Mucous colour: Here's what it says about your health

The sinuses produce snot as a way of protecting themselves from external viruses. In the process snot can turn into different colours, like green, yellow, and white.

Mucous colour: Here's what it says about your health
© Getty/ Aitor Diago
Mucous colour: Here's what it says about your health

It may not be an appropriate conversation starter, but everyone has mucous, otherwise known as snot. In fact, experts say the average person swallows between 500 and 600 cubic centimetres of mucous every day.

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Our sinuses produce the snotty substance as protection against viruses from the outside world. Although it is natural, the colour of your mucous could be indicative of some health problems.

Here is what a brief colour chart of what your mucous may be trying to communicate to you.

What clear mucous says about your health

This is considered normal, or healthy, but symptoms of allergies can also present like this. This type of mucous is composed of water, proteins, antibodies and salts and is produced by your nasal tissues daily, most of which is swallowed, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Clear mucous is normal and healthy. Getty/ Frederick Bass

What white mucous says about your health

This can mean your nose is congested. Basically, when this happens, it means that your nasal tissues are swollen, thereby slowing down the flow of the mucous and causing it to lose moisture. This type of mucous is typically thick and cloudy and can be indicative of an infection or a cold, states.

What yellow mucous says about your health

This is probably the one that most people know for sure isn’t a good sign. It means the virus is gaining grounds, but, it is also a sign that you're fighting back. Ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr Raj Sindawni said:

Yellow or green snot can sometimes mean that you have an infection. But remember that there are other things that go along with that color, of course — including how you’re feeling overall or if you have a fever.
Excessive blowing of the nose can cause blood to appear in the mucous. Getty/ Dani Ferrasanjose

What green mucous says about your health

Now, when your snot changes to this colour, you probably have been battling with the infection for a more than 10 days. Your body is trying fruitlessly to fight back, and it might be time for you to see a doctor and get some antibiotics to kick the bug out of your system. Dr Sindwani explains:

You can also get something called chronic sinusitis, which is a longer-term inflammatory illness, where you’ll have some symptoms of a sinus infection for months

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What pink mucous says about your health

Apart from a nose bleed, blowing your nose repeatedly could also cause a spotting of blood to appear in your mucous. Pregnant women can also experience this bloody snot as a result of hormone, increase in blood volume, or swollen nasal passages, says.

What black mucous says about your health

This might be because you inhaled some debris or, more seriously, could point to a fungal infection, especially if you’re not a smoker. People with compromised immune systems are more likely to experience this. Dr Sindwani said:

Not to be overly alarmist, but there are some fungal infections that can show black snot that can be very, very serious. But luckily they’re exceedingly rare.
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