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Doctor insights on: Yellow Mucus Viral Or Bacterial

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Dr. John Chiu
Board Certified, Allergy and Immunology
51 years in practice
21M people helped
1

1
Had cold: fever, sinus pressure, headache, runny nose. Now still coughing for 1.5 months w mucous. Viral or bacterial infect? Need antibiotics? Which?

Had cold: fever, sinus pressure, headache, runny nose. Now still coughing for 1.5 months w mucous. Viral or bacterial infect? Need antibiotics? Which?

Sinus infection: 10% of people get a sinus infection after a cold. If the problem has been present for over 1.5 months, you should see your doctor for antibiotic. There are two classes of antibiotics which work well for sinusitis but Z pak is not one of them. (We are not supposed to provide the name of specific medication on this site) ...Read more

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Dr. Adam Smith
Board Certified
11 years in practice
381K people helped
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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


Dr. Joel Gallant
Board Certified, Infectious Disease
30 years in practice
10M people helped
2

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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. Adam Smith
Board Certified
11 years in practice
381K people helped
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Dr. Matt Wachsman
Board Certified, Internal Medicine
30 years in practice
4M people helped
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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. Harold Kim
Board Certified, ENT and Head and Neck Surgery
22 years in practice
712K people helped
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4
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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Dr. Adam Smith
Board Certified
11 years in practice
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Dr. Joyce Fiedler
Board Certified, Internal Medicine
23 years in practice
785K people helped
5

5
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. John Goldman
Board Certified, Rheumatology
49 years in practice
15M people helped
6

6
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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Dr. Richard Wieder
Board Certified, Ophthalmology
29 years in practice
817K people helped
7

7
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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Dr. Nestor Del rosario
Board Certified, Addiction Medicine
28 years in practice
1M people helped
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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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Dr. Timothy Jeffreys
Board Certified, Pediatrics
28 years in practice
29K people helped
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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. Adam Smith
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