How to prevent bacteria from invading the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat
A study of more than 1,500 people found that the average person’s mucous-membranes are only about a third the size of a human hair.
And it turns out that the mucus that surrounds our mouths and noses is actually pretty thin.
“People tend to assume that we have an extra volume of mucous and a small amount of food in the mouth,” says David Siegel, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor of oral biology at the University of Washington.
“But our data indicates that we’re actually more like a normal human mouth.
That’s because there’s a very thin layer of mucus on top of the food.
We can’t get any mucous through the mouth because there are a lot of bacteria that live there.”
Siegel and his colleagues collected saliva samples from people who were eating or drinking and analyzed the bacteria and other microbes in the samples.
“We were looking at all the microbial species that were in the saliva and determining what they do,” Siegel says.
“Then we looked at what they could do in the human mouth, and we found that these microbes were pretty ubiquitous.”
Sabin, Siegel’s co-author, is the senior author of the new study and an associate professor of microbiology at the UW.
“The microbes that we find in the blood or saliva are really important to our health because they can be very important to fighting infections,” Sabin says.
And these bacteria can also play a role in the transmission of diseases such as MRSA, which can spread easily through the body’s mucus barrier.
“You could say that our body has a protective barrier that protects us from the environment,” Sinkersays.
The bacteria found in the people’s mouths, noses and throats were found to be very common, especially in people with certain infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.
It turns out these bacteria are also found in a variety of other body fluids and tissues, including saliva, blood and urine.
Siegel also found that they were more common in people who had chronic conditions, including asthma, allergies and inflammatory bowel disease.
The researchers also found bacteria in the mouths of people who didn’t have allergies or inflammatory bowel diseases.
But Siegel points out that these are the only bacteria that were found in people’s mouth that weren’t found in saliva.
“They were only in the nose, mouth, tongue, and mouthwash,” he says.
Sinkes research has also shown that people with allergies are more likely to have a lot more bacteria in their mouths than those with less allergies, and that some people with inflammatory bowel problems have a lower percentage of bacteria in these areas.
“I think the real value of this study is that it shows that bacteria can be found in both the mucosal and the oral environment,” he explains.
“It’s just a matter of how much of the mucosa they’re in.”
Sinkings research has found that in people whose mouths were contaminated with fecal material, bacteria were also found.
So Siegel thinks that it’s important for people to learn about the types of bacteria and to get tested to see if they have any.
“If you have an allergy, you can have an allergic reaction to any bacteria that you’re exposed to,” Sinker says.
But he also notes that the research also found an association between a person’s mouth bacteria and their risk of getting a chronic illness, including obesity and diabetes.
“When you look at the body of research, the bacteria that we found in mouth and mucous are a little bit less likely to cause these conditions,” Sankinsays.
“And it may be a good thing that they’re found in our mouth because we don’t have a way to control them.”
What’s the best way to prevent foodborne illness?
Siegel believes that the most important thing people can do to help fight bacteria and infections in their bodies is to keep a close eye on what they eat and drink, as well as how often they have contact with people who are sick.
“To me, the most effective way to avoid infections is to eat less, especially if you’re sick,” he suggests.
And if you do have a problem with eating, you should limit the amount of processed foods you eat.
“Just like with brushing your teeth, washing your hands, you don’t need to be worried about your food,” Suckers says.
The study was published online in the journal PLOS ONE on January 6, 2017.
Contact Emily Flemming at [email protected]