What Your Snot Can Tell You


What Your Snot Can Tell You. Ever wonder what the color of your snot means. It can tell you a lot of things. 

What Your Snot Can Tell You. Ever wonder what the color of your snot means. It can tell you a lot of things.

Snot is mucus from your nose. Typically, mucus is clear and thin and not noticeable at all. When someone gets sick with a cold or an infection, the mucus can become thickened and changes color.

Clear snot is normal. It consists of water, salts, antibodies and other immune system cells. After being produced in the respiratory tract, most of it goes down the back of the throat and is swallowed. Thin and watery snot is usually normal and indicates a healthy respiratory tract.

Brown snot may indicate possible bleeding, and if so, is likely to be caused by bleeding that happened a while ago. Bright red or pink phlegm means the bleeding has happened more recently.

Black snot may indicate the presence of a fungal infection. Someone who has black snot should contact their doctor immediately, especially if they have a weakened immune system.

White snot signals nasal congestion. When the nasal cavity is congested, the tissues are swollen and inflamed, which slows the passage of mucus through the respiratory tract. When this happens, the snot becomes thicker and cloudy or white.

Yellow snot suggests that immune cells are starting to work at the site of the infection or another type of inflammatory insult. You might have heard that yellow or green snot is a clear sign that you have an infection, but despite that common misconception, the yellow or green hue isn’t due to bacteria. When you have a cold, your immune system sends white blood cells called neutrophils rushing to the area. So that can be a good sign.

Thick Green snot can point to an infection, antibiotics are not always needed. Most infections that lead to green phlegm are viral and usually resolve without treatment within a few weeks. A thick and dark yellow snot may be a sign of a viral or bacterial infection, sinus infection, or lower respiratory tract infection.

A sinus infection may be accompanied by other symptoms like:

  • post-nasal drip,
  • green (or yellow) nasal discharge,
  • aching in your teeth,
  • fever,
  • bad breath,
  • sinus pressure or a headache that worsens when you lean forward or lie down.

Pink and frothy snot can mean that someone is experiencing severe left-sided heart failure, especially when combined with any of the following symptoms:

  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • chest pain

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should head to their local emergency room immediately.


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