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Mucus Color

Mucus Color

Every time something goes wrong with our body, it somehow signals us that all is not well. One of these signals is the change in mucus color. Different colors signify different problems. The content that follows will enlighten you on just that.
Gagan Dhillon
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Did You Know?
Contrary to our belief, mucus actually helps to protect the body from harmful germs, dust, pollen, ash and other particles from entering the nose, throat, lungs, ears, and lips.
To understand the different mucus colors and what they mean, you have to think of all the different types of colors that you may have seen. I'm warning you, this is going to be gross, but it's better than looking at a picture of mucus. Our body produces one liter of mucus every day. It is made up of water, cells, salts, and mucin. So think of when you had a running nose, a throat infection and a dry cough. I'm sure words like 'snot' and 'booger' come to your mind. So let us find out what is mucus exactly.
Mucus is an excretion from the mucus membranes which are present in the nostrils, ears, lips, genital area and the anus. Its main purpose is to protect the body from harmful disease-causing agents. In women, the texture of the mucus indicates various stages in the menstrual cycle and is used to ascertain the most fertile and infertile period during the cycle. It is possible to detect a health problem by looking at the mucus color chart.
What Does the Mucus Color Indicate?
Broadly, mucus can be white, green, brown/red, yellow and gray or black in color. Let's have a look at what each color signifies.
White and Clear
Clear white color is a sign of good health, but if a body produces more than the normal amount of mucus which is white in color, then it can indicate a health problem.
  • A running nose with clear mucus can indicate conditions like an allergy, acid reflux disease, or hay fever.
  • Congested sinus can also lead to white, clear mucus discharge.
  • Consuming dairy products can lead to a thick white mucus discharge, too.
If you have a severe cold or sinus infection, choose not to consume any dairy products for a while.
Yellow
Yellow mucus is an indication that the person may have contracted a virus which the body is fighting against.
  • This usually occurs during common cold or sinus infection.
  • Dark yellow mucus in the throat occurs when a person has chest infection like pneumonia, bronchitis etc.
Consult a doctor if the cold, fever, cough, and headache continue to exist.
Green
  • Green color means that the person may be suffering from bacterial infection and a green vaginal discharge is also an indication of an infection.
  • The green phlegm usually develops in those who are suffering from allergies, so watch out for other allergy symptoms as well.
The mucus turns green in color, when the white blood corpuscle -- an important part of the body's defense system -- dies fighting the bacteria. Eventually the bacteria and fungi begin to multiply and cause a swelling. This is when you need to seek help from a professional doctor.
Brown or Red
  • Reddish-pink mucus is common in asthmatics and could also be a sign of bronchitis. It is caused when the nose becomes hot, swollen and begins to bleed.
  • Brown or bloodstained mucus is an indication of an irritated throat. It is most common in smokers.
  • Certain foods and alcohol consumption also cause the mucus to be red- or brown-colored.
  • Pollutants in the air, excessive smoking or second-hand smoking also causes the mucus to turn gray, black or brown.
Treatment
If someone is experiencing a cold or an irritated throat, chances are that there will be colored mucus discharge. These are some measures, that you can take to prevent and treat an infection.
  • Don't swallow the mucus. Eject/spit it out.
  • Refrain from eating or drinking dairy products that could cause phlegm and mucus in the body.
  • Increase the intake of warm liquids that could help ease the throat.
  • Keep your sinus and nasal passage clear. Take health supplements to boost your immune system.
  • If you are suffering from green or yellow mucus, consider taking appropriate antibiotics to fight the infection. Also cut down on alcohol and smoking.
  • It is also very essential to keep the body hydrated to soothe irritation, drink 8 glasses of water every day to prevent dehydration.
  • Take steam treatment, to ease the congestion of mucus in the lungs, as this will help clear the nasal passage as well.
So the next time, you notice a change in the color of the mucus, remember to take action against it accordingly. Remember to consult a doctor if your symptoms last more than 3-4 days or if you develop a foul-smelling mucus or have fever, cough (mucus/saliva mix) and headache.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and does not in any way attempt to replace the diagnosis of a doctor. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.