricating, thick, slippery fluid that keeps the membrane moist. The mucus forms a lining on the insides of these organs, protecting them from being exposed to abrasive particles in the air, bodily fluids, and pathogens.
The mucus membrane is also known as the mucosa.
Safeopedia Explains Mucus Membrane
The mucus membrane can be damaged in many ways, including cuts, burns, scalding, chemical burns, and the inhalation of harmful vapors. Workers who handle hazardous chemicals and substances must use adequate protective equipment, such as respirators and safety glasses.
Functions of the Mucus Membrane
The mucus membrane acts as part of the body’s immune system and has many functions:
- It acts as a barrier against foreign particles and traps them in its sticky mucus, preventing them from contacting the organ
- The lubrication provided by the mucus defends against injury
- The immune cells and natural antibiotics defend against pathogens
- The mucus membrane in the bladder and stomach protects them from the abrasive effects of bodily fluids such as urine and stomach acid
- The endometrium (the mucosa in the uterus) sheds to remove unfertilized eggs and thickens to protect newly released eggs
- The mucus membrane helps break down odors in the nose and nutrients in the digestive system
Layers of the Mucus Membrane
The mucus membranes are made up of epithelial cells that cover and protect connective tissues. under them. It is composed of three layers:
- The epithelium is the surface layer whose epithelial cells secrete thick mucus.
- The lamina propria is a loose connective tissue attached to the epithelium. It is composed of nerves, veins, and protein molecules and carries blood supply to the epithelium. It hosts the immune cells that destroy pathogens.
- The muscular mucosa is the deepest layer and has smooth muscles. It is most active in the stomach and provides a continuous motor function that keeps the mucus membrane in flux helping it to stretch and contract along with other organs of the digestive system.
Occupational Injuries to the Mucus Membrane
Inhaling abrasive particulate matter, such as chemical fumes, silica dust particles, and vapors, can irritate and injure the mucus membrane. It can also be injured by abrasions, cuts, extreme heat, chemical burns, and scalding.
Long-term exposure to silica dust has been associated with the risk of pulmonary tuberculosis and lung cancer. A study of ceramic workers found that most of their nasal cytology showed a rearrangement of the respiratory epithelium, a total absence of ciliated cells, and a significant increase in the number of mucus cells. These changes can cause hyper-secretion of mucus and reduced mucociliary transport, ultimately leading to sinonasal mucus stagnation.