Black Specks in Mucus – What Are They?
Finding black specks in mucus remains can be alarming, especially since most throat mucus is clear in color. While gross and often inconvenient, throat mucus plays a very important role in keeping the body healthy. It serves as a means of transportation for bacteria and other microbial stuff that the body wants expelled. And, it also acts as a natural lubricant, keeping the throat and surrounding areas moist and supple.
But, it can also provide some telling indications of problems within the body. Mucus color is one of these indicators and it can signal infection or illness. Similarly in the same way that bowel mucus can serve as a means to identify issues deep within the gastrointestinal tract, the mucus from the throat can work in essentially the same way. And, whether from the bowels or from the throat, black specks in mucus can be incredibly concerning.
Many times, phlegm can appear to have black specks in it just as a result of environmental pollutants. Wisegeek.com points out that dust and other particles when inhaled can translate into darker or speckled mucus. This can also be a result of nasal mucus, whereas dirt and debris breathed in through the nose can make its way through the respiratory system and result in coughing up black mucus, or that which is discolored or full of specks and flecks. The nose also can contribute to black specks in mucus in another fashion as well. When blowing the nose becomes excessive and dryness and cracking in the nostrils give way to bleeding, small pieces and spots of dried blood can very easily become mixed right in with mucus. Black mucus in nose areas is often a result of dried blood, and this can change the color entirely or merely add some speckled spots therein. Therefore nasal mucus may very well be the cause of black specks in mucus.
Another common reason that dotted mucus may be present is simply related to meal time. Wisegeek notes that ingesting black foods can temporarily change the color of one’s mucus, and certain edibles such as licorice and chocolate can lead to black mucus or that which can be speckled. Normally, black specks in mucus resulting from food sources however is temporary. And, therefore recurring bouts are likely not attributed to this cause (unless licorice and chocolate are very frequent menu items).
Phlegm that is black is incredibly common as a result of inhaling smoke and, black specks in mucus are not uncommon as a result of inhaling the toxins. It’s been suggested that the black flecks are a result of tar in the lungs. While most common in cigarette smokers, those that are frequently exposed to smoke, such as firefighters, may also experience occasional black mucus. Black specks in mucus could also be present in people working in coal mines, automobile manufacturing plants, and road construction industry.
And of course, dried blood again can cause black specks in mucus, but in a different way than via nose canals. In certain rare infections (fungal in nature) such as mucormycosis and aspergillosis, blood can be found in the lungs that can be expelled with mucus. This bleeding can also be caused by other health conditions such as cancer of the lungs and emphysema. When released in the mucus, instead of the characteristic red color that is typical of blood, a darker and black hue can be evident, and specks and flecks are not uncommon as well.
The most important thing to remember if black specks in mucus have made a cameo is that if it’s abnormal and unexplainable, then it probable requires the attention of a health care provider. If it is chronic and recurring, then it also probably needs evaluated by a health care provider. But, if it’s temporary and nature and is encountered following a stick of licorice, then it can be nothing at all to worry about. Remember that identifying other symptoms can be critical in determining the cause and source of black phlegm specks, and keeping track of them and noticing if they are worsening or becoming more frequent is important.
Everybody’s mucus is different, and what is unusual for one person may be perfectly normal for another. However, black specks in mucus are typically considered abnormal, unless easily explainable via food or inhaled contaminants. So, if they appear and are accompanied by other symptoms, health care should be sought out. If they worsen or are prolonged, then they could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.