Check the color of the snot inside your next used tissue before throwing it away. As disgusting as it may sound, the color of your mucus—whether it’s clear, green, yellow, or brown—reflects how well you are physically. The meaning of each snot hue is broken down below by doctors.
why the color of snot changes
According to Jonathan Parsons, M.D., a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, snot is composed of water, proteins, antibodies, and dissolved salts, and when you’re healthy, it appears translucent or clear. According to Parsons, the body produces it to maintain the hydration and lubrication of the sinuses and airways, and when irritants like allergens, infections, or pollutants enter the equation, the sticky substance either traps them (changing its color) or alters its composition to fend off the invader.
The meaning of “green snot”
According to Parsons, a viral or bacterial illness is most likely to be the cause of green phlegm. He continues that the type cannot be determined just by appearance, although some typical examples are sinusitis, bronchitis, bacterial pneumonia, and upper respiratory infections (viral). Green snot can also be produced by those with persistent lung conditions as COPD, cystic fibrosis, or bronchiectasis. Asthma and environmental allergies are related to it, according to Parsons.
According to Soroush Zaghi, M.D., a sleep surgeon who specializes in nasal breathing and snoring, the green color itself may be the result of trapped germs. The color may also originate from the body’s protective white blood cell secretions known as myeloperoxidase, which have a green hue if the illness is viral, he continues.
To find out what may be causing the hue shift, Parsons advises speaking with your primary care physician. They may inquire as to how long you’ve been feeling ill, if you’ve been around sick people, and whether you have a fever, chills, or any aches or pains in your muscles. These inquiries will enable your doctor to decide whether you require antibiotics, he or she continues.
Why is yellow snot yellow?
Infection is also indicated by yellow snot. Yellow snot is a collection of protective white blood cell discharges, just like green snot is. In general, the more green something is, the more cells are needed for defense. The fewer, the more yellow.
White snot: What does it mean?
White phlegm or phlegm without much color is a symptom of allergies, asthma, and frequently viral infections, according to Dr. Parsons. Management of chronic diseases may be required depending on the situation. You can probably wait it out if it’s connected to a viral upper respiratory infection, says Parsons. If you have allergies, you might need to consult an allergy specialist, take an antihistamine, or use a nasal steroid.
Why is pink or red snot offensive?
This one is quite simple—blood is frequently mingled with pink or crimson snot. Parsons advises seeking medical attention right away if you cough it up since, in some instances, it may be an indication of an infection or malignancy. It’s concerning if you smoke and you’re coughing up blood, he continues. Before reaching a diagnosis, “your doctor may conduct a more thorough health history and order a chest x-ray.”
On a lighter note, persistently dry nostrils might result in frequent bleeding noses, which can create leaky capillaries that stain snot with crimson.
What does snot that is brown or orange mean?
According to Parsons, “those with particularly severe chronic lung illness can cough up a brownish phlegm.” Patients with cystic fibrosis or bronchiectasis exhibit extremely thick, sticky sputum. The brown color is caused by blood and inflammation, and antibiotics are occasionally needed to treat it. “You could require IV antibiotics or an aggressive regimen to keep things under control if you have very resistant germs growing in your lungs,” he continues.
According to Dr. Zaghi, a brownish orange tint can also be brought on by dust, smoking, or air pollution.
Black snot: What does it mean?
According to Parsons, those who work in coal mines, industries, or who smoke a lot of cigarettes often have snot that has a charcoal or sooty appearance. He advises mask use in dusty or smoky workplaces to prevent this.
Black snot may occasionally signal a serious fungal infection, in which case you should seek medical assistance.
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