Blowing your nose may temporarily relieve stress, but it’s never a good time as anyone thought. Sometimes — especially when your snot suddenly turns a striking green — it can be nauseating and even a little worrying. So, wouldn’t it be nice to know what the color of your snot means? Like, does it really say anything about your health?
Whatever you see on the tissue, your snot is doing its job. Snot, another name for mucus, is essentially a lubricant that lubricates the eyes, sinuses, mouth, stomach, lungs, and intestines, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“Mucus is actually very important,” Stacey Tutt Gray, MD, director of the Massachusetts Eye, Ear, Sinus Center in Boston, tells SELF. When it comes to mucus in your sinuses, “it heats and humidifies the air you breathe through your nose, so when the air reaches your lungs, it’s a comfortable humidity and temperature,” she explains. Mucus is also involved in your body’s immune system. “It’s our first line of defense against viruses and bacteria that enter the nasal cavity,” she said, because it contains important antibodies that help fight infection. Too much or too little. Too little and your sinuses will be uncomfortably dry. Too many, and it’s snot city – but it actually serves a purpose. Your body will begin to secrete more mucus to trap allergens or bacteria, Justin Turner, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, tells SELF. Therefore, certain health problems, such as certain diseases and allergies, can change the amount, consistency or color of these secretions.
Mucus alone doesn’t make a definitive diagnosis, but it can give some clues about what’s going on. Here’s what the color of your mucus might mean, how to deal with a stuffy nose, and when to see your doctor.
Normal, healthy snot is clear , thin, watery, rich, Erich P. Voigt, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology at NYU Langone Medical Center, told self. “Our bodies produce about a liter of mucus and saliva a day, but we don’t notice normal production.” What is stuff made of? According to Scripps Health, it’s mostly water, along with some protein, antibodies, and dissolved salts. If your nose is clean but more runny than usual, it usually means your nose is working overtime trying to get rid of something your body doesn’t like, usually an allergen or irritant, Raj Sindwani MD, Ear and Nose at the Cleveland Clinic The laryngologist tells SELF. This is a typical symptom of seasonal allergies. “If it’s the start of spring and suddenly your nose gets stuffy and it starts to runny, and it’s pretty clear,” Dr. Voigt says, chances are you have an allergic reaction. Other common seasonal allergy symptoms can include sneezing and itching of the nose, ears, eyes, and mouth, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).
Dr Sindwani said brief periods could be due to irritants in the environment, such as pollutants in the air, certain fragrances or secondhand smoke. Or, according to Harvard Health, a sudden drop of secretions on a cold day may actually be just water condensation as cold air heats up in your nasal passages and flows out of your nostrils.
Excessive clear nasal discharge, along with other symptoms such as cough, fever, or general dullness lasting three or four days, may also signal the onset of a mild upper respiratory virus, Dr. Voigt said. such as a brief cold. In addition to a runny nose and congestion, respiratory infection symptoms include cough, sore throat, headache, low-grade fever, facial pressure, sneezing, muscle aches and fatigue. 1
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Cloudy or white snot
Colorless but cloudy thick Thick nasal mucus (the kind that plugs your nose and doesn’t seem to move no matter how much you blow) signals congestion due to several things. One possibility is a chronic allergy, like you are allergic to dust. “It’s ubiquitous all year round, so you don’t have a runny nose anymore, you just feel stuffy all the time, and the nasal mucus may be thicker and richer than usual,” says Dr. Voigt.