There are many green snot causes. Should you be worried if you have green snot? Are antibiotics necessary? To give you a better understanding, let’s talk about the different green snot causes and treatment options.
Is green snot a sign of bacterial infection?
Snot, the mucus coming from the nose, serves a purpose in the body. It traps germs (viruses, fungi, and bacteria), allergens, and other tiny particles before they reach your lungs and cause an allergic attack or infection.
Most of us believe that changes in nose secretions may mean we have an infection, which you can treat by taking antibiotics. That’s not always true. When our snot thickens and changes in color (green or yellow), it means that our body’s immune system is protecting us from environmental irritants (dust, germs, and allergens). The color itself comes from infection-fighting white blood cells.
What Causes Green Snot?
Dry air, allergies, upper respiratory infections (sinusitis, common colds, and flu), and airway obstruction (nasal polyps and deviated septum) are just some conditions that could cause green snot. The snot could be clear at first then change to yellow or green.
To prevent infection, there should be proper flow of secretions inside your nose and sinuses. When you have a cold, for instance, the inner lining of your nose tends to swell, which causes mucus (snot) to build up, stagnate, and create a perfect environment for germs to multiply. Dry air increases the production of snot to prevent your airway from drying and bleeding.
Check out our other article about clear mucus and what does it mean.
How to Prevent and Treat Green Mucus
Before you diagnose yourself and self-medicate, speak with your doctor to find out the cause of your green snot. Your doctor will more likely prescribe antibiotics, which may not always be necessary, according to an article published by CNN. The common cold, flu, and sinusitis are usually viral, thus antibiotics may not benefit you at all and could lead to the formation of antibiotic-resistant bugs.
Even antihistamines could make green mucus worse. They cause excessive drying of the nose, which leads to an increased production of thick green snot.
Relieve Stuffy Nose
There are different ways to do this. In most cases, you don’t have to take drugs to get rid of a stuffy nose. If you don’t know why your nose is congested, you can try the following natural and inexpensive home remedies:
Saline Nasal Rinses and Sprays
Spraying saline solution into your nose is one of the cheapest, safest, and simplest remedies for stuffy nose. It eases the swelling, removes allergens, and promotes healing.
You can buy premixed saline nose rinses and sprays from your local drug store. However, research says homemade saltwater nose rinse is better than commercially prepared saline nose sprays. 
Here’s a simple saltwater rinse recipe from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology:
- Combine 3 teaspoons of iodine-free salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Then, add 1 teaspoon of the mixture to 8 ounces of warm water. For kids, add ½ teaspoon of the mixture to 4 ounces of warm water.
- Use a neti pot or rubber bulb syringe to squirt into your nose to thin your mucus, so it’s easier to flush out. You can do a saline nasal rinse as often as possible. Start with twice a day until you get used to it.
Steam helps moisturize the inside of your nose, thin snot, and ease inflammation due to flu, cold, or allergy. You can consume chicken soup or hot liquids and take a warm shower. You could also add a few drops of eucalyptus oil, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling properties, to a bowl of hot water. You can perform steam inhalation therapy two to three times daily.
Increased Intake of Fluids
We often hear doctors say to drink plenty of fluids when we’re sick.
When you have flu, for instance, your breathing becomes difficult, so you tend to breathe faster in order to supply your body with more oxygen. You also lose more moisture during exhalation. If your airway is dry, your body makes more thick mucus. Drinking more fluids will help thin your snot, so it’s easier to expel. Just make sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine, which are dehydrating.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, quercetin contains anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy activities. It prevents your body cells from releasing allergy-causing chemicals called histamines. More medical studies on humans are still necessary, though.
Quercetin is available as a dietary supplement. However, there are also foods rich in quercetin, such as ancho peppers, black grapes, broccoli, blueberries, applesauce (unsweetened), celery, cherry tomatoes, chives, and butterhead lettuce.
Spicy foods offer temporary relief for congested nose. They help ease inflammation and thin thick snot, which in turn prevents infection. Onions in particular may contain a compound that could fight allergy symptoms.
Some spices you could add to your meals are black pepper, chili peppers, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, ginger, and curry powder.
Allergy-Proof Your Home
Keep your environment clean and free from allergens
Since you spend most of your time at home, it’s important to make sure it’s free from substances that could trigger an allergy or asthma attack. And one of the most common allergens present in your home is dust mites. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments, like carpets, curtains, bedding, and upholstered furniture.
Here are some general tips and reminders when cleaning your home:
- Before you start, make sure to wear a disposable filter mask, so you don’t breathe in dust that’s floating in the air.
- You kill dust mites at high temperatures. When you wash your blankets, covers, sheets, curtains, and comforters, wash them at least once per week in water heated to around 54°C (130°F).
- Buy washable and dust-mite-proof bedding.
- While you can always vacuum your carpets, it’s better not to have them in your home because they’re bad for dust-sensitive individuals.
