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If you’ve ever had a terrible cold, you’ll be no stranger to the nasty things that can come out of your nose when your sinuses are inflamed.
Sinuses are air cavities within the facial bones, lined by mucous membranes similar to those in other parts of the airways. Some people suffer from running noses on a regular basis – these poor souls have what is named chronic or recurrent sinusitis, wherein their sinuses are inflamed for weeks on end.

The causes of these inflammations or infections may stem from bacterial, fungal, viral, or allergic (autoimmune) causes, but no matter which it turns out to be, the end result is always a bucketful of snot.
And because they form part of the facial bone structure, a cold that plugs up any of the sinus drains gives you a sinus headache, which feels like pressure pushing out from inside your forehead or face.

What it is, what it snot

The nose comes before the throat in the respiratory tract, and thus it is at the very frontline of the battle against invading bacteria and viruses. A running nose is therefore one of the first signs that all is not well in your body.

To help you tell what is going on, here’s our own breakdown of what your snot is telling you, colour-coded for ease of intepretation.

Pee-SI Threat Level:

Color: Clear
If your snot is clear, you’re in good shape. Clear is the natural, healthy colour of your mucus.
However your nose is running, you’ll see a lot of it, which makes it the precursor to a full-blown cold.

Action Plan
Use a nasal spray such as Sterimar, which can clear up your nose and allow you to breath freely.
If other symptoms such as a sore throat or cough appear, congratulations, you’re the proud owner of a new cold. See a doctor, unless you are already dating one. In which case what are you doing?

Color: White
White is probably the rarest of all snot colors.
But don’t think you’ve won the jackpot if your mucus is white, unless you’re hoping for a medical jackpot, because pus is made out of dead white blood cells and dead bacteria; which suggests that white snot is caused by an impending infection.
White mucus can also be caused by certain dairy foods. If you are experiencing congestion and pressure in your sinuses and drink milk, you may see your mucus turn white.

Action Plan:
Monitor your mucus production and watch for traces of yellow.

Color: Yellow
If your snot is yellow, you may have a problem. Yellow mucus often signifies something damaged up in your nose, because yellow is the colour of pus, produced at the site of infection or foreign material in the body.
You may have a sinus infection with a blocked nasal passage, which can turn into chronic sinusitis.
You may also have nasal polyps or even bronchitis, an inflammation of one or more larger passages of the lungs.

Action Plan:
If you have yellow snot for several days -- especially with sinus pain – your doctor should have a look up your nostrils and find out what is going on there.
You probably want to snip your nostril hair first unless you’re not embarrassed about that sort of thing.

Color: Green
Slimy green boogers are just as bad as yellow ones. Bacterial infection is usually to blame for green snot, but you may also see the colour change to green due to irritants like smoke or pollution.
Chances are, if you’re coughing up green stuff, you’ve got an inflammation in the bronchial tubes in your lungs.
You may also discover that the volume of mucus, while not quite biblical, may put you in mind of Noah’s Ark.

Action Plan:
This is a clear-cut case of a bad cold, with a need to see the doctor, stat, and start meds to control the symptoms.

Color: Brown
This relates more to what’s happening outside your nose than what is in it.
Your mucus will be a gross shade of grey or brown if you’ve spent the evening out at a smoky bar, or more topically, spent the day outdoors when it’s hazy.
If your sinuses are swollen, you may also find blood mingling with your boogers, which turns them icky dark colors.
Smoking and drinking alcohol can make things worse.

Action Plan:
Respiratory masks, such as N95 masks, are designed to keep fine particulate matter out of your nose, throat and lungs, and hence, protect the wearers from suffering if there’s air pollution.
Keep Dorithricin lozenges or similar relievers handy too, as you will appreciate them when your throat goes raspy and starts giving you grief. LW

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