Stupid bronchitis, what is it NOW?
April 20, 2009 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm spitting up black stuff, but not in pain. Gross details inside.

I've had a sinus infection/bronchitis for the past few weeks. I finally got myself to the doctor about 8 days ago, and they put me on antibiotics, which I finished two days ago. I feel a LOT better. yay. But I'm still coughing up phlegm, which is to be expected, I think. Its clear now (vs. being green before. Ew, I know), BUT its got these strands of dark grey/blackish stuff in it. This happened once or twice before the meds and I assumed it was my lungs clearing out tar from the handful of times I've smoked (which I only did once or twice while I was sick and stopped after I realized I was actually, really sick) But its still happening now and there's more greyish stuff this time (though it really only happens in the morning and at night, and not really during the day if I have to spit anything up.)

I really don't think its dried blood or anything - its more grey than black, and I'm not in pain at all. My coughing isn't out of control, either.

So, my questions - You are not my doctor, but should I be worried? My doc's office is closed today (yaaay Boston Marathon) so I'll call tomorrow, but is this the sort of thing that I should go to an ER for (I know I shouldn't care about cost but I really don't want to go if I don't have to - I just don't have that kind of money)

Also, what do you think it could be?

Thanks, all.
posted by Eudaimonia to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Also, if you have health insurance, on the back of your insurance card should be a number for a nurse advice line. They will tell you whether you need to see a doctor or not. Of course, keep in mind that they always want to cover themselves, so they tend to err on the side of seeing a doctor vs. not.
posted by fructose at 7:35 AM on April 20, 2009

I dunno, I always get this when I'm similarly sick. No md has ever panicked over it.
posted by shownomercy at 7:37 AM on April 20, 2009

Not to discourage you from taking this seriously, but is there any way it could just be mascara or eyeliner? That happens to me all the time, and it really freaked me out the first few times, until I wore some blue eyeliner and it came out the exact same shade. It's happened to other people, too.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:38 AM on April 20, 2009

Peptobismo can turn your spit black too.


Also, go to the doctor. Could a many things.
posted by unclezeb at 10:27 AM on April 20, 2009

I too had a case of the snots a while back and had this grey/black strands in what I assume was the shape of my sinuses *blergh*. Mainly gone now though, but still very snotty.
posted by Iteki at 10:56 AM on April 20, 2009

I have had many medical professionals tell me that black flecks in mucous is evidence of minor bleeding, and is only worrisome if it continues for more than 24 hours or gets to be the dominant "theme" in the mucous.

A brief google search turned up at least three websites which say that grey mucous is indicative of infection and might need to be need to be looked at.
posted by hippybear at 12:16 PM on April 20, 2009

I was in the desert for about 3 months once...and I phlegmed black in the morning every day a week after I got there to about a week after I left there.

I think the standard for mefi medical questions should be:

"Would I actually go seek professional medical help if anybody recommends it?"-If the answer is "yes", don't post and go seek professional medical help.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:12 PM on April 20, 2009

Quick update - my doc is in today and I rang him up. He told me not to be too concerned, its probably remnants of my bronchitis and that I should come see him in a week if it continues.

I also wanted to test out the eye makeup theory, since I'd heard it before. I didn't put any on yesterday and lo and behold no black stringy things in my mucus last night or this morning. I know correlation doesn't equal causation but that's a pretty interesting data point! I may test it again the next day I don't mind walking around looking like I had no sleep and hate the world...

Thanks for the answers everyone!
posted by Eudaimonia at 7:38 AM on April 21, 2009

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