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What's the difference between green snot and yellow snot?
December 4, 2006 7:06 AM   Subscribe

What's the difference between green snot and yellow snot?

Someone once told me that yellow snot indicates a sinus infection while green was probably just a cold, but googling isn't turning up a reliable citation for that. In any case, sometimes it's green and sometimes it's yellow -- so something must be different about the process that produces it, right?
posted by winston to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
My doctor told me that when your snot is green it is because of a sinus infection and every time I have had a sinus infection my snot was green.
posted by govtdrone at 7:18 AM on December 4, 2006


Green snot is called purulent rhinitis.
posted by govtdrone at 7:21 AM on December 4, 2006


Mucus is normally clear, but it can be tinged with whatever dust you have breathed in. When it becomes thick and gooey as with an infection that is because it is basically mixed with pus (that is what the word purulent means) The exact color can vary based on the type of microorganism causing the infection; pseudomonas, for example, is known for the blue-green pus it produces.
posted by TedW at 7:34 AM on December 4, 2006


Yellow drainage, or whitish-yellow is also purulent --think pus.

Yellow drainage can be viral and so can green. The change of color from clear to yellow to green can be caused by the course of a common cold. Bacteria may be present in a secondary or sinus infection, but only a culture can tell for sure. Eosinophils play a role in fighting viruses like the common cold and can cause nasal drainage to turn purulent.

If you find yourself with green or yellow drainage, see a doctor if you have fever or if it is prolonged.

All of the above could be total bunk, but this is what I have studied and heard from doctors.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:40 AM on December 4, 2006


As someone with recurrent sinus infections as a teenager, light yellow wasn't the problem - it was when it got dark, bright, or green. Then it was off to the doc for a prescription. (The awful side-effect of all this is that I can no longer blow my nose without checking the tissue.)

The non-phlegm effects of this were also headaches and a sense of sinus fullness, especially under the eyes, the lower part of the cheekbones near the nose, and, in one particularly annoying case, in my ears. That, to me, was the sign that it was definitely time to in for a scrip, even if it wasn't green 'yet.'
posted by cobaltnine at 7:49 AM on December 4, 2006


according to this NIH site, you need to contact a doctor if the color of the discharge is anything other then white or yellow.
posted by jourman2 at 7:53 AM on December 4, 2006


Sometimes my snow (and boogers) smell like sawdust, green ones, but they smell like sawdust. Am I the only one for that?
posted by Jonsnews at 8:00 AM on December 4, 2006


not my snow.. my snot
posted by Jonsnews at 8:01 AM on December 4, 2006


If you've been on the London tube, it's black.
posted by eustatic at 8:39 AM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


you need to contact a doctor if the color of the discharge is anything other then white or yellow

I would love for a real doctor to weigh in on this. Because I can assure you I have had green and brown snot from a cold and not died or had some raging, long-lasting infection.
posted by dame at 8:40 AM on December 4, 2006


I'm not a real doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I can add something my daughter's ENT told me that might be helpful to parents trying to decide whether their child's runny nose is worth a Dr. visit. If your nose is running and you're not good about blowing your nose, then the dirt in the atmosphere can cause the snot coming out of your nose to look green and yucky. This would explain the frequent green and yucky looking snot coming out of my daughter's nose who, even now at 9, still believes that blowing your nose is about the worst possible thing a person could do. So, when I see it, I make her blow her nose and I clean up her face. When she was a baby, it would take the appearance of green mucus to mean it was time to pull out that little blue torture device that vacuumed out her nose (I forget the name of it) and go to work.

On the other hand, my daughter did get frequent sinus infections so I learned that yellow mucus or green mucus along with a fever or her holding her hand to her forehead (from pain caused by clogged sinuses) was a sign that it was time to go back to the doctor and have her checked out.
posted by katyjack at 8:53 AM on December 4, 2006


This is gross, but I can tell when a cold is getting better by the taste of my mucus.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:01 AM on December 4, 2006


Yellow snot is hypersnot.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:38 AM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


little blue torture device that vacuumed out her nose

referred to as a snot-sucker among my friends with kids, though I have no doubt the package is much less descriptive (and entertaining)
posted by timepiece at 11:37 AM on December 4, 2006


katyjack writes "that little blue torture device that vacuumed out her nose"

That's a "booger snatcher."
posted by chiababe at 12:17 PM on December 4, 2006


That's a "booger snatcher."

We always called it the "snorker". Best baby invention ever - well, after diapers.
posted by GuyZero at 1:02 PM on December 4, 2006


little blue torture device that vacuumed out her nose
That's a "booger snatcher"
We always called it the "snorker"

You'll have better luck finding one at a drugstore if you look for a box that says 'bulb syringe.'
posted by lambchop1 at 2:57 PM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Or nasal aspirator.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:28 AM on December 5, 2006


everything2 has some good info
on snot color

posted by kneelconqueso at 11:46 AM on December 5, 2006


dame, I think the sense of it is that if the discharge is clear or yellow, there's no reason to call the doctor. But if it's otherwise, there may or may not be reason to involve the doctor -- but you don't know until you do.
posted by winston at 7:41 PM on December 9, 2006


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