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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:

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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].

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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.

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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.

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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

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Ana Erkic

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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