According to pediatric nurse practitioner Christine Ahrens, mucus (or snot) is one of the ways our body protects itself. Mucus is actually constantly present in our nose, throat, and lungs to protect against harmful bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. The human body also constantly produces mucus to fight germs.
During illness, the immune system begins to produce even more mucus. It consists of a mixture of water, protein and salt. The sticky consistency of mucus traps harmful microorganisms and other unwanted particles, preventing them from penetrating further into the body.
Also, our nose sometimes becomes red during illness. This is because the immune system, in addition to producing mucus, sends additional white blood cells to the source of infection. These white blood cells dilate the blood vessels in the area, causing the skin to turn red.
Snot can be not only clear, but also yellow or green. As white blood cells fight infection, they secrete chemicals that can cause mucus to turn yellow. It may turn green if more leukocytes are needed for healing.
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