What is Your Snot Saying?

What is Your Snot Saying?


Whether it leaves us feeling stuffed up or
sniffling, mucus can make us miserable. But despite being a little icky, phlegm gets
a bad rap. This germ-fighting goo contains cells and
compounds that help us power through a cold, and what turns up in our tissues can be a
useful clue about the inner workings of our immune systems. That’s right–it’s time for the colorful,
chemical secrets of snot. When we get sick with a cold or sinus infection,
our bodies begin to produce more mucus than normal to double down on the viral or bacterial
invaders. At this point, the consistency and color of
snot also changes, going from healthy and clear to, well, not so clear. Think of your snot like a traffic light. Yellow or white mucus turns up when you’re
congested and a higher concentration of living and dead white blood cells have thickened
the discharge. These immune cells might be there to battle
a cold, so slow down and take it easy. If your mucus looks green, that could be due
to the presence of a greenish enzyme called myeloperoxidase, which helps produce acids
in powerful immune cells called neutrophils. With neutrophils hard at work, your body is
probably in full “go” mode, trying to kick a viral infection. Red mucus means stop picking or blowing…
because all that friction probably caused some bleeding. But fear not, small amounts of blood in mucus
are normal and no cause for concern. No matter what the color, too much mucus can
be annoying or painful–which might bring you to the drug store for relief. But what you decide to buy should match your
symptoms and their root cause. For example, if you’re dealing with a runny
nose, one possible culprit is histamine. Histamine plays a pivotal role in allergies
and other immune responses by increasing blood flow to snot-producing body tissues. Fortunately, antihistamine drugs block some
histamine from reaching their target mucus-producing cells. They can also cut down the production of histamine
altogether… all of which helps you quit reaching for the tissue box. Or perhaps you’re dealing with an arguably
more annoying snot problem–congestion. If your head is pounding with pressure, decongestants
work to reduce blood flow to nasal and sinus tissues that produce mucus–this time by constricting
the blood vessels themselves. Cutting down on the volume of snot and reducing
inflammation should help ease pressure on your nose and sinuses. That could clear things out a bit easier. But over reliance on both antihistamines and
decongestants can decrease their effectiveness over time; so sometimes, it’s best to just
rest up and let your immune system do its thing. But did you know? Under the right conditions, some runny noses
have nothing to do with being sick or having allergies. If you suddenly feel sniffly standing out
at the bus stop, don’t blame it on snot. That’s actually condensation from water
in the cold air hitting your warm nostrils. So you don’t have to feel quite so gross
about wiping it on your sleeve. For more snot science, be sure to check out
Anna’s video at Gross Science. She’s covering snot 101, what it is, what
it does and everything you could possibly want to know about snot. Be sure to subscribe to her channel for videos
like why dogs eat their own poop, the vomiting defense of birds and so much more. While we still have you, be sure to thumbs
up and subscribe on your way out, and hey–thanks for watching!

50 comments on “What is Your Snot Saying?

  1. Reactions Post author

    Hey guys make sure you use a tissue and wash your hands after blowing your nose. With Soap Please. Don't be gross.

    Be sure to check out Anna's Snot video and all her other amazing videos at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shEPwQPQG4I.

    Reply
  2. Tim Kleyn Post author

    What if you get weekly smelly boogers the size of your pinky finger that are hard to the touch and dark green, often with a squishy dark red center, and have been getting that for over 15 years? I'm asking for a friend.

    Reply
  3. William Wallace Post author

    Condensation from cold air hitting warm nostrils? I think you meant warm moist air from your lungs meeting colder incoming air?

    Reply
  4. Adam Smith Post author

    Having no noise hair/cilia due to alopecia causes my nose to drain all day long, very annoying. Clear and thin when it's just a tad cold inside and clear and thick while cold outside. Great video nonetheless, very informative! (:

    Reply
  5. Daved Post author

    I can't put my finger on it but something about the narrator's pronunciation of things is difficult to understand. At first I actually thought it was something other than English. Interesting other than that.

    Reply
  6. aienatu Post author

    i think maybe you meant that a runny nose on a cold day comes from condensation from warm air (from your lungs) hitting your cold nostrils. (the other way around).
    cold air has little capacity to hold vapor, so the air outside is dry. warm air in your lungs is chock full of water vapor, which condenses in your nose.

    Reply
  7. Basil Gan Post author

    Looking into a simple symptom and finding these complexities. Myeloperoxidase helps produce acid in neutrophils to actually consume bacteria or kill it leaving piles of dead cells? Thanks for the details.

    Reply
  8. DatShinyTurtwig Post author

    What does it mean when your snot solidifies in your nose? Also what plays a roll in determining the viscosity of snot (Like when ur nose just continuously runs vs snot that refuses to leave ur body)?

    Reply
  9. TEENAGEDREAMZ💎 Post author

    When I have a cold I use an old towel or I have to use hundreds of prices of tissue just because my nose is as runny as usane bolt also it doesn't hurt my nose as much xp

    Reply
  10. Josh Gellis Post author

    WHY doesn't PBS broadcast this on NETWORK TV?! I wish I could say my immune system was better. I love visualizing my B Cells, Dendritic Cells, Granulocytes, Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILCs)
    , Megakaryocytes
    , Monocytes/Macrophages
    , Myeloid-derived Suppressor Cells (MDSC)
    , Natural Killer (NK) Cells
    , Platelets
    , Red Blood Cells (RBCs)
    , T Cells
    , Thymocytes as tanks, black ops, the airforce… WW2 f-yeah!

    Reply
  11. Kalvus Post author

    My snot has been super green for a long time and I don’t feel sick at all. But it’s not runny, I have to blow really hard to blow it up but when I do it’s a crazy amount

    Reply
  12. crystal marie Post author

    What if it's dark Yellow ? Because I'm getting scared this has never happened to me before .

    Reply
  13. Dave Alan Post author

    I sneezed and the thickest greenest snot I’ve ever had shot out of my nose and landed straight in my beard… there was so much…

    Reply
  14. DannyDaDuffyDucking Daffer Post author

    Huh my left nostril was burning when I tried to sleep and alittle now
    It was leaking but not it's just green

    Reply

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