What the colour of your mucus says about your health

White, yellow, green or blood-stained - know what the colour of your mucus means.

We often feel more sniffly in winter – that’s normal – but what does it mean when you blow your nose and the stringy, gooey stuff turns colour? We got the lowdown on different mucus colours and what they mean from Pharma Dynamics.

Why is the colour of your mucus important? The slimy stuff plays an important role in our immune system as it lubricates and moisturises the tissues in our body, allowing us to do essential functions such as swallowing and blinking. It also catches unwanted bacteria, viruses and allergens and flushes them out, while helping our body fight infection by moving antibodies or white blood cells to sites of infection and regulating the body’s microbiome.

  • Yellow mucus is a sign of illness.
  • Green mucus is an indication of infection. The mucus appears green because it contains neutrophils, white blood cells that release a greenish enzyme when fighting infections.
  • Blood-tinged or brown mucus is common with upper respiratory infections. The inside of your nose may become irritated and tiny veins may burst from all the blowing. Having a small amount of blood in your mucus is normal, but excessive bleeding is not!

You should consult your doctor when:

  • You’ve had excess mucus for more than four weeks.
  • Your mucus is getting thicker and increasing in volume.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You’re short of breath.
  • You’re coughing up blood.
  • You’re wheezing.

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