What does Mucus Color Indicate?

Kasey James
Kasey James
A sinus problem may be to blame if there is a large amount of clear mucus dripping from the nose.
A sinus problem may be to blame if there is a large amount of clear mucus dripping from the nose.

Mucus can be excreted from several different parts of the body including, the nose, ears, lips, and genital areas. Mucus protects the body from harmful germs, but its color can indicate wellness or a potential problem. Normal mucus color is clear or white, but it could be yellow, green, or brown. Mucus color can help people detect sinus issues or infections in the body.

People who smoke often experience brown mucus.
People who smoke often experience brown mucus.

Clear mucus is most likely a sign that a person is well unless it is a constant drip. If there is a large amount of clear mucus dripping from the nose, it could indicate that there is some kind of sinus problem. Allergies can also cause people to have a nasal drip with clear mucus that can become irritating. If a person is experiencing excessive amounts of mucus, then they may need to see a doctor.

Yellow, green, or brown mucus may indicate an infection and should be evaluated by a doctor.
Yellow, green, or brown mucus may indicate an infection and should be evaluated by a doctor.

Sometimes the color of mucus can change from clear to white. Eating too many dairy products can cause mucus to turn white. It can also look white if a cold or allergies are getting worse. If mucus is becoming thicker, it can often go from clear to white as well.

If the body's mucus color changes to yellow, this may indicate some type of virus. The body may be fighting off the virus, but may also have a sinus infection. A chest infection, such as bronchitis, may cause yellow mucus to show up in the back of the throat. A person who is seeing yellow mucus may want to consult a doctor about a potential virus or infection.

Yellow mucus may indicate a chest infection.
Yellow mucus may indicate a chest infection.

Some viruses or bacterial infections may give a person green mucus. When a person experiences cold symptoms that seem to be getting worse, the mucus may change from yellow to green. Severe allergies can also cause green mucus. The mucus becoming thick and green may cause uncomfortable congestion and sinus pressure.

The mucus color of people who smoke cigarettes is often brown. This is because their sinuses are irritated by the tobacco smoke. Mucus can also look brown or red because it has blood mixed in it. Nasal polyps or irritated nasal membranes can cause blood to mix with the mucus.

The presence of nasal polyps may result in discolored nasal mucus.
The presence of nasal polyps may result in discolored nasal mucus.

Yellow, green, or brown mucus could be a sign of something wrong in the body. Anytime mucus is an off color or extreme, it is wise to see a physician to check for infections. There are many medical treatments for sinus infections, allergies, or other sinus issues that may occur.

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Discussion Comments

istria

This is not the most pleasing subject matter, but the article was very informative. I am getting over one of the worst colds I have had in a while. I ended up going to see a doctor, and I was told that I had a sinus infection. I started getting sick and had a constant clear mucus drip, then over the days, my mucus colors ranged what seemed like a rainbow of colors. I actually had a fever, and I rarely get a fever.

My doctor ended up putting me on a series of antibiotics that last a few days to help my sinuses clear up. I am finally starting to feel better. I now know what to look for when I am getting sick and I will be sure to visit my doctor sooner. Thanks wiseGEEK.

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    • A sinus problem may be to blame if there is a large amount of clear mucus dripping from the nose.
      By: mila_jolie
      A sinus problem may be to blame if there is a large amount of clear mucus dripping from the nose.
    • People who smoke often experience brown mucus.
      By: Jasmin Merdan
      People who smoke often experience brown mucus.
    • Yellow, green, or brown mucus may indicate an infection and should be evaluated by a doctor.
      By: Alexander Raths
      Yellow, green, or brown mucus may indicate an infection and should be evaluated by a doctor.
    • Yellow mucus may indicate a chest infection.
      By: Aleksandar Todorovic
      Yellow mucus may indicate a chest infection.
    • The presence of nasal polyps may result in discolored nasal mucus.
      By: Ilike
      The presence of nasal polyps may result in discolored nasal mucus.