You might have heard that yellow or green mucus is a clear sign that you have an infection, but despite that common misperception, the yellow or green hue isn't due to bacteria. When you have a cold, your immune system sends white blood cells called neutrophils rushing to the area.
Your mucus can also change color when you're sick. Green mucus is a sign that your body's immune system is at work. The color comes from a type of infection-fighting white blood cell. “With cold or flu, mucus starts clear, then begins to darken as it gets thicker," Kemmerly says.
About 70 percent of the time, symptoms of acute bacterial sinus infections go away within two weeks without antibiotics. When sinusitis symptoms last seven to 10 days or more, it's a good idea to see a doctor to discuss treatment options.
Green or Dark Yellow Phlegm. A thick and dark yellow phlegm may be a sign of a viral or bacterial infection, sinus infection, or lower respiratory tract infection. Typically, this occurs when the immune system sends white blood cells, known as neutrophils, to the area of infection.
If the symptoms last for less than four weeks it is termed acute, between 4-12 weeks it is subacute, and greater than 12 weeks it is considered chronic sinusitis. It sounds like your infection has lasted about two weeks so is an acute infection. Acute causes included bacterial and viral (most common) infections.
Common symptoms of sinus infection include:
- Postnasal drip.
- Discolored nasal discharge (greenish in color)
- Nasal stuffiness or congestion.
- Tenderness of the face (particularly under the eyes or at the bridge of the nose)
- Frontal headaches.
- Pain in the teeth.
Here's what those symptoms look like: In bacterial pneumonia, patients usually develop a high fever with possible shaking chills. You may also have moderate or severe chest pain when you cough or draw in a deep breath. The cough produces a thick phlegm that is green, yellow or rust-colored.
Acute sinusitis only lasts for a short time, defined by the American Academy of Otolaryngology as less than four weeks. An acute infection is usually part of a cold or other respiratory illness. Chronic sinus infections last for more than twelve weeks or continue to recur.
The infection can be bacterial, viral or fungal, or due to allergies. Most sinus infections are caused by viruses, Joseph said, and do not require antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the symptoms are severe and include high fever along with nasal drainage and a productive cough.
Try these 10 natural remedies for sinus pain relief to help break the sinus pain cycle:
- Flush your nasal passages.
- Try bromelain.
- Take a steam.
- Drink up.
- Spice it up.
- Allergy-proof your home.
- Use a humidifier.
- Apply warm compresses.
Viruses cause most sinus infections. If a virus causes your sinus infection, then it can be contagious. Bacteria can also cause sinus infections, but these infections aren't contagious. You can't spread them to other people.
Is your yellow nasal discharge light or dark? A dark yellow mucus can indicate a sinus infection (but again is not necessarily so) while a light yellow mucus can be produced by dry air and a thick yellow mucus can indicate the presence of a "cold" that requires one to drink more water.
Sinus Infection Symptoms
- Sinus pressure behind the eyes and the cheeks.
- A runny, stuffy nose that lasts more than a week.
- A worsening headache.
- A fever.
- Bad breath.
- Thick yellow or green mucus draining from your nose or down the back of your throat (postnasal drip)
Acute bronchitis treatment
- Drink fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and lower your fever.
- Use cough medicine, if your child is age 6 or older.
- Increase the humidity in your home or use a humidifier.
Walking pneumonia is a non-medical term to describe a mild case of pneumonia. It can also be called atypical pneumonia because the disease is different from more serious cases of pneumonia caused by typical bacteria. Pneumonia is a disease of the lungs that often results from a lung infection.
Only a layer of bone separates your sinuses from your brain. It's not likely, but if a sinus infection passes through the bone, it can infect the lining of the brain or the brain itself. It's also uncommon, but a sinus infection could spread into the eye socket, causing an infection that could cause blindness.
Stay hydrated. Drinking enough liquids, especially warm ones, can help your mucus flow. Water can loosen your congestion by helping your mucus move. Try sipping anything from juice to clear broths to chicken soup.
Acute bronchitis often develops three to four days after a cold or the flu. It may start with a dry cough, then after a few days the coughing spells may bring up mucus. Most people get over an acute bout of bronchitis in two to three weeks, although the cough can sometimes hang on for four weeks or more.
The common cold, also known simply as a cold, is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract that primarily affects the nose. Signs and symptoms may appear less than two days after exposure to the virus. These may include coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, headache, and fever.
Different Types of Discharge. White: Thick, white discharge is common at the beginning and end of your cycle. Normal white discharge is not accompanied by itching. If itching is present, thick white discharge can indicate a yeast infection. Clear and stretchy: This is "fertile" mucous and means you are ovulating.
But with walking pneumonia, a person may not feel it until 2 to 3 weeks after becoming infected. Most types of pneumonia clear up within a week or two, although a cough can linger for several weeks more. In severe cases, it may take longer to completely recover.