Advertising
Advertising

How The Color Of Your Phlegm And Snot Says About Your Health

How The Color Of Your Phlegm And Snot Says About Your Health

Phlegm, or mucus, plays an important role in our bodies.[1] Tissues in the body that produce mucus are found in the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. Phlegm has a role to protect these surfaces so that the tissue that lies underneath does not dry out. It also has a preventive role since it traps bacteria and viruses, and contains the enzymes that kill them. Our body normally produces around 1-1.5 liters of mucus every day. While the production of mucus is important to the overall functionality of the body, phlegm that is a different color than the usual healthy clear appearance of mucus, can lead to concerns about our health.

There are certain myths connected to different colors of mucus, however, there isn’t always scientific data to support them. Below is a list of the different colors phlegm can appear as, the myths associated with them, and ultimately, what snot says about your health:

Advertising

Clear

When your mucus is clear, it means you are healthy. In order to keep your mucus healthy, you need to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids to keep your mouth and throat moist. To keep your nose hydrated, rinse your nose with salt water, but not too often since it might have the opposite effect. It is also important to keep the air in your living and working space humid, especially in the winter.

White/gray color

There are certain misconceptions that drinking milk and other dairy products leads to white or gray color of mucus, but there is no scientific data to support this claim.[2] However, it causes the mucus to thicken, thus making it harder for you to expel it. When your mucus is white or gray, it means that it is coming from your sinuses, which normally doesn’t happen. However, when there is an inflammation, it can cause mucus to drain to throat, as Dr. Steve Okhravi, an emergency physician suggests[3].

Advertising

Yellow/green color

Having yellow or green mucus is not always a reason to panic and immediately call your doctor. It may be the sign of an infection, since when an infection occurs, the immune system sends white blood cells which contain a green protein that can color the mucus. However, according to one study[4], it was discovered that yellow or green color is not always a sign there is an infection in our body, since only 46% of the samples collected were culture-positive. In some cases, the yellow or green color of mucus can be a result of seasonal allergies and has nothing to do with viral or bacterial infections.

Dark yellow/brown color

There are several possible reasons for the brown color of mucus[5]. If you are a smoker, the mucus your body produces can have a tendency to be a brown color because of various matters in cigarettes. If you are not a smoker, the brown color of your mucus can be the result of certain types of food you ate or beverages you consumed, such as chocolate, coffee, or red wine. However, if accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever for example, you should seek medical advice.

Advertising

Pink/red color

When mucus is a pink color that means there is a little blood in it. For example, blood can come from blood vessels in your nose. However, a pink/red color may also indicate certain severe conditions[6], such as pulmonary edema (fluid in lungs), tuberculosis, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, and cancer. So, if there is an excessive amount of blood in your mucus and it doesn’t stop, seek medical help.

Black color

Black mucus might mean you inhaled dirt, dust, or smoke, or might be the influence of certain environmental factors. It might also signal there is a chronic sinus infection or fungus, as Scott Stringer, MD, Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center suggests.

Advertising

In order to prevent the mucus from building up and causing complications, you need to stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water and hot liquids a day, and avoid consuming dairy products. In order to loosen mucus, the better choice would be spicy food, which is known to clear the nasal passages. Also, try to blow your nose as often as possible, inhale steam from boiling water, gargle your throat with warm water and salt, and stay away from smoke.

Reference

More by this author

Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

Who Says All Introverts Hate Socializing? Here’s The Truth About Introvert And Extrovert Every Time You Drink A Beer, Remember To Drink The Same Amount Of Water You’re Exceptionally Creative If You See The Correct Image (Only 1/100 People Can Do This!) If You Have These 6 Struggles, You’re Highly Intelligent Who Can Resist Avocado! It Is One of the Most Nutrient Fruit In The World!

Trending in Health

1 The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight 2 Why Am I Exhausted? The Real Causes and How to Fix It Forever 3 How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success) 4 How to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time (And the Real Causes Explained) 5 Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

Advertising

Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

Advertising

Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

    Advertising

    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

    Advertising

    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

    Read Next