The function of mucus in the human body is to protect surfaces of internal organs from foreign particles, pathogens and harsh environments. In the stomach for instance the mucus lining shields the chamber from burning effects of hydrochloric acid. In the nasal region, dust and bacteria are trapped by phlegm to prevent them from getting down to lungs.
Normal mucus has an almost clear appearance. When it traps dust and other particles, the hue may change depending on the type and volume of the trapped substance. Sometimes, mucus also turns to yellow or green when the body adds white blood cells to it, usually during sickness.
There are many causes of black mucus. Most of these are relatively harmless. However, black mucus might also indicate the presence of potentially dangerous conditions, especially if it persists. If you are coughing black mucus, one or more of these may be the cause:
Cigar and bhang smokers are the most likely individualsto have black specks in mucous when they cough. A large amount of tar gets trapped into the throat and come out in bits when the person forcefully drives out phlegm through the mouth or nose. The accumulation of these specks is partly the reason why long term smokers cough a lot.
Soot from other sources
Candles, organic fuel engines, open fires and other burning materials that produce smoke can cause you to produce visible black specks in your mucus if you are exposed to them for long. People who work in automobile repair centers or those who live in towns with high air pollution may experience this.
If you use smoky candles or keep a fuel based generator inside the house or near the windows while it is on, chances are that you may be breathing in a lot of smoke from these sources.
Injuries in the mouth, nose, and throat may result in bleeding. When the blood that gets stuck on internal surfaces dries up, it picks a dark hue, which can be noticed as it is expelled in mucus.
Black dust can emanate from various sources. It might be the ink in your printer, old paint, black soil, and asbestos roofing among others. While increased entry of any type of dust into the throat area presents certain levels of health risks, some types of dust, such as those from metals or asbestos products, are fatal. People who work in metal storage facilities for instance should be alarmed when they start noticing black specks in their mucus.
Some types of bacterial and viral infections may turn the tonsils black and tender. These effects may also extend to the other throat regions and mouth. During a hard cough, small tissues may peel off, resulting in black spots in spits.
If you use black eyeliners and eye shadows, it is possible that they might be responsible for black specks in your phlegm as they drain through the nasolacrimal duct. The nasolacrimal duct is a tear pathway that links the eyes to the nasal cavity. When small bits of eyeliners dissolve in tears and travel through this channel, they are deposited in the nasal region. Once the deposition increases, you might start seeing dark specks in your mucus spits.
One sign of throat cancer is the appearance of dark patches in the mouth. During cough, these patches may peel off due to soreness and get into ejected mucus. If you have this symptom, look out for other signs of throat cancer; they include foul smell, swallowing difficulties, enlargement of throat, and bleeding among others.
A condition known as mucormycocis is very rare but dangerous. It is caused by toxic fungi which attack mucous membranes and cause death of tissues. The infections may also extend to blood vessels and lead to uncontrolled clotting. This might result in oxygen deficiency in the brain and heart, causing stroke and heart attack. When a person with mucormycocis coughs, black stuff may be visible in their phlegm, indicating tissue death and bleeding.
Molds entering the throat are often trapped and warded off by use of phlegm. At times however, especially in individuals with compromised immune system, the mold stays and multiplies on the surfaces. When high amounts of mold accumulate in the throat, the affected person will notice black specks in their saliva and mucus.
It is important to identify what is causing the black particles in your mucus before you take the next step. Cigar smokers usually notice a reduced amount of black specks in their phlegm when they stop smoking. The time taken to clear up accumulated soot may vary from a few weeks to a couple of months depending on how long and how much one smokes.
Fungal infections require and immediate response; letting molds stay in your body can result in serious health effects. Also, go for tests to rule out the presence of cancer.
Filed in: Conditions