What are vibratile cilia and why is their movement important?
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Ciliary movements are crucial for the health of the nose and respiratory passages as they facilitate the movement of mucus produced by seromucous glands towards the throat for elimination.
But what are cilia and why is their movement important?
The nose and paranasal sinuses are lined with microscopic hair-like projections called cilia, which serve as one of the defense mechanisms of the respiratory system. It is the cilia that, through their movement, propel the layer of liquid mucus covering the respiratory passages.
During inflammation, cilia are among the first to be affected, as their movement slows down and they lose the ability to move in a coordinated manner. This phenomenon, known as mucociliary clearance, describes the self-cleaning mechanism of the airways in the respiratory system.
Effective clearance of mucus is essential for the efficiency of the respiratory system. Inflammatory processes cause various alterations in mucous secretions and a slowdown in mucociliary transport.
This phenomenon occurs in conditions such as the common cold caused by viral infections, allergies, or chronic irritation due to environmental pollution. In such conditions, nasal secretions remain stagnant in the airways for longer periods, promoting the settlement and growth of harmful bacteria.
How to promote the well-being of the nasal mucosa?
Nasal irrigation with a saline solution jet is increasingly recommended both for the prevention and treatment of acute and chronic inflammatory conditions of the nasal and sinus area.
Nasal washes offer many benefits as they allow cleaning of the nasal cavities by removing mucus, crusts, cellular debris, and various airborne contaminants such as common allergens and pathogens, facilitating their expulsion.
Additionally, nasal irrigation has been shown to improve mucociliary clearance and reduce local concentrations of pro-inflammatory mediators such as histamine and prostaglandins, thus moisturizing the nasal mucosa.
Why perform nasal washes?
- They have a mechanical cleaning effect: during inflammation, they play an essential role in promoting the removal of impurities such as allergens, bacteria, and viruses present in the air. In the presence of inflammation, the mechanical action of mucus removal accelerates the healing process, helping to clear the nasal mucosa from harmful agents.
- They restore the defensive function of the nasal mucosa by compensating or promoting mucociliary transport: saline solutions stimulate mucociliary transport, facilitating the coordinated movement of cilia and efficient mucus transport. This is particularly crucial considering the significant amount of mucus produced daily by the nasal mucosa and paranasal sinuses, which can reach approximately half a liter per day under normal conditions. Stimulating this process helps effectively channel mucus towards the throat, contributing to maintaining respiratory tract health.
- They have a eutrophic effect: they promote the natural regeneration of nasal mucosa cells.
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