- Dry-clean your fabric curtains and drapes once or twice per week. Use a damp rag to clean your window blinds.
- Remove dust and pet dander on your upholstered furniture by vacuuming regularly or using a sticky lint roller.
Install exhaust fans for proper ventilation
Daily household activities, like cooking, boiling water, and taking hot showers, could lead to moisture build up. If these moisture-prone areas in your home lack proper ventilation, humidity increases and molds could form. Molds can cause minor to severe respiratory illnesses. One of the simplest things you could do are keeping the windows open and turning on your exhaust fans to prevent moisture build up.
Minimize your exposure to your pet(s)
If you can’t let go of your cats or dogs, at least minimize your contact with them. Wash your hands after touching or petting your cat or dog. Find an area in your home for your pet only. The area should be easy to clean, without carpeting and furniture. Don’t let your pet inside your bedroom or other areas of your home where your family mostly hangs out.
Unlike popular belief, sensitive individuals are not allergic to the hair of these furry animals. They’re allergic to the skin flakes they shed, as well as the sweat on their hair, urine, and proteins from their saliva (known as Can f 1 for dogs and Fel d 1 for cats). Regularly bathing your pet will help reduce the amount of allergen in their dander.
Use dehumidifiers to control humidity levels
Dehumidifiers and air conditioners that can control humidity are important to eliminate two of the most common allergens in your home: molds and dust mites. Dust mites thrive in high moisture environments. When it’s humid, your skin tends to soak up the moisture in the air, which causes your skin cells to slough off. As you might know, dust mites love to eat sloughed-off skin cells.
In order to kill airbone allergens, like dust mites, the humidity levels inside your home should be between 40% and 50%. Most dehumidifiers have built-in humidity gauge, which shuts down the appliance once it reaches the right humidity levels.
Experts don’t recommend a humidity level below 30% because it will cause different complications. For one, it kills and dries out dust mites. And that’s good. But, they become lighter, so they’re easier to carry in the air. This increases the chances of triggering an allergic attack among people with known allergies.
What’s more, dry air could irritate and dry out the airway. This could leave you more susceptible to asthma attacks, common colds, sinusitis, and flu because there’s no snot to trap allergens and germs (viruses and bacteria).
Strengthen Your Immune System
Strengthening your immune system will help your body prevent or fight off ailments, like the common cold and flu. Here are some of the things you can do to strengthen your body’s natural defenses:
Get Enough Sleep
Yes, lack of sleep will increase our chances of getting sick. It’s easy for you to catch colds or flu. The more all-nighters you pull, the more your body is unable to respond to disease-causing germs. Experts recommend getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
Manage Overwhelming Stress
Stress is unavoidable and normal. Chronic overwhelming stress is another story. Unmanaged stress has an indirect impact on your immune system and other organs in your body.
So, always find time to de-stress. Take self-imposed breaks when you feel you’re burning out. Laugh. Be positive. Engage in relaxing activities. Eat stress-fighting foods, such as those rich in zinc, iron, folic acid, and vitamins C, E, and B.
You don’t have to spend countless hours in the gym to enhance your health. Short exercises are more effective anyway. Exercising for 10 to 30 minutes is enough to improve your health. But, it’s important that those brief exercises be of moderate to high intensity.
A poor diet can hurt your body. Drinking or eating too much sugar could suppress your infection-fighting cells for a few hours. People who are under stress tend to reach for unhealthy comfort foods, so again, manage your stress levels.
You can never go wrong with fruits and veggies. If you don’t get enough nutrients through food, ask your doctor for the right supplements for you.
Here are some vitamins that best boost your immune system:
- Vitamin C: Some studies suggest that vitamin C may help you get over your cold faster. However, it can’t help you relieve a stuffy nose. Mayo Clinic recommends taking 75 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C for people age 18 years old and above. Top food sources of this vitamin are yellow bell pepper, guava, kiwifruit, kale, berries, citrus fruits, broccoli, and cooked tomato.
- Bromelain: This enzyme is abundant in pineapples. Studies have suggested that bromelain may be an effective treatment for upper respiratory problems (sinusitis), cough, and hay fever. It may even shorten the duration of sinusitis.  The recommended dosage by the German Commission E is 80 to 320 milligrams daily.
- Zinc gluconate lozenges: A study has shown that taking zinc gluconate lozenges every two hours within twenty-four hours of the beginning of cold symptoms could shorten the duration of the symptoms. 
Don’t take more than eight zinc gluconate lozenges within twenty-four hours for three straight days. A few of its side effects are nausea and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
The color of your snot doesn’t always mean there’s a health problem. So, don’t panic over green snot. The fact that your snot is green means your body is doing its job of protecting your lungs from harmful substances in the air. If it doesn’t go away after more than a week or is accompanied by other symptoms (bad odor, headaches, or serious breathing difficulties), call your doctor immediately.
Have you ever had green snot before? What were the best treatments that worked for you?