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What Does My Snot Mean?

Updated on December 18, 2015

Possible Sinus Conditions

Here is a list of possible sinus conditions that may be the cause of your unwanted nasal mucus.

  • Sinusitis- An inflammation of the nasal sinus. Usually due to an infection.
  • Allergies- An allergic reaction to things such as seasonal allergens, to perfumes, or even foods.
  • Common Cold-A common viral infection causing nasal congestion/runny nose, sore throat, fatigue,sneezing, cough. Cannot be cured by antibiotics.
  • Influenza- A viral infection of the respiratory system. Usually causing similar symptoms as the common cold, however, also may include fever, chills and/or body aches. Cannot be cured by antibiotics, however, can be vaccinated against.
  • Nasal Polyps- Soft, noncancerous growths in your nasal passageway. Small polyps may not cause any symptoms at all. While larger ones may irritate the sinuses and cause difficulty breathing through the nose.
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus- A respiratory virus that often leads to broncholitis and/or pneumonia. More commonly found in children.
  • Thyroid Problems- A large gland located in the neck that is responsible for releasing hormones that regulate our metabolic rate.

These are just a few of the possible causes of your sinus mucus.

What Does The Colour of Your Mucus Mean and When to See a Doctor

Colour of Mucus
What is Causing it
How to Treat This Mucus
Normal mucus colour
Swollen and inflamed tissues.Causing thick,cloudy mucus.
Monitor symptoms. Increase fluids. Avoid dairy and allergens.
You are sick and your immune system is working to make you better.
Wait it out. Take cold medications to help symptoms. Increase fluids. See a medical professional if you don't feel better in 7-10 days,or get worse.
Possible infection. Your body is working hard to fight off this illness.
If you do not start to get better in 7-10 days or develope a fever see a medical professional. Antibiotics may be needed.
Blood Streaked
Possible trauma to mucus membrane.
See medical professional if does not improve in a few days.
This is blood. May be from trauma, dry conditions, foreign bodies, ect.
Seek medical attention if you are bleeding heavily and can not get it to stop. Seek medical attention if a foreign body is stuck in a mucus membrane such as the nose.
Old, dried blood. Or irritants such as dirt.
Avoid any irritants.
Smoking, drug use, or serious infection.
If you don't smoke or use drugs please seek medical attention. If you smoke or use drugs, stop.

Where Does Mucus Come From?

Your body contains multiple mucus membranes naturally. These area's contain glands that produce mucus at all times. These area's include the mouth, nose, throat, sinuses and the lungs. The body uses this mucus for both protection and support. Once the body detects a problem such as a virus or an irritant.One or more of these mucus membranes begin to produce an excess of mucus to try and rid of the unwanted substance or illness.

An excess of mucus in the nose is often called snot or boogers while and excess of mucus in the lungs or the back of the throat is often called phlegm or sputum. Different colours of mucus often mean different things. Your body is trying to tell you something by the colour of your mucus....but what?


What Colour is Your Mucus?

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What Does Clear Mucus Mean?

Clear mucus is a sign of healthy mucus. Mucus primarily consists of water and is therefore normally thin and clear.This mucus is part of keeping your respiratory system healthy.

Most clear mucus that our body creates we don't even notice as it is washed down the back of our throat and dissolved in the stomach. However, when first exposed to irritants or to germs our nasal tissues will begin to produce an excess of clear mucus to try and flush the body of the irritant or illness before changing in colour.

What Does White Mucus Mean?

It is suggested that the normal colour of snot or mucus, is clear. So what does it mean when your mucus turns thick and cloudy or white coloured. There are a couple explanations for white mucus. Here are a few.

  • An illness or oncoming illness such as a cold can cause the mucus to become thick and white. This is due to the lack of moisture in the sinuses because of inflammation of the tissues.
  • Dairy products. Dairy products can cause your mucus to become thick and white as well. Not because they start coming out of your nose. But because they thicken the mucus, making it difficult for it to drain.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)- GERD is when the stomach acid makes its way up into the esophagus. A symptom of GERD is white, frothy mucus.

What Does Yellow Mucus Mean?

Yellow mucus or snot is often associated with a cold or a sinus infection. The reason for it being yellow is that white blood cells (what the body uses to fight off illnesses) go to the site of infection/bacteria/virus/ect. Once these cells die following battle they pile up in the mucus waiting to be carried away (for example you blowing your nose). These piles of dead white blood cells give your mucus a yellow tinge.

Yellow mucus does not necessarily mean that there is an infection present.

A thick yellow mucus may also mean that the air is dry and is drying out your mucus. Causing it to become thick and concentrated. Whatever the reason for your yellow mucus plenty of fluids will help to solve the problem.

If you have other symptoms such as a fever, pain or if your cold is not getting any better or it is becoming worse after two weeks. See a medical professional as you may vary well have a sinus infection.

What Does Green Mucus Mean?

Green snot or mucus is a very good sign that your immune system is hard and work fighting off whatever illness you have come down with. Even though you are sick, your immune system is at work and you are experiencing green mucus. This does not necessarily mean that you have an infection. It does, however, mean that you are sick. Most of these green mucus causing illnesses are due to a virus and antibiotics will not be of any good.

Just like the yellow mucus, green mucus is caused by dead white blood cells that have come to fight off an illness. Some of these white blood cells carry a green protein with them. Therefore, the more green protein carrying white blood cells present at the site, the greener your mucus is.

See a medical professional if your symptoms do not start to clear up or get worse after 7 days. If you are experiencing extreme fatigue and/or fever. These are all signs that you may have a bacterial infection that may require antibiotics to help your body fight off the infection.

What Does Blood Streaked Mucus Mean?

Blood streaked mucus can either be dark or light red/pink in colour. Keep in mind that blood streaked or tinged mucus is different than mucus that contains only blood or the majority is made up of blood.

Most often blood streaked mucus is an indication that there is an irritant in your sinuses, nose or back of throat.This may be a blockage or something as simple as the air in your home being too dry.

If you have other symptoms such as weight loss, fever, persistent cough, ect. Please seek medical attention.

What Does Brown Mucus Mean?

As blood ages and dries up it becomes more brown in colour than pink or red. Therefore, brown tinged mucus may indicate old blood, possibly from a previous irritant or nose bleed.

Brown tinged mucus can also be due to irritants such as smoke, pollution, or dust.Tobacco smoke often will cause brown mucus whether you are a smoker or a non-smoker who has been exposed to tobacco smoke.

Eating certain foods may also change your mucus to a brown colour. Yes, even your snot, not just your saliva. These foods include, chocolate, garlic, or red wine.

What Does Black Mucus Mean?

Black mucus can indicate a serious fungal infection that requires medical attention (usually only occurs in people with compromised immune systems). It may also turn black in colour do to the inhalation of tobacco smoke or illegal drugs. Whether it be purposely or you have been exposed to these inadvertently.

Mucus may turn black in colour due to irritants such as coal dust, dirt or pollution.

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    • blairtracy profile image

      blairtracy 22 months ago from Canada

      Thanks! Yes, snot is honestly not a word I use often. Instead I use the term "nasal discharge". However, snot is the term I hear more often.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 22 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      This hub has good information on the mucous in the body. I guess my objection is calling it snot, but maybe it is a good Internet name. I need to read the article again to get the full benefit and memory of the terms. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Audrey