Is yellow mucus/sputum normal for asthmatics?

My asthma/allergist doctor told me that yellow mucus is normal when our lungs are inflamed. Just wanted to get every ones opinion. Will a sputum test determine on all types bacteria if its present or have to be tested differently. Someone told me....certain bacteria test like ( MAC ) have to be tested differently than a regular sputum test.

23 Replies

Hi some time ago my respiratory nurse said my yellowish sputum was normal for someone with allergic asthma....but now it is either clear or white unless I have an infection...and I am still asthmatic.

Hi I asthma and copd and the only time mine is yellow is when I have an infection. x

Hi Sagittarius again, when my sputum was yellowish for years, I often felt like I had a mild dose of flu all the time with night sweats, but all sputum tests came back negative except when I had bad exacerbations.

Since being on this site though I have learned the huffing technique and I find it easier to cough up any stuff that may be lurking at the bottom of my lungs.

I don't know how long any sputum bacteria are viable long the wait should be between production and test.

Take care

Sorry.....predictive text got your name wrong....and I couldn't face writing the reply out again......apologies.

You got it short for Sagittarius...LOL...Not a problem. Thanks for your reply. You mentioned your sputum was yellowish for years, how is it now?

Hi , sputum is whitish at the moment and my cough is worse, no's normally clear now. Still have asthma though so I don't understand my respiratory nurse saying that the yellowish sputum I had for years was a side effect of my asthma.

I have had many courses of antibiotics since then....mainly Doxy. I also took garlic perles for a while....but they are not suitable for lots of people, especially those on aspirin, warfarin take advice first.

I think one reason many asthmatics get infections as the mucus produced is a good breeding ground..mine started after pneumonia. Now I have been diagnosed with COPD too.

I will read your articles...thanks. I used to be certain that I had a long term lung infection, but most tests were negative. My daughters asthma started after they had chest infections many years ago now.

Thanks for the for thought.

Hi Knitter,

Thanks for your reply. I really believe that we have to do our own research sometimes and keep an open mind. I found this blog because I was so determine to find a solution for my asthma..... and I'm still researching. I'm not against medication because we need it..... but I have a list in my file of alternative natural medication that helps with our condition. The link I shared with you all is something to really look at. If you look at everyone who is taking medication...look at the data and the pattern of long term use. The more reason I want to find something safer and pray for a "CURE" someday. The more we share our findings or research, the more it will benefit us all.

That's why I love this forum because we can all share and help eachother.

What is the huffing technique

you would have to ask Knitter on that questions ....look above and go to his page. That would be good know...let me know if you find out. Sometimes I get congested and nothing comes out.

Hi Knitter...I also have been coughing up phlegm for a year now, and have night sweats with flu like symptoms. What did you do to get over it?

Yellow is an infection :)

Thank you all for your reply's.......wondering why some doctors don't know the answers. I do know from researching that most asthmatics have a type of bacteria in their lungs that's hard to get rid off... like...The Bacteria Chlamydia Pneumoniae. Here is one story about it that's pretty interesting. Let me know your thought about this. I always wonder why most asthmatics gets a lot of lung infections. Read and explore the whole website.....something to research further for all of us who has a respiratory disease.

The Story

About the Bacteria

Hi saggitar, three cats had pneumonia and then a chronic cough and asthma was diagnosed by the vet.

Web MD:

Why Does My Mucus Change Color?

If you've ever stopped to look at the contents of the tissue after you've blown your nose, you may have noticed that your mucus isn't always perfectly clear. It may be yellow, green, or have a reddish or brownish tinge to it. What do those colors mean?

You might have heard that yellow or green mucus is a clear sign that you have an infection, but despite that common misperception, the yellow or green hue isn't due to bacteria.

When you have a cold, your immune system sends white blood cells called neutrophils rushing to the area. These cells contain a greenish-colored enzyme, and in large numbers they can turn the mucus the same color.

But "you can have perfectly clear mucus and have a terrible ear and sinus infection ," Kao says. If you do have an infection, you'll likely also have other symptoms, such as congestion, fever, and pressure in your face, overlying the sinuses .

Multi-hued mucus also relates to concentration of the mucus. Thick, gooey mucus is often greenish, Kao says.

