Color of Phlegm – What Can It Tell You?

Color of PhlegmPhlegm or respiratory system mucus is a gel like substance produced by upper and lower respiratory system organs in response to various types of irritants in the form of allergens, viruses, bacteria, environmental toxins and pollution. The purpose of the phlegm is to lubricate the respiratory organs and passages and to quickly neutralize the foreign invaders by expelling them from our bodies with coughing. Therefore, it is very important to learn different phlegm color meaning and not take any cough suppressing medications as it’s our bodies’ natural way of cleansing itself.

It has been observed that even healthy individuals produce around a quart of mucus daily to protect respiratory system organs from drying out that normally dribbles down the back of throats without any notice. However, in response to various irritants and inflammatory processes, the color of phlegm changes along with its consistency. The presence of white blood cells, proteins and irritants gives mucus its tint. The color of phlegm can take on virtually any color of the rainbow and has a tremendous meaning in diagnosing and pin-pointing different types of diseases and conditions.

Coughing up clear mucus could just mean an onset of seasonal allergies or a mild viral infection, the clear mucus production usually resolves itself within 5-7 days like any viral infection. In case your condition does not improve and you start coughing up yellow mucus or the color of phlegm changes to a more cloudy type, it could signal a bacterial infection in the lungs or bronchi. If the color of phlegm is dark yellow or green, it indicates the presence of pus or dead white cells in the phlegm mucus, a good indication that body is currently fighting off bacteria. Another reason for coughing up green phlegm and sputum, a combination of phlegm and spit, could be an indication of cystic fibrosis disease and should be discussed with your doctor.

If you smoke you might see brown phlegm being coughed up in the morning as a response to irritation caused by cigarette smoke. Smoking causes chronic inflammation to the bronchi, lungs and other organs of the respiratory system resulting in increased bouts of cough necessary to clear out the lungs. If you suffer from acute or chronic bronchitis you can try some bronchitis natural remedies that may also alleviate excessive mucus problem.

Black phlegm color meaning is always a classical symptom observed in coal mine workers and people involved in hazardous working environment. The condition may potentially progress to black lung disease, an inflammatory condition affecting lung tissue and causing shortness of breath and lack of oxygen.

Finally, a presence of bloody phlegm indicates hemorrhage or bleeding in the lungs and could signal a very dangerous health condition like pneumonia or tuberculosis.

Color of phlegm is a very helpful way for you to know how your body is coping with an illness. No matter what the color of phlegm is, if it’s accompanied by a fever of 102 F degrees or higher, if you generally feel run down, experience wheezing, chest pains and persistent cough, it is time to call a doctor.

Please also watch this educational video about mucus color wheel that was put together by The Doctors TV Show: