What is postnasal drip?
The nose, throat, and sinuses are all constantly producing mucus. Mucus is a thick and slippery substance that helps to keep the airways from drying out throughout the day.
The air people breathe is full of germs, pollen, and other environmental pollutants. When the air enters the body, these particles can create problems if they are not filtered out. It is the job of mucus to trap these foreign bodies and help eliminate them.
Mucus usually goes unnoticed. It harmlessly mixes with saliva throughout the day and is swallowed or blown from the nose. However, if the body produces too much mucus, it becomes much more noticeable.
When this happens, a person may feel mucus dripping down the back of their throat. This is what is known as postnasal drip.
How common is postnasal drip?
Postnasal drip is extremely common. It can occur in patients in any gender at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Which signs and symptoms can postnasal drip usually be associated with?
Related signs and symptoms include:
- Sore or scratchy throat
- Feelings of nausea caused by extra mucus in the stomach
- Frequently clearing the throat
- Excessive spitting up or swallowing mucus
- Foul breath
- A cough that gets worse at night
What causes postnasal drip?
A number of conditions can cause postnasal drip. Allergies are one of the most common. If you get tested for allergies, you can better avoid your triggers or premedicate if you know you’ll be exposed.
Another common cause is a deviated septum, which means that the thin wall of cartilage between your nostrils (or septum) is displaced or leans to one side. This makes one nasal passage smaller, and can prevent proper mucus drainage that results in postnasal drip.
Other causes of postnasal drip include:
- Cold temperatures
- Viral infections resulting in the cold or flu
- Sinus infections
- Changes in the weather
- Dry air
- Spicy foods
certain medications, including some blood pressure and birth control prescriptions
In some cases, the problem causing postnasal drip isn’t excessive mucus, but your throat’s inability to clear it. Swallowing problems or gastric reflux can cause liquids to build up in your throat, which feels like postnasal drip.
The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of postnasal drip. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
What increases my risk for postnasal drip?
There are many risk factors for postnasal drip, such as:
- Coldsand flu
- Sinus infection or sinusitis
- Foreign object stuck in the nose
- Certain medications (for example,birth control pills and blood pressure medications)
- Deviated septum or another abnormalities of the sinuses
- Weather conditions
- Certain foods (for example, spicy foods).
- Fumes from chemicals, perfumes, cleaning products, smoke, or other irritants.
- Swallowing problemsand gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Please consult with your doctor for further information.
When to see your doctor
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you or your loved one has any of the following:
- Postnasal drip that persists through home treatments for more than 10 days
- Green, yellow, or bloody mucus
- Mucus with a strong odor
On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage postnasal drip?
These following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with postnasal drip:
- Over-the-counter decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can help reduce congestion and eliminate postnasal drip.
- Newer, nondrowsy antihistamines like loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin) can work to get rid of postnasal drip. However, these are more effective after you take them for several days.
- Saline nasal sprays can help moisten your nasal passages and reduce symptoms of postnasal drip. If you have continual problems with postnasal drip, your doctor may prescribe a cortisone steroid nasal spray. Sinus irrigation tools like neti pots or sinus rinses like those from NeilMed can also flush out excess mucus.
- Sleeping with your head slightly elevated can also promote proper drainage.
- Staying hydrated is just as important to prevent postnasal drip as it is to treat it. Drinking warm or hot liquid, like tea or chicken soup, can thin out mucus and prevent dehydration. And as always, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. This also thins out mucus and keeps your nasal passages moistened, relieving discomfort.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: December 20, 2018 | Last Modified: December 20, 2018