It is a perfectly human instinct to check our own body fluids for evidence of what is going on there. You may know that her poop pee menstrual blood and vaginal discharge can provide valuable information about your health. But have you ever blown your nose and immediately googled something like "color of snot color"? Yes, we too.
It turns out that you can actually learn something from the dripping content of your nose ̵
"Color is important, but is it consistency and quantity," Raj Sindwani an ENT specialist at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. Here's what you should know about your snot or nasal mucus, as the professionals call it, and what it can mean.
What does normal snot look like?
Normal, healthy snot is clear, thin. Watery and Plentiful, Erich P. Voigt, MD Associate Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Langone Medical Center NYU, tells SELF. "Our body produces about 1 liter of mucus and saliva every day, but normal production is not noticed." What does the stuff consist of? Mostly water, with some proteins, antibodies, and dissolved salts, is also widely underestimated by Snot, according to Cleveland Clinic
because it tends to fly under the radar until something goes awry. "It's actually a really important part of our body," says Dr. Voigt. Without them we would be much more susceptible to infections and irritations. "It's a protector of our respiratory system," says Dr. Voigt. "Everything we breathe is filtered by this slime." This slime traps particles (such as dust or smoke) and contains anti-infective antibodies that kill pathogens (such as a virus or bacteria) before we inhale them before they get the chance have to make us sick, says dr. Voigt. Nasal mucus moisturizes and warms the air we breathe, so it has just the right temperature and humidity, and before it gets into the lungs, Dr. Sindwani.
So if the nasal mucus is abnormal, it may indicate that something is happening. Let's take a look at the rainbow of snot-color meaning, right?
If your snot is clear, flowing and more abundant than usual …
A noticeable increase in the flow of pretty normal-looking mucus often means your nose is working overtime to try and get rid of something your body does not like, usually an allergen or an irritant, says dr. Sindwani. This is a classic symptom of seasonal allergies . "When spring starts and suddenly your nose becomes stuffy and running and clear", it is likely that you are allergic, says dr. Voigt. This is usually combined with other symptoms, says dr. Sindwani, like itchy eyes or sneezing. Treating the allergic reaction with something like antihistamines should help to limit the flow and relieve your other symptoms. If you feel miserable every day, you should consult your family doctor or a allergist .
Runniness, which is sudden and short-lived, may be due to other elements in the environment. You may be dealing with exposure to irritants, such as pollutants in the air, certain fragrances or second-hand smoke, Dr. Sindwani. Or the sudden dripping outflow on a chilly day could actually be just condensing water, as the cold air in your nasal passages warms up and your nostrils leak out, according to the Cleveland Clinic .
Excessively clear villous pair with other symptoms, such as coughing, fever, or generalized feeling of blisters hanging around for three or four days, may also signal the onset of a mild upper respiratory virus, such as a short cold Voigt. You can often treat yourself with OTC cold remedies, but if you feel worse or do not get better after a few days, see your doctor.
If your snot is cloudy and thick …
Colorless, thick nasal mucus (the kind that clogs your nose and does not seem to move, no matter how much you blow), signalizes congestion on a few things are due. One possibility is a chronic allergy as if you were dust allergic. "It's all over the year, so you do not feel so crazy anymore, you just feel stuffy all the time and the nasal mucus may be thicker and luscious than usual," Dr. Voigt. Consider an allergic person if this is the case.
Dehydration can also make your snot dizzy. "Mucus reflects the level of hydration in our body," Dr. Sindwani. If the water content is lower, it becomes more concentrated, more viscous and clogged. Fat snot may also appear to have more snot than it does. "People who think they often have too much mucus do not do enough," explains Dr. Voigt, "so it's too dry and does not flow well." If your snot is like molasses, drink it to dilute it.
The third potential situation is that you are at the beginning of an infection that causes the tissue in your nasal passages to become inflamed, slowing the slowing down of their movement of mucus, according to the Cleveland Clinic . Your mucus may even look a bit white at this point. Sindwani.
If your snot is yellow or green …
The general wisdom here is true: Yellow or green snot generally indicates that you have an infection. Each time your snot changes color, it means that you have some type of infection that has triggered an immune system reaction and increased blood flow to the area of inflammation. "There are infection-fighting cells that take the place of this beetle," says Dr. Sindwani. The concentration of these cells, such as white blood cells, can cause the nasal discharge to appear yellow or green, he explains. The hue could also be due to an increase in the enzymes that produce these cells according to the Mayo Clinic
The notion that yellow equals one diagnosis and green another is usually a myth. "The color of the mucus does not reliably distinguish between a viral and a bacterial infection," says dr. Sindwani. "Only the color, [doctors] does not hang our caps on it. It is also important how you feel, your other symptoms and how long it is in the area.
In general, a shorter duration of discolored snot and bad mood is more viral, while persistent infections are more bacterial. "If it is transient and reaches its peak in three to four days and improves on its own, it may be due to a viral infection," explains Dr. Voigt, while prolonged or worsening diseases are more bacterial. At this point you should see your doctor, who usually has to prescribe antibiotics to regain his health.
If your snot is pink, red or brown …
Although it can be alarming to find on your doctor strong white tissue, a few blood stains or a reddish hue in your snot is actually no big deal. "This can happen if there has been damage, trauma or irritation in the nasal feed," explains Dr. Sindwani, "and some tiny blood vessels can break." Nose too hard and too often, which can lead to small tears in the nasal membranes – which are often already inflamed by the infection defense, says Dr. med. Sindwani. It is also quite common in winter, when the air is extremely dry thanks to the interior heating, explains dr. Voight. When these membranes dry out they tend to crust and crack and cause bleeding.
Oh, and brown snot seems somehow repugnant, but usually points to old blood that has been cooling for some time, Dr Sindwani says. "Or maybe you've inhaled some dirt."
However, if you often see a lot of blood in your snot or if you get nosebleeds in your skin, be sure to call a doctor to rule out any major medical conditions. "It could be tumors in the nose or paranasal sinuses, but they are rare," Dr. Voigt.
If your snot is sticky, stinky and discolored …
Some people suffer from chronic sinusitis which makes the nasal mucus very thick and gluey, green or yellow and even a bit funky-smelling, says Dr. Voigt. "This foul-smelling smell is usually the smell of a bad infection or a dry, crusty mucus that has been hanging there for some time," Dr. Sindwani.
A chronic sinus infection may persist for weeks or months, according to the Mayo Clinic and icky snot is a long way from the single unpleasant symptom . You may also experience congestion, shortness of breath, pain and swelling in the sinuses and a coughing fit. If you have an abnormal nasal mucus that can not be cleared over time or with antibiotics, you should consult a specialist such as an ear, nose and throat doctor to find out what causes your symptoms.
If your slime is midnight, you probably have a problem. Black slime can be the result of smoking cigarettes or using illegal drugs, says dr. Sindwani. Residual particles from the smoke and the burning of the substance can form snot.
The other possibility is a life-threatening fungal infection called acute fulminant fungal rhinosinusitis . However, this is extremely rare. Sindwani, and usually occurs only in very sick people with a weakened immune system, for example in cancer patients who receive chemotherapy. And often the microscopic fungal spores are too small and barely visible to the naked eye. The treatment includes emergency surgery and antifungals before the fungus enters the eyes or brain, according to the Cleveland Clinic .