Snot comes in many colors and can tell you about your health

Snot comes in many colors and can tell you about your health

Very few people talk about these things, but let’s break this taboo.

The mucus in your nose performs many functions. Its color can tell you and your doctor a lot about what’s going on in your body, especially when it’s been an abnormal color for a long time.

You should know that the color of snot is not enough to diagnose anything.

Still, it offers unique insight into your body’s weird ways of telling you something’s wrong.

Snot color chart.  See the original Business Insider article for an accessible text version

Clear snot means everything is fine

Clear mucus is completely normal. The body naturally produces a lot of mucus

Snot is a mixture of protective proteins and salts, with water. It keeps your nasal passages lubricated and germ-free by acting as a moisturizing barrier against dehydration and foreign bodies, including bacteria and viruses.

Anything you breathe in can stick to mucus like fly paper. Tiny hairs in the nose push mucus through the throat to the stomach, where all the nasty bugs can be melted away by stomach acid.

But it’s not just found in the nose. This gel covers all the moist surfaces of your body, including the nose, but also the lungs, sinuses, mouth, stomach, intestines and even the eyes.

Having a bit of clear mucus in your nose is nothing to worry about. But if the amount increases significantly, it may mean that you suffer from allergies or have the onset of a cold or flu.

White snot means an infection could be occurring

White mucus can mean a lot of different things.

More often than not, this means that your nasal passages are irritated and swollen, which restricts the flow of mucus and dries it out.

It can also be due to a nasal infection, allergies, or dehydration.

When immune cells fight off anything that irritates the nose, they release molecules that give mucus that cloudy texture.

Your nose may become very runny at this stage. This is when you would probably be most contagious.

Although this is a common myth, research suggests that milk does not make snot cloudier.

Yellow snot means you’re probably fighting an infection

When you have an infection, your immune system’s white blood cells rush to the site to fight and destroy the microbial invader, whether it’s bacteria or a virus.

After they’ve done their job and died, the white blood cells are flushed out of your body along with your mucus and in the process can stain it yellow.

Yellow mucus doesn’t mean you need antibiotics – the body deals with infections all the time and is very good at fighting them.

An infection could also be caused by a virus, in which case antibiotics would be unnecessary.

At this point, you might want to wait and see if things improve over the coming week.

Green snot also means you are probably fighting an infection.

Your mucus may also turn green from a large buildup of dead white blood cells.

If your mucus has been green for a few weeks or more, you should see your doctor, especially if you have a fever or nausea.

Pink or red snot means there is blood in the nose

Red or pink mucus means there is blood in the nose.

It results from a number of things, including allergies, infections, and a lot of blowing or rubbing. Physical trauma — like walking face-to-face against a wall — can also turn your snot red.

It can also simply mean that the air is very dry.

The brown snot could be dried blood. Or maybe you sniffed some dirt.

When blood from your nasal lining dries, it can mix with mucus and turn brown.

But brown mucus is not always due to blood. It can also be caused by dirt, dust, discoloration from cigarette smoke, snuff or a spice.

If you are coughing up brown mucus you should see a doctor as this could be a sign of bronchitis.

Black mucus is usually due to smoking

Black mucus is more common in heavy smokers, especially if they have lung disease.

It can also be due to inhaling dirt or dust; or after smoking cigarettes or marijuana.

But it can also signal a serious fungal infection, especially if your immune system is weakened.

If your mucus is black for no apparent reason, you should see a doctor. This is especially true if you have a fever, chills, or difficulty breathing.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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