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1. inflammation of a mucous membrane with increased production of mucus, esp affecting the nose and throat in the common cold
2. the mucus so formed



or catarrhal inflammation, an inflammation of the mucous membranes; they become red, swollen, edematous and form and exude a fluid (exudate). The exudate may be transparent (serous catarrh) or admixed with mucus (mucous catarrh) or pus (suppurative catarrh).

Catarrh may be caused by a bacterial or viral infection—for example, catarrh (inflammation) of the upper respiratory tract: bronchitis, laryngitis, and head cold; or it may be caused by pathogenic fungi—for example, colitis. Catarrh of the stomach (obsolete name, gastritis) develops from improper diet, abuse of alcohol, and smoking.

In acute forms of catarrh, the matter exuded by the mucous membranes gradually decreases and full recovery ensues. Delayed treatment may cause an acute form to develop into a chronic inflammation, which may produce severe irreversible changes in the mucous membranes, including attenuation (atrophy) or disorderly proliferation (hypertrophy) with deterioration or complete loss of function of the affected organ. Chronic catarrh is prevented by prompt and comprehensive treatment of the acute forms.


An old term for an inflammation of mucous membranes, particularly of the respiratory tract.