Mucus Color Meaning

Have you been puzzled by the colors of mucus in their different hues? If you have you are not alone. I used to be there myself

Firstly you should become acquainted with the place where most of the mucus is produced: the sinus cavities. The latter not only generate the viscous substance, but they also act as a crumple zone, resonance box, lighten the head weight. Mucus is vital to keeping us healthy. For example, it: moisturizes the air coming in through the nose, it also traps and helps expel germs, foreign particles, viruses, bacteria and other pollutants; besides lubricating the various parts of our breathing mechanism. So, you see, mucus is not all that bad.

We normally produce up to a quart of mucus daily. We don't notice it because it is thin and runs down well. Once it becomes thick we begin to feel uncomfortable and do notice it. We have a publication that addresses how to prevent and control excessive mucus and deal with its color from a pratical stand point. See below:

Mucus color
Mucus is perhaps the most unwanted marvel in the human body, for it carries on vital functions for our breathing apparatus, yet its loathsome appearance and consistency makes most of us just plain hate it. Without this body secretion, however, our bodies would be miserable, maybe we could not even very well survive the stresses of living without the slimy stuff. Mucus color is produced in part by the kind of cells our immune system re-produce to combat disease, foreign intrusions, etc. This, coupled with other symptoms our body displays, serve to identify the kind of malady or condition we may be experiencing at the time. Sometimes mucus contains fungi which of course can affect the mucus color. Also some foods we eat can produce histamine or mucus and can even give it its color. For example, some have associated white mucus with drinking cow' milk. The physical environment we are in can also affect the production of mucus and its color, For example, dry air can produce a light yellow mucus in some people, smog and smoke another mucus color. The most important thing to remember is that the color of mucus by itself is not sufficient, usually, to determine what is going in the body, we must take into account other signs and symptoms the body is producing, even the environment, in order to arrive at a correct diagnosis. Here is summary of some factors which can affect the color of mucus:

  • The type of cells called into action to combat diseases, foreign particles, etc.
  • The presence of a fungus in the mucus
  • The food we eat
  • The physical environment
    • level of air humidity or lack of it
    • smog
    • smoke
    • dust
  • Whether one smokes or not

Here are the meanings of the color of mucus according to the authorities consulted:

Clear and watery mucus
This is the mucus that is normal and that should be secreted by the sinus membranes continually. It keeps our breathing mechanism functioning correctly and therefore it is produced abundantly--one to two pints per day. Sometimes its production is so abundant that we drip it through the nose. This can be a sign of: an irritation caused by an allergic reaction to the environment or from a cold virus. It could also be associated with rhinitis--hay fever. But sometimes it's just a reaction to a temporary irritation that soon may go away by itself. Other signs or symptoms should be taken into account before deciding if its abundance has any real significance.

Green mucus
It can be an indication of a bacterial infection. Especially if the green nasal mucus is accompanied by fever and pain and it has been experienced for several days. A bacterial infection under those circumstances should be addressed by a physician who would probably recommend an antibiotic. Otherwise the infection could linger on for days or weeks. Green mucus can also be a sign of bronchitis, if one or more of the following is present: coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath after non-vigorous physical exercise, wheezing, discomfort in the chest area.

Yellow mucus
Coughing up yellow mucus can be a sign of a sinus infection, especially when the color changes to a dark yellow. It can also be a sign of bronchitis if it is accompanied by the symptoms already described for bronchitis under Green mucus, above. Yet when the air is very dry some persons produce a light yellow mucus. This latter situation can easily be corrected by the use of a room humidifier which is readily available in many department stores. Sometimes yellow mucus can follow a bout with sinus pressure, if the mucus has stagnated and a sinus infection has set in.

Pink mucus
By pink is meant a pink-tinged mucus. Mucus having this color should be regarded as a sign of a potentially serious condition. If the pink-tinged mucus is accompanied by:

  • fatigue, weakness
  • sudden weight gain from fluid retention
  • lack of appetite
  • swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
  • decreased alertness and lack of concentration
  • shortness of breath when lying down or after exertion
  • persistent cough with the pink-tinged or white mucus
  • rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • lessened ability to exercise
  • swollen abdomen,

it would be considered as one of the symptoms of chronic heart failure.

On the other hand, if some of the above symptoms would appear suddenly, then it would probably be deemed to be symptoms of acute heart failure.

Frothy mucus
It can be caused by a disease called: gastroesophageal and also by accumulation of fluid in the lungs called lung edema and by pneumonia; a doctor should be seen.

Gray mucus
Often produced by regular and marijuana smoking and air pollution

Blood mucus
Producing a little blood-tinged sputum (saliva mixed with mucus) is not uncommon and some authorities indicate that it usually isn't serious. On the other hand, coughing up blood can be caused by a variety of lung conditions. Whenever blood is being coughed up in large quantities or the blood is being coughed up frequently, emergency care should be given by calling 911 ( in the USA) or otherwise seeking urgent medical care.

Brown mucus
Such things as:

  • smoking
  • chocolate
  • chronic bronchitis
  • blood
  • smog, dust inhalation

White mucus
While rather uncommon it,

  • can be caused by the use of milk or other dairy products, especially when one has sinus congestion or sinus pressure
  • together with some of the symptoms listed under Pink, above, could be an indication of chronic heart failure
  • together with some of the symptoms listed under Green, above
  • could be an indication of bronchitis

Brown mucus

  • Smokers or non-smokers who have been heavenly subjected to tobacco smoke, can have mucus turned into a brown color
  • if the mucus or liquid is yellow-brown or greenish and part of vomit, and it is accompanied by other symptoms such as:
    • severe abdominal pain
    • lump in the abdomen
    • diarrhea
    • fever lethargy
    • dehydration, etc.,

they can be symptoms of intussusception, a serious disorder in which part of the intestine slides into another part of the intestine. This disorder is more common in children than adults.

Black mucus
Such things as:

  • black lung disease--from coal dust
  • smoking tobacco and other substances
  • pulmonary diseases such as:
    • cancer
    • tuberculosis
    • bronchial disorders
  • emphysema
  • bronchitis

While mucus, as we have seen, can be a harbinger of bad health news it nearly always serves a good purpose in preserving health or trying to help eliminate that which is harming us.

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