These defenders mix in with your normally clear mucus and cause more mucus, that is thicker and changed in color. And this dense, copious mucus impedes breathing when it causes you symptoms like a runny, stuffy nose or sinus and chest congestion.
Generally, mucus color other than clear or white is an indicator of infection. But contrary to common belief, the color of your mucus is not an ideal standard for deciding whether you have bacteria or virus infection. Thick yellow or green mucus can result from either.
A cough that brings up mucus from your lungs is called phlegm or sputum. Lung mucus is often thick and can be yellow, green, brown or bloody in color.
Some causes of excessive sinus, nasal and lung mucus production are:
- hay fever
- food allergy
- mold allergy
- nasal polyps
- common cold
- cystic fibrosis
- whooping cough
- nonallergic rhinitis
- respiratory infection
- Legionnaires’ disease
- Wegener’s granulomatosis
- respiratory syncytial virus infection
Some OTC medications that may help dry up, break up or remove your clear or colored mucus include:
- guaifenesin ~ breaks up mucus
- decongestants ~ drys up mucus
- nasal wash ~ removes nasal and sinus mucus
- antihistamine ~ reduces triggering inflammation that causes excessive mucus production
Drink plenty of fluids to help keep mucus moist for movement and prevents “dry up” dehydration. Consuming warm liquids (healthy soup) or steamy environments (warm shower) aides in loosening up your mucus as well.