The Signs in Your Snot

The appearance of your snot could be giving you warning signs to something serious. ADVENT explains the signs in your snot. Learn more.
The Signs in Your Snot
Reviewed by
Published on
October 31, 2019
Updated on
September 2, 2021

When you suffer from chronic sinus infections (sinusitis) or are battling the seasonal cold, there is always that one telltale sign- snot. Nasal mucus production, commonly known as snot, is a normal function of the body to keep you healthy. When your snot is discolored or there is a change in its consistency, it may be the result of an underlying issue.

The Source of Snot

Your nose and throat are lined with mucous membranes, called mucosa. These glands produce roughly 1.5 liters of healthy mucus per day. Typically, clear in color, the primary functions of snot are to:

  • Keep the nose and sinuses moist
  • Assist in moistening the air you breathe
  • Trap germs, dust and unwanted particles
  • Fight infection

Snot Warning Signs

The color and consistency of your snot can tell you a lot about an illness or infection you may be fighting. It may also be telling you how your surroundings or activities may be affecting you. Here's what they mean:



Clear snot is considered healthy.


Clear & Runny

Clear snot that constantly runs may be a sign of your body's response to irritation. If your runny nose is also associated with itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and fatigue, you may be suffering from allergies or exposed to pollutants in the air, such as perfume or smoke.

Whatever the cause may be of your defiant nasal drip, you may have an imbalance in the nasal nerve endings and could be candidate for Nasal Cryotherapy with ClariFix®.



White snot is a good indicator of slow-moving mucus. When you're battling an infection, cold or chronic allergies, the inflamed nasal tissue causes the mucus to slow down. You may also notice white snot if you're dehydrated. The whiteness is a result of less water and a more concentrated mucus.



Yellow snot is a sign that whatever infection you may be battling is attempting to take over. The good news is that your body is officially in fight mode. Snot becomes yellow due to the high concentration of white blood cells, as an immune response to the infection.

Consistent yellow snot may be a sign of chronic sinus infections. If you're resistant to antibiotics for treating sinus infections, you may be a candidate for a simple, in-office procedure such as Balloon Sinuplasty.



Green snot is a big sign that the infection you're fighting is here to stay and your immune system is working overtime. Dead white blood cells and other unwanted waste accelerate your snot into the greenish color.


Pink or Red

Pink or red snot is a clear indicator of blood.  If you've experienced damage, trauma or irritation to the nose or the lining, it may be followed by spots of blood or a pinkish hue. If you experience light nosebleeds, consider a saline spray, avoid nose-picking and lighten up on the nose-blowing.


Brown or Orange

Consider retracing your steps when it comes to brown or orange snot. This is a sign of old blood leaving the body or contact with a foreign substance such as dirt.


Black Snot

While not the most common of discolored snot, black snot could be a sign of a fungal infection. Fungal infections tend to affect those with a compromised immune system and should be taken seriously. Don't be alarmed if you see black snot if you're a frequent smoker.

Whether the signs in your snot are giving you insight to a temporary issue or something serious, you should always consult with a medical professional if you have sinus concerns.                      

First published by ADVENT on
October 31, 2019
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The Signs in Your Snot