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Almost always when we are suffering form some respiratory tract infection or disorder, we can notice some sticky fluid while we are coughing. That fluid is, actually, phlegm, a kind of mucus that is produced by the mucous membranes, and it is very important for our body since it assists in the protection from many foreign bodies, trapping viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that are harmful for our health. All the organs of the respiratory tract secrete phlegm except the nasal cavity.

Phlegm color meaning

When our body produces excessive amounts of phlegm, it means that it is fighting against some infection and uses phlegm to protect the organs of the respiratory tract from the foreign bodies. However, the color of phlegm may be different depending of the respiratory system infection. For that reason, by observing the color of the phlegm, it is easier to establish which infection is in question.

When the phlegm is produced in normal amounts and is clear or white in color, it indicates that the body and the respiratory system are healthy. In the case when the phlegm has light yellow color, it means that the immune system is fighting against some viral infection in the upper respiratory tract, for example, sinusitis. Phlegm that is dark yellow in color means that a bacterial infection has affected the lower respiratory tract and that the immune system successfully fights it. The people who are smoking usually have brown colored phlegm. The phlegm may mix with saliva, dust and foreign matter, and have grainy texture because of that. When a smoker notices that his phlegm is brown in color, it is advisable to reduce his/her smoking since the respiratory tract infection may aggravate. Pneumonia and internal micro-bleedings are conditions that cause phlegm to be green in color due to the presence of the enzyme named myeloperoxidase. The color of this enzyme is green and consequently, the phlegm gets this color. Myeloperoxidase can be found in the white blood cells, and bacteria are organisms that unlike viruses draw more white blood cells. When one suffers from bronchitis, his/her phlegm has bloody color since the blood is present in it. Blood in the phlegm might not be serious when it is the sign of the bronchitis. However, the people are often terrified when they notice bloody phlegm while coughing since it is also a symptom of a serious respiratory disease called tuberculosis.

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