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"Mucus and Its Many Colors: Help, My Mucus Is Green!" by Hana R. Solomon, MD


In general, mucus is clear, thin, watery and even slimy. If infected with viral, bacterial or fungal particles, mucus normally changes to colors that can include white, yellow, green, brown, grey, or even blood-tinged. Discolored mucus can often have an offensive odor.

Many people assume that if their mucus is clear or white, they are not infected, but if the mucus is yellow or green, they require an antibiotic. This is not true. In fact, when one has a common cold, the mucus progresses from clear to white to yellow to green and sometimes grey or brown and then clears again, all within seven to ten days. If one has persistent (more than three to five days) yellow or green discharge, then a bacterial infection may be present. We now know that even if a bacterial infection is suspected, a good flushing three to four times a day may prevent the need for medications. Only about 20% of bacterial sinusitis cases actually require antibiotics. Yes! Eighty percent of the time antibiotics are not needed!

This is also true for inner ear infections. NOTE: The antibiotic may treat the infection but will not address the original cause of the unhealthy environment. People with asthma experience excess mucus production as part of the asthma inflammatory reaction, particularly in the bronchial tubes but also in the nasal cavity. This mucus is usually white and frothy and blocks or clogs the airways which in turn causes chest tightness, coughing, and wheezing.

Mucus Serves As a Frontline Defense
  • Filters and moisturizes our air.
  • Traps inhaled irritants (molds, pollen, dust mites, animal dander, smoke, ash, pollution).
  • Protects against bacterial or viral invasion.
  • Contains bacteria-fighting substances, including natural antibodies.
  • Contains bacteria-fighting substances, including natural antibodies.
  • Moistens food, making it easier to swallow and pass through the intestine.
  • Smoothes the airway’s linings and traps foreign substances before they invade the lower respiratory system.

Retrieved from "Clearing The Air One Nose at a Time: Caring for Your Personal Filter" by Hana R. Solomon MD, 2013"
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