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Doctor insights on: Yellow Mucus Viral Or Bacterial

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How do you know if thick yellow/green mucous is bacterial or viral and if antibiotics are needed? Don't want unnecessary antibiotics.

How do you know if thick yellow/green mucous is bacterial or viral and if antibiotics are needed?  Don't want unnecessary antibiotics.

Bronchitis: The color and thickness of the mucus tells you nothing. By itself, it's not a reason for antibiotics. If you also had fever, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain, then you should be checked for pneumonia. ...Read more

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Dr. Arnon Rubin
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Mucus (Definition)

Like material that functions to moisten and protect inner body surfaces. The viscous slippery substance that consists chiefly of mucin, water, cells, and inorganic salts and that is secreted as a protective lubricant coating by the cells and glands of the mucous membranes. The free slime of the mucous membranes, composed of secretion of the glands, various salts, ...Read more


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Can cough, greenish yellow phlegm/mucus and head/ear congestion persist for awhile after a viral URI? Feel better except for these things. No fever.

Can cough, greenish yellow phlegm/mucus and head/ear congestion persist for awhile after a viral URI? Feel better except for these things. No fever.

Maybe: without an exam, I can only give general information, but classically after an inflammatory process in the upper respiratory area, the body is more susceptible to secondary infection with whatever germs are there. Strep and mouth germs are the most common causes and these often require antibiotics. ...Read more

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Dr. Arnon Rubin
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Over week of sinus problems. Nasal congestion & a lot of pressure. Blowing nose alot. Today mucus is neon green, now egg yolk yellow is this bacterial?

Over week of sinus problems. Nasal congestion & a lot of pressure. Blowing nose alot. Today mucus is neon green, now egg yolk yellow is this bacterial?

Likely not: Yellowish, greenish pus is consistent with a bacterial infection though a viral sinusitis can also produce similar symptoms. Bacterial sinusitis is much more severe in symptoms, though. ...Read more

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Coughing up mucus from lungs. Its yellowish green and it tastes horrible. Does that mean it's bacterial or viral?

Coughing up mucus from lungs. Its yellowish green and it tastes horrible. Does that mean it's bacterial or viral?

Productive cough: We used to think that colored mucus was a sure sign of a bacterial infection, but that is not always the case. Often, discolored mucus may be draining from the sinuses vs the lungs. Get an evaluation if this persists. ...Read more

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Dr. Arnon Rubin
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Coughing up thick clear mucus with white specks for a couple weeks also gave either a stuffy or runny nose with it. Is this viral bacterial or allergy?

Coughing up thick clear mucus with white specks for a couple weeks also gave either a stuffy or runny nose with it. Is this viral bacterial or allergy?

Hard to say: this is hard to differentiate elegy versus bacterial versus viral on the appearance of the mucus. Usually with infection the mucus can be green, red, or have blood on it, this is best discussed with your physician to help clarify which of these it may be or if it's something else. There are other lung problems that we might consider beyond the three you describe ...Read more

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2 1/2 weeks ago developed bronchitis - 1 wk w/amox - dr wouldn't prescribe more - said this was prob viral - now it's in my head & sinuses & cough - yellow mucus & phlegm. It's prob still viral, right?

2 1/2 weeks ago developed bronchitis - 1 wk w/amox - dr wouldn't prescribe more - said this was prob viral - now it's in my head & sinuses & cough - yellow mucus & phlegm. It's prob still viral, right?

Bronchitis: Your infection may be viral but could also be caused by a bacteria that was not adequately treated by amoxicillin. If your symptoms persist, you should have your md evaluate this further. There are also other medications that could help your symptoms as well. ...Read more

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What are the symptoms and mucus appearance due to fungal lung infection (vs. Bacterial or viral)? How are fungal lung infections diagnosed?

What are the symptoms and mucus appearance due to fungal lung infection (vs. Bacterial or viral)?  How are fungal lung infections diagnosed?

Diagnosis: Mucus appearance does not give us diagnosis nor really give us a clue as to type of most of the time even the presence of infection. Lung infections with fungi are diagnosed when a person who had been to an area endemic for a fungus presents with symptoms, cxr taken, some clues are seen, and either a titer (blood reaction) or sputum by expectoration or fob, stains positive and grows the fungus. ...Read more

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I have sore throat with congestion and have been blowing out green mucus. Head also hurts an ears pain little bit. Is this viral or bacterial? Pls hlp

I have sore throat with congestion and have been blowing out green mucus. Head also hurts an ears pain little bit. Is this viral or bacterial? Pls hlp

Green mucus headache: It is difficult to say, majority of patients with symptoms like yours are self limiting and caused by viruses, i will wait and if dont feel better and have fever will go to the doctor.You can use saline nose spray and some decongestant like sudafed. ...Read more

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Bacteria (Definition)

Are omnipresent single celled organisms which are the both the simplest form of life and the original form of life on earth. The are ...Read more


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Dr. Arnon Rubin
Board Certified, Internal Medicine
18 years in practice
154K people helped
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