Brown Mucus from Nose – Dry Blood or Bacteria?
Nasal mucus may be gross, but it’s actually incredibly important to the health of sinus tissues and those found in the nose and the mouth, according to WebMD. In fact, mucus contributes to the good health and functioning of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts as well. The reason why it’s special is because it functions as a means to trap dust and bacteria and keep them from entering the body. It also serves as a blanket of moisture, which can prevent tissues from becoming too dry. Nasal mucus in particular, serves as a means to keep dirt and bacteria from entering the body through the nostrils, and provides necessary moisture to reduce the risk of inflammation. Most of the time, mucus color from the nose varies from clear to white to even yellow and green during times of illness or allergies. But, sometimes brown mucus from nose areas can occur. And, this can be alarming to some people who haven’t encountered the deeper shade of nose goo before.
It can be easy to associate a change in nasal mucus color with a bacterial infection. In fact, in common ailments like sinusitis, the mucus does tend to change color. Sinusitis however can be caused from a virus, bacteria, allergies or other irritations. And, the mucus discharge can change too. It’s important to understand that in conditions like sinusitis, it’s not the bacteria or virus that gives nose goo its characteristic colors of yellow and green. It’s the effect the body’s white blood cells have on the substance as they try to fight it off, and in turn change the color of mucus. And, therefore if bacteria isn’t responsible for green or yellow mucus as so commonly thought, it’s certainly not the source of brown mucus from nose areas.
So what is the source of brown mucus discharge coming from the nose? Well, most often, it’s blood. But, it’s not a result of internal bleeding or a serious medical condition in most cases. WebMD explains that when reddish or brown mucus discharge is present, it’s typically because of irritation to the insides of the nostrils that can come from scratching, rubbing and blowing the nose. When blood mixes with mucus that is tinged in hue, the end result can be shades of brownish or reddish. And, black mucus in nose areas can also be caused from blood, as it becomes almost black in color when dry, and can create streaks of black color or very dark brown in mucus.
Yellow brown mucus may be caused by a combination of factors. On one hand, the yellow color may indicate that the body is sending its white blood cells off to fight a germy battle. Or, it may simply be a result of seasonal allergies. Either way, excessive nose blowing or nasal drainage can lead to irritation and minor injury of the insides of the nostrils leading to mild bleeding and healing and of course, brown mucus from nose areas as a result of the dried blood contained therein. These two issues combined can lead to yellow brown mucus.
In general, regardless of source, brown mucus or phlegm that is tinged with brown streaks or spots can most often be attributed to blood or dried blood, which can be brown in color, especially the older that it gets. This is often true for coughing up brown mucus, in which irritation from the throat and small amounts of bleeding can also cause the change in mucus color. Brown mucus from nose areas therefore is almost always a result of dried blood and not bacterial in nature.
Just because the source of brown mucus from nose areas has been identified and bacterial sources have been ruled out does not mean that a trip to the doctor’s isn’t warranted. There are some times that even when bacteria are eliminated as a suspect and antibiotics are skipped that a health care provider should still be consulted. If nasal mucus is accompanied by certain signs and symptoms, it’s important to seek medical care. For instance, in the case of an injury to the head, brown mucus from nose areas can be a sign of serious internal trauma, and should be evaluated immediately. And, New York Times points out that when symptoms are persistent and drainage of any kind lasts longer than three weeks, a healthcare professional should be consulted (in children anything more than 10 days is appropriate). When more ominous signs and symptoms are absent however, nasal mucus that is tinged or streaked with brown is little to worry about and most often related to the condition of the nostrils than anything on the inside.