It's Snot A Big Deal...Or Is It?

Mucus isn’t exactly something most of us think about. In fact, it’s likely you don’t even pay attention to it. That is unless you have a dreaded stuffy or runny nose, then you can’t stop thinking about it.

It may surprise you to learn that your nose isn’t the only place your body produces mucus. Your mouth, nose, throat, sinuses and lungs all produce mucus. And while mucus may be a little icky, it has a powerful role in protecting and supporting your body.

You may be wondering, what exactly is mucus? Well, it’s actually just a gooey combination of water, proteins, anti-bodies and sugars. When things are running smoothly, our mucus drains down our throats without us even noticing.

When our noses become overwhelmed with bacteria, a virus or even an allergen, that’s when we get all stuffy or runny. But before we get into the nitty gritty of snot, let’s take a closer look at where it all begins—the nasal passages.

The Power of Pink

When you pull the tip of your nose up and you see the inside of your nasal passages, you should see pink, the same color as healthy gums.

If you see blue or pale nasal passages that also appear swollen, it’s likely that you have allergic rhinitis. This is an inflammation caused by a nasal allergy. If this is the case, you likely have clear-to-white mucus, too.

If you see more red nasal passages accompanied with thick and yellow mucus, it’s likely that you have a cold or flu bug. You may also notice other symptoms that affect the ears and throat.

If you have a fever, with tenderness around the bridge of your nose and at the top of your cheeks, it is likely that the infection has invaded your sinuses.

More about Mucus

While mucus may be icky, it can say a lot about your overall health. Here are what the different colors mean for you:

Clear: This most likely means you’re normal. Mucus is usually clear because it is primarily water. Keep in mind that just because you have mucus, doesn’t mean you’re sick. After all, your nose does produce it 24/7.

White: This most likely means you’re congested. Oftentimes nasal infections or colds can make your nasal passages inflamed and swollen, which slows down the flow of mucus. Eventually this causes mucus to become thicker, giving it a whitish appearance.

Yellow: This most likely means you do in fact have a nasal infection or cold. To help fight off the germs, your body’s infection defense is kicking in. One of the key ways your body fights infection is with white blood cells. These cells are often caught up in the surrounding mucus, giving it a yellowish appearance.

Most colds will last anywhere from 10 to 14 days, so don’t be alarmed if your mucus remains yellow during that time.

Green: This most likely means your immune system is really attacking the infection. Dead infection-fighting cells are what’s turning your mucus green. If symptoms have persisted for more than 12 days, it’s time to see your doctor.

Pink or red: This is likely because your nasal passages have become irritated and dry. The result is blood from broken nasal tissue.

Of course there’s a chance that your mucus could have a surprising color not listed above. If you notice anything irregular, like black mucus, it’s important to see your doctor right away.

With experienced doctors, an extensive number of specialties and the latest treatment options, Gwinnett Medical Group can offer the comprehensive care you need. Whether it’s a question about mucus, care for a flu bug or something more serious, our dedicated medical team is always prepared to help.

If you need urgent medical care, ChoiceOne Urgent Care, a partner of Gwinnett Medical Center is available to care for you and your family 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 


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