Fact or Myth: Can the Color of Your Mucus Tell You About Your Health?

This is FACT.

Our nasal tissues are producing mucus around the clock—1.5 quarts a day, in fact! Most of this nasal mucus travels back down the throat. Mucus helps keep our nasal passages moisturized so they don’t become irritated by the dry air we breathe in.

You probably don’t make it a practice to peek at the color of your mucus after blowing your nose…but you may want you to start. The color of your mucus can give you clues about your health.

Young blonde female blowing her noseMaking the Most of Your Mucus

Let’s break down the color of your mucus and what it’s telling you about your health.

Clear: Clear mucus is what you ideally want to see. It’s a normal mixture of mostly water, with some proteins, antibodies, and dissolved salt thrown in.

White: White mucus is a sign of congestion. This occurs when your nasal tissues become swollen and inflamed, which clogs up the flow of mucus, drying it out and turning it into a thick and cloudy blob. White mucus may also indicate infection or a viral cold. Keep an eye on it!

Yellow: The infection may have a strong grip if you have yellow mucus. White blood cells are attacking the microbial infection, but once they become war-weary, they’re scooped out with the mucus, staining it a yellow hue. A cold typically lasts from 10-14 days. If symptoms persist, visit your doctor to check for a bacterial infection.

Green: Green mucus indicates a full on immune response. Your mucus becomes packed with dead immune cells. If green mucus persists for more than 14 days or is accompanied by fever or nauseas, a doctor’s visit is in order, as it could be a sign of sinusitis.

Pink/Red: Pink or red mucus indicates blood, which is caused by dry, irritated, and broken nasal tissues. Brown mucus could also be blood, however, it’s more likely something you inhaled (like dirt) that’s staining your mucus brown.

Black: If you’re a smoker or use illegal drugs, your mucus may be black. Likewise, those with vulnerable immune systems may exhibit black mucus. In this case it could be a sign of a serious fungal infection and should be checked by a physician.