Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on October 01, 2014


The Truth about Mucus, WebMD Feature. Cold and Flu Health Center, WebMD.

© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

WebMD Archive

Video Transcript

Narrator: Myth or fact? Snot can be good for you.

: Ding!

Laura Martin, MD, MPH: We all need mucus, we all need snot, snot is a good thing.

Michael Smith, MD: Producing mucus will help clear your sinuses, help clear your nasal passages.

Laura Martin, MD, MPH: And the snot and the mucus, they help keep our mucous membranes moist and protect them from getting dry and cracked.

Michael Smith, MD: It's just when you have a cold or some kind of upper respiratory infection, you produce more of that so you are more aware of all the drainage.

Narrator: Myth or fact? When snot changes color, you need an antibiotic.

: Buzzer

Michael Smith, MD: A lot of people think yellow or green snot means you need an antibiotic. That is not true.

Laura Martin, MD, MPH: If it's a viral infection causing the yellow or green snot, yellow in particular is very common with viral cold infections. Antibiotics are really not useful for that.

Michael Smith, MD: It's OK to have yellow or green snot, but if it persists for seven to 10 days, then you probably should let your doctor know. That may mean that you have developed a bacterial infection, sinus infection, possible bronchitis, but for few days, it's nothing to worry about.

: Achoo!

Narrator: Myth or fact? Water helps get rid of snot.

: Ding!

Michael Smith, MD: The best way to get rid of mucus is to keep it wet. Drink plenty of water or other fluids.

Laura Martin, MD, MPH: Another thing that could be helpful is just a plain saline nasal spray, which is a salt water spray.

Michael Smith, MD: You can use those as often as you want -- help moisturize your nasal passages and keep that mucus thin.

Michael Smith, MD: Nasal Irrigation is a great one as well. You may know it by "neti pot." It really helps get rid of the snot, the excess mucus, the germs, keeps it moist, it keeps you feeling better.