Dr. Hassan Ramadan

Ear, nose, and throat specialist Hassan Ramadan, MD, gives us the scoop on snot.

The stringy goo of mucus can be bothersome, especially during the wintertime. But did you know that mucus helps protect our bodies from infections?

Your mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract are all lined by mucus-producing tissue, creating the slippery secretions, which are made of water and proteins.

“Mucus is responsible for clearing your nose of potential illness-catching particles, including dust, pollutants, bacteria, and viruses, to prevent them from passing into your lungs. Cold weather will reduce the flow of mucus in your nose – a reason why we get colds. Smoking also can reduce the flow of mucus in your nose and can cause you to have more infections,” Dr. Ramadan said.

The average human nose produces a liter of mucus each day. We tend to produce more mucus when we have a cold, allergy, or infection.

The color of your mucus can help a doctor make a diagnosis. In a healthy individual, mucus is usually thin and colorless. If you have a bacterial or viral infection, your mucus will become thick because it is trapping the bacteria or viruses, and it changes to a yellowish green tone. Excess colorless mucus can occur during allergy attacks or a mild cold. Colored, thick mucus is usually a sign of a bacterial infection, like sinusitis.

It makes no difference if you blow your nose or swallow your mucus. Swallowing the mucus will allow it to be reabsorbed by your body, and the dust or bacteria particles will pass out of your system.

Make an appointment: 855-WVU-CARE.