The snot or mucus changes color and texture from time to time. It mostly depends on the health condition of the individual. Nasal discharge can be of different colors, including clear, green, black, and various other colors in between.
The mucus has the purpose to protect the nose and sinuses from outside things like dust, bacteria, and other environmental dangers, which can be harmful to the nasal tract. But now the question arises why does mucus change color? It is usually linked to what is happening inside or outside the body like a cold, allergies, or any other underlying condition.
Also Read: How Are Allergies and Common Cold Different?
Here is a handy guide to what different colors of mucus indicate-
Colorless Mucus is a normal byproduct of a healthy and well functioning body. Such mucus is made up of water (rich in antibodies), proteins and essential salts. Healthy mucus is produced on a daily basis. The human body also generates clear mucus as a reaction to inflammation or allergies such as Rhinitis, pollen or animal fur. Women might also observe a clear mucus during pregnancy, which happens due to hormonal fluctuations or nonallergic Rhinitis.
White Coloured Mucus
This type of mucus is a common sign of an oncoming cold. The formerly clear mucus may turn to white when the body begins to generate a massive amount of white blood cells (WBCs) to fight the oncoming infection. Due to dehydration in the body, the mucus may also start becoming thicker than usual. The white and cloudy mucus along with congestion mostly indicates a gestating infection.
Yellow Coloured Mucus
Yellow-colored mucus is a symptom of advanced infection. Your body begins to fight against the oncoming infection on its own, by sending an army of WBCs or white blood cells to defend the body. The mucus may turn yellow once the white blood cells are discarded in the mucus as they continue to fight and repel the infection.
Green Coloured Mucus
Green colored mucus signifies the final stage of the body’s fight against infection. The mucus will then turn green and thick due to the accumulation of the dead WBC’s and other waste by-products in the mucus.
Red Coloured Mucus
The mucus can turn to red or brown colored mucus at times. This is due to the presence of blood in the mucus, which is usually caused by nosebleeds. You can prevent this from happening by keeping the nasal passages moist by gently blowing the nose when having a viral infection. You can also keep your nasal passage moist by using steam inhalation or by a humidifier.
Black Coloured Mucus
Black colored mucus can commonly develop in smokers. It can also be a sign of a fungal infection. Black mucus is a symptom of low immunity. It can be due to sinus infections like Chronic Indolent Sinusitis, Allergic Fungal Sinusitis, Fulminant Sinusitis, and Mycetoma Fungal Sinusitis. Smokers or people who use illicit drugs can also have black snot.
The Bottom line
Your mucus can serve as an early warning sign of an approaching viral or bacterial infection. But, the mucus does not always indicate the correct acute illness or of the exact nature or type of the infection. Make sure to consult an E.N.T. specialist, if you have symptoms like fever along with yellow mucus for more than 7 days as it can be a symptom of a serious infection.