The dreaded cold and flu season is upon us. Stock up on tissues and decongestants because it is sneezy season, y’all. Your constant sneezing, raw nose and clogged sinuses can be incredibly irritating. You just want to feel better already! However, it is important to pay attention to your body during this time, including your snot. As icky as it may sound, the color of your snot is one way your body lets you know what is wrong. Knowing what the color of your snot means can help you get the right treatment for your illness. 


Clear snot is healthy snot! If you are sneezing and itching, but your snot is still clear, you are most likely just experiencing allergies. We can help with that!


If your snot is light or bright yellow, this is an indication that you have a cold or another virus. If you have no other cold symptoms, your snot color is a good indicator that a cold is developing. This is one of the first signs to look out for. If your mucus is yellow-green, keep an eye on it, as this may indicate the start of a sinus infection.


Green is the color to look out for. Green snot is usually a sign of an infection, either bacterial or viral. Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Your snot color does not change back to yellow or clear even after your other cold symptoms have gone away.
  • You are experiencing sinus pain and discomfort.
  • You still feel sick after 10-12 days. 
  • Your mucus is turning darker green and thicker.
  • You develop a fever.

A sinus infection must be treated with antibiotics, so make sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor if you have concerns. 


Red snot usually means you have blood in your mucus. This doesn’t need to concern you. Winter air is cold and dry, and can cause dryness and cracking in your nose. This, plus excessively blowing your nose, can cause bleeding. Putting a small amount of vaseline inside your nose can help with the dryness. Contact your doctor if the bleeding continues or is excessive. 


Brown snot is caused either by old blood in the nose, or dirt. If you have spent a lot of time outside in a dusty environment, don’t be surprised the next time you blow your nose.

Before tossing your tissue in the trash, take a peek at what your body is trying to tell you! If you are experiencing a cold, allergies, nosebleeds or a sinus infection, visit Roanoke Valley ENT and Allergy.