If you’re feeling under the weather, don’t underestimate the power of your snot! That’s right, the colour of your nasal mucus can provide valuable insights into your health. A report from news.com.au explains that any change in the colour of your snot, according to Dr Raj Sindwani, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, could signal various problems. From allergies to infections, your snot could hold the key to discovering what else is happening with your body. So, what do the different colours mean? Let’s find out!
The Role of Nasal Mucus in the Body
The nasal mucus, commonly known as snot, is a gel-like substance produced by the nasal cavity. It is a combination of the following:
- dissolved salts
This traps and filters out foreign particles like dust, allergens, and bacteria. The role of nasal mucus is to protect the body by preventing these particles from entering the lungs and causing damage. It also keeps the nasal cavity moist, essential for proper functioning. The mucus is moved to the back of the throat by tiny hair-like cilia in the nose, where it is ingested and safely dissolved in the stomach. Therefore, nasal mucus is an important part of the body’s immune system and is necessary for maintaining good respiratory health.
Understanding the Different Colours of Snot and Their Meanings
Each colour indicates something about a person’s health:
Clear mucus is considered the normal range and is not usually a cause for medical concern. It serves as a protective barrier against viruses and bacteria that enter the nasal cavity. To flush out the virus or bacteria, the body creates extra mucus.
White mucus is often an indication of a nasal infection or cold by way of congestion and a swollen nose. Tissue inflammation results in a slowed flow of mucus, which exhibits a much thicker and cloudier texture.
Mucus that begins changing colour is a sign that a cold or some other infection is worsening. White blood cells cause a yellow tint as they fight an infection.
When mucus turns green, it’s often because of dead white blood cells thickening things up. It is advised for those sick for more than 10 to 12 days to contact a doctor, as the bacterial infection sinusitis might be at play.
Pink or red mucus
When mucus turns into a hot colour like pink or red, nasal tissue has broken within the nose. Some cases might be dryness or irritation, but others are more severe.
Black mucus is quite a concern, and it could be a sign of breathing in something like debris at a workplace that might be collected in the mucus of your nose. Some fungal infections can show black snot that can be very serious.
Nasal Mucus with Other Symptoms to Watch Out for
Aside from changes in the colour of nasal mucus, other symptoms may indicate a more serious underlying condition. These include:
- difficulty breathing
- persistent coughing
- facial pain or pressure
- changes in the sense of smell or taste
If you have these symptoms and discoloured nasal mucus, you should seek medical assistance to rule out any potential health problems. It is also essential to remember that the severity and duration of symptoms can vary from person to person and may depend on factors such as age, overall health, and medical history.
Complications from Discoloured Mucus
Several complications can arise from discoloured mucus, depending on the underlying cause. If left untreated, an infection can spread to other body parts, causing more serious health problems. Chronic sinusitis can also lead to complications such as developing nasal polyps or a deviated septum. A bacterial infection may sometimes lead to meningitis or other serious neurological conditions. Additionally, if the mucus is black or red, it can indicate a more serious underlying issue, such as a fungal infection or injury to the nasal tissue.
How to Maintain Healthy Nasal Passages
To stay healthy and prevent conditions that can cause discoloured nasal mucus, it is pertinent to practice good hygiene habits such as:
Wash your hands frequently
Handwashing is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to keep germs at bay. After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose, and before eating or preparing food, use soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Cover your nose and mouth
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when you cough or sneeze. This helps to prevent the spread of droplets that can contain germs and infect others.
Avoid touching your face
Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth can transfer germs from your hands into your body, increasing your risk of illness.
Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces
Germs can linger on surfaces for hours or even days. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and countertops.
Practice social distancing
Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others, especially if you are in a busy or poorly ventilated-place. This can help to prevent the transmission of germ-containing airborne droplets.
Also, remain hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoid irritants such as tobacco smoke and pollution.
Furthermore, a good diet and regular exercise can strengthen the immune system and lower the chance of infection. To avoid complications, get medical attention as soon as you notice any symptoms.
Importance to First Aid Practitioners
Knowledge of the colour of nasal mucus is crucial for a certified first aid practitioner because it can provide valuable information about a patient’s health status. By observing the colour and consistency of nasal mucus, a first aid practitioner can identify potential infections or health conditions, which can help them decide how to respond to a medical emergency.
CPR First Aid RTO NO. 21903 is an organisation in Australia that provides CPR and first aid qualification courses to individuals and businesses. By taking these courses, participants can learn how to respond to emergencies, including respiratory distress.