Mucus can also contain tinges of reddish or brownish blood , especially if your nose gets dried out or irritated from too much rubbing, blowing, or picking. Most of the blood comes from the area right inside the nostril, which is where most of the blood vessels in the nose are located. A small amount of blood in your mucus isn't anything to worry about, but if you're seeing large volumes of it, call your doctor.

Hi Soulsaver,

Thank you....GREAT INFO....I have read that too...I always love to ask because it seems everyone has a different findings on mucus/sputum color.

So what do you think if someone has a yellowish thick mucus being expelled daily specially in the fever or any type of cold symptoms ?

Thank you for your reply....Great info.

Soulsaver you make my Doctor sound like an amateur - or are you quoting from the internet? Either way, very interesting. Thanks.

It's an extract from Web MD. To save you having to go to it, I cut & paste it. I include the web addy so people can see where I got it from and form their own opinion.

I've always been aware that even green muck isn't necessarily infected. It pale stuff can builds up in your airway or throat overnight and the air you breath evaporates it making it more concentrated than what you may see in the day - so a darker colour.

It'll also be tinged by what you had to drink before bed - coffee and a chocolate biccie will have you worried in the morning if you weren't aware.

If you've got other symptoms, too, increased mucous volume, temperature, headache etc get it a sample checked.

Best wishes.

It's also interesting ....if you ask a group of people about their mucus color on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Some might answer... "Its only yellow/greenish when I have an infection but mostly clear." I guess the best thing to do is just get a sputum test if your curious.

Then we have to find out if a common sputum test ..would be different from other bad bacteria that lingers in your lungs. The comment I made earlier on this post about different types of bacteria .... I was told that it might be different testing for certain type of bacteria. Maybe that's why it comes out normal sometimes because it wasn't found on the sputum, even thought you feel like you have an infection. So, the question is.....what type of sputum test did they do, or is there only one TYPE OF TEST????

Dear Saggitar,

Have just spent the past 6 weeks having a rerun of most of the test I originally had before my diagnosis of Bronc, Copd and my pre-existing Asthma and Hayfever. My consultant was hoping to try to alleviate the symptoms of the Asthma/Hayfever to help calm the other two horrors down. Unfortunately this can't be done as I'm on the maximum amount of medication for it without turning into a zombie.

I have had to supply 6 mucus samples over a period of two weeks and all of them were clear of infection. The colour of the individual samples ranged from white to green with blood in it. My consultant said for me it was normal to range from white to green in one day so now I have to provide a mucus sample once a month which is tested just in case as I don't feel that I have a infection until I become very ill.

Not sure if this is of much help, I guess like anything to do with our lungs we all seem to have different symptoms.



Hi Sue,

Thanks for the info on your mucus test. My research is.... would a normal sputum test would find any type of infection present like really bad bacteria, or would it be a different type of test for certain type of bacteria in the lungs.

thank you for you reply,


Yellow sputum, for me, means an infection, however many sputum sample come back as negative for infection, this does not mean that there is no infection but, more often, it simply has not been recognised. Different infections have to be treated differently, they grow on different media. Without a history of what you "normally "get infected with it could take many negatives before the problem is found. When my sputum is green (corrected from yellow) it would mean that there is Pseudomonas present. This does not help a lot as I am chronically infected with it, other things like ESR and CRP are used to find the level of inflamation (infection).

The ESR and C-reactive protein (CRP) are both markers of inflammation. Generally, ESR does not change as rapidly as the concentration of CRP, either at the start of inflammation or as it goes away. CRP is not affected by as many other factors as is ESR, making it a better marker of some types of inflammation. However, because ESR is an easily performed test and CRP must be done using sophisticated laboratory equipment, many doctors still use ESR as an initial test when they think a patient has inflammation.

Bronchiectasis sufferers sputum can take weeks to get a particular infection so your history on the blood test forms is needed to narrow down the possibilities.

I am not sure if I have helped but to sum it up, in my opinion yellow means infection but it does not always need treatment. In my case it green (corrected from yellow) means Pseudomonas Aeruginosa infection. Good luck.

Sorry for the late reply....Thank you for your explanation. I'm going to test my sputum. I have had yellow mucus for a long time and mostly in the mornings. I'm going demand a sputum test to find out what I might have.

I notice that lately when I have an orgasm I get very short of breath with yellow mucus in my lungs. Terrible. Any feedback? I am 57

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