What Your Mucus Color Says About Your Health

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by Sarah Ferguson

We have all been there. That embarrassing moment when you look in the mirror and you’ve got a booger hanging from your nose. After your cheeks regain their normal hue, there is a great deal you can discover about yourself from that golden (or not so golden) little nugget.

What Does Mucus Do For You?

Mucus, snot, phlegm or booger. Whatever you choose to call it, it serves a very important function to our immune system.

Much like a machine, we need to be well oiled to function and without snot, we would seize up and stop working.

Where does mucus come from? Why is there more of it when your sick? What does the color say about your body?

Mucus producing membranes line the walls of our mouths, sinuses, nose, throat, lungs and even in our gastrointestinal tract. It plays a vital role in protecting these parts against harmful bacteria and keeps them from drying out.

There is a reason most mucus sits closer to our airways. It traps any dust or debris and keeps it from entering our most vital organs like our lungs and heart.

Not only is it a sticky trap, but mucus contains powerful antibodies that help protect against invading bacteria and virus, enzymes that destroy foreign particles and proteins that make the surface of these pathways almost impossible to live in.

When you are healthy, your body produces up to 1.5 litres of this gooey stuff every day, most of which you never really notice. Sometimes the mucus can be thicker if certain environmental conditions change, and that is when you are more prone to feeling it in your throat and nose.

Ever eat a pound of hot wings? You may have noticed your nose start to run. Spicy foods can trigger what is called histamine, which throws your body into overdrive, producing more mucus as a protective mechanism.

What Its Color Tells You About Your Health

When it comes to the color of your mucus, don’t believe the hype. Green or yellow snot may not necessarily mean you have an infection. The darker color does not indicate bacteria but is a response to the greenish colored enzyme in the white blood cells that attack a cold.

Brown or dark red splotched snot could simply be from irritation just inside the nose, but if there is a large amount of bright red, contact your doctor.

It is better to have it then to not.

Although snot is undoubtedly icky, the fact of the matter is it’s a necessary evil. Without it, our bodies would be open to all kinds of infections and disease. An allergic reaction which causes a runny nose is your body fighting for you.

It is true that you can spread a cold from touching your runny nose and not washing, so remember to keep your phlegm to yourself and use a tissue when you sneeze!