Coughing up Dark Green Mucus

While mucus often appears as clear in color sometimes it develops another hue. Each color whether yellow, pink, brown or black is usually an indication of what is happening in the nasal passages. When the mucus is green it is usually a sign that the body’s immune system has been under attack and is vigorously putting up a fight. Dark green mucus is thus a consequence of dead neutrophils. The areas where green mucus is produced include the sinus membranes, the trachea membranes, the bronchioles membranes, the bronchi membranes and the nasal membranes.



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Neutrophils are a kind of a white blood cell which springs into action when there’s an infection. When the neutrophils succumb to their death in the course of fighting an infection they burst and in the process releasing an enzyme known as verdoperoxidase which is green in pigmentation. As an enzyme the responsibility of verdoperoxidase is to ensure peroxidase activity occurs in pus.


Color change in mucus

In the beginning when an inflammation or infection is at its most acute stage the color of mucus is usually yellow. This is because the neutrophils are still alive. The yellow color could also be as a result of another type of white blood cells that go by the name of eosinophils. These typically present in conditions related to allergies such as asthma. But the yellow color of mucus soon ends the longer the inflammation or infection stays in the body. When the neutrophils burst or die, the green color of mucus becomes dominant.


One prevalent misconception has been assuming that when mucus turns green from yellow it can only mean there is a bacterial infection. That is not true because neutrophils rise to action to fight all sorts of pathogens be they viruses, fungi or bacteria. Thus all kinds of infections or inflammations will result in green mucus and not just bacteria.


Why green mucus should not be treated using antibiotics

In the majority of healthy people the green mucus will go away the moment the condition behind the green mucus is effectively cured. However one thing you shouldn’t do is to take antibiotics in an attempt to treat the condition causing the green mucus.

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Unless confirmed that the condition is being caused by a bacterial infection and antibiotics have been prescribed by a qualified and licensed medical practitioner antibiotics should be avoided. This is because the cause of your green mucus might actually not be bacteria thus rendering antibiotics not only ineffective since antibiotics can’t fight viruses but unnecessary and potentially dangerous to your health. You could also develop a resistance to drugs. In actual fact most of the illnesses that cause lots of mucus and phlegm are usually as a result of viruses. These illnesses usually go away on their own, after some time.

Use of mucus in the body

Mucus serves a specific purpose in the body and this is to moisten the oxygen passing through the airwaves and nose. When the air is moistened it helps prevent the tissues from getting too dry. It also makes the nose and airwaves better equipped to trap bacteria, foreign particles and microbes present in the air going through the nose.

Additionally mucus helps in the protection of lungs and other organs of the respiratory system.


Dark Green Mucus – Indicative Symptoms

The presence of green mucus could serve as a pointer of an underlying condition. Excessive mucus is often produced in particular conditions such as when there’s an infection in the respiratory tract. The following are some of the conditions that green mucus could point to:

  • Sinusitis
  • Hay fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Flu
  • Colds


Green mucus as a symptom of Sinusitis

One of the first symptoms that show up when one has a sinus infection is green mucus. When green mucus is accompanied by a lot of pain around the eyes, forehead and cheeks, it is a confirmation that it is sinusitis. Sinusitis is usually caused by a viral infection as a result of a flu or a cold virus spreading from the upper airways to the sinuses.


Treating a sinus infection

The symptoms of a sinus infection including the green mucus usually go away in a span of 2-3 weeks in the case of acute sinusitis. But if the condition deteriorates in the case of chronic sinusitis, medical advice and treatment should be solicited. Below are tips for a case of sinusitis where the symptoms are mild and have lasted less than a week:

  • Get OTC painkillers to take care of the pain and the high temperature.
  • To assist in unblocking the nose in order to aid easier breathing, use OTC decongestants such as nasal drops or sprays.
  • To aid the draining of mucus from the sinuses and to reduce the pain, applying warm packs on the face will help.
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