Your mucus, which is produced by your nose, is responsible for keeping your nasal passages moist so that the dry air your breathe in gets moisturized too. It is usually made up of water, dissolved salts, and proteins. If you are a healthy individual, its color should be clear, but if it’s anything but clear, it could be an indication of a health problem. You can check the color of your snot by simply blowing it into a plain handkerchief. Here are some of the things the color of your mucus can indicate.
1. White Mucus
Having white and opaque mucus is different from having a clear one. White mucus indicates congestion. You may be down with a cold or may have a nasal infection. The tissues in your sinuses could be swollen or inflamed, slowing down the flow of mucus and causing it to lose its moisture, which results in your mucus becoming thick and cloudy.
To get rid of congestion, the trick is to keep yourself hydrated. You should drink plenty of fluids and use a humidifier in your room or use a nasal saline spray.
2. Yellow Mucus
If you have been down with a cold or a nasal infection for quite some time, your mucus can turn yellow. This means that the white blood cells in your system have rushed to the site of infection to fight the foreign intruders that are causing you to suffer. Once the white blood cells have done their part, they remain in the mucus and give your mucus a yellowish or orange tinge.
The best thing you can do is get rest and eat nutritious foods as colds can usually last between 10 to 14 days.1
3. Green Mucus
If your mucus turns green, it means that your immune system is doing all it can to fight off the germs that have infected you. The white blood cells in your system produce certain enzymes when fighting off foreign invaders. These enzymes contain iron, which can make your mucus appear green in color.2
Even with your body fighting so hard, you still don’t see any sign of relief after about 12 days, you should probably visit your doctor. It could mean that you have a bacterial infection that needs medical attention.
4. Pink Or Red Mucus
Pink or red mucus can indicate something much more serious than a nasal infection. It could indicate nasal tissue tear due to trauma or dryness, and it may be ending up in your mucus.
If you feel some kind of irritation in your nasal passages along with the pink or red mucus, get it checked by a doctor to be on a safe side. While it may not be serious on its own, any open sores in the nasal passage are prone to infection. Getting it treated in time can prevent complications.
5. Brown Mucus
If some blood ends up in your mucus, it can end up turning brown. Brown mucus may also mean that you may have inhaled dirt, paprika, or snuff.
If you are confident the red color of your mucus is not because of something you inhaled, you should get it checked by your doctor. If it’s blood that has ended up in your mucus, the doctor will examine you thoroughly to find the cause and will prescribe a suitable treatment for it.
6. Black Mucus
If you use illegal drugs or if you are a heavy smoker, black mucus could be an indication of a serious fungal infection. This is common in people with a compromised immune system.3
You should get it looked at by your doctor as having black mucus is quite concerning. Getting to the source of the cause can help you get the right treatment.
|↑1||Altiner, Attila, Stefan Wilm, Walter Däubener, Christiane Bormann, Michael Pentzek, Heinz-Harald Abholz, and Martin Scherer. “Sputum colour for diagnosis of a bacterial infection in patients with acute cough.” Scandinavian journal of primary health care 27, no. 2. 2009.|
|↑2||Don’t judge your mucus by its color. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑3||Cohen, Yehuda Z., and Wendy Stead. “Exophiala pneumonia presenting with a cough productive of black sputum.” Case reports in infectious diseases. 2015.|