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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Why does your snot turn green when you have a cold?

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Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 15766 Questions

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Posted on Thu, 7 Jun 2018 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Question: I have a cold and the mucus has changed from thin and milky to thick and greenish. Is this good or bad?
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Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
depends on additional symptoms

Detailed Answer:
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

It would depend on the additional symptoms.

A change in color can occur as the body starts to fight the infection, it is sometimes due to invasion of the infected area by certain types of white blood cells.
In that case, the use of mucolytics to help break up the mucus and encourage it to be expelled would be helpful. Extra fluids to decrease the thickness would also help.
Eg of mucolytics are guaifenesin (mucinex)

If you are having a persistent fever or the coughing is severe and persistent or you are feeling generally unwell and weak with a significant reduction in appetite, then it may indicate that the infection has become bacterial and antibiotics are required along with the mucolytics

If you are not feeling down and out (it is expected to feel unwell but if it is not overwhelming or improving slightly) , if there is no fever and the coughing is intermittent, then the use of extra fluids and the mucolytic may be enough along with rest.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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