Guide To Post Nasal Drip
By Stephen Chandler, MD | 7 April 2022 |
Our nasal lining constantly produces mucus to moisten nasal membranes and cleanse our nasal passages of debris and potentially infectious agents. Most of the time, we naturally swallow this mucus without even realizing it. However, really thick mucus can build up to the point that it resists natural clearing or so much mucus is produced that it feels like its dripping down the back of our throats. This is called post-nasal drip.
Although post-nasal drip is not a serious condition, it can be annoying. For individuals with reactive airway disorders, post-nasal drip may even contribute to worsening cough and breathing difficulty. Understanding post-nasal drip, what causes it and how to treat it can help you take control of your condition.
What Is Post-Nasal Drip?
Post-nasal drip is whenever excess mucus produced by the sinonasal lining runs down the back of your throat. It might be helpful to think of post-nasal drip as being like a runny nose in reverse; the excess mucus goes down your throat instead of out your nostrils. Post-nasal drip can include thin, watery mucus, or the mucus can be thick and discolored.
Post-nasal drip is diagnosed when a doctor performs a detailed examination of the nasopharynx, oropharynx and throat. Such an examination can help to differentiate between an infectious process or one driven by allergy or irritation of the sinonasal lining. If you feel mucus going down the back of your throat, you likely have symptoms of post nasal pathology. In most cases, allergic or irritant post-nasal drip clears up on its own and only results in mild irritation, with individuals having reactive airway disease triggered into mildly worsening asthma symptoms. Infected post nasal drainage can cause a sore throat, cough, bronchitis and pneumonia with asthma disease patients often experiencing more severe breathing problems.
What Causes Post-Nasal Drip?
Most directly, post-nasal drip is caused whenever an excess of mucus is produced. A variety of factors can cause your body to produce this excess mucus. Some of the most common causes for post-nasal drip include:
- Sinus infections
- Spicy food
- Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy
- Certain medications
- Dry air
- Heated air
- Deviated septum
- Acid reflux
Knowing the cause of your post-nasal drip will help you to respond accordingly.
How To Treat Post-Nasal Drip
In most cases, non-infectious post-nasal drip resolves itself. However, it may irritate your throat, induce throat clearing or cough and possibly impact your breathing. If your post-nasal drip is lasting for more than a few weeks, it’s best to contact your doctor.
The treatment for your post-nasal drip will largely depend on its cause. For example, post-nasal drip caused by bacterial infection will be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotics will target bacterial infection. Once the bacterial infection is gone, the post-nasal drip will subside. If you are experiencing post-nasal drip due to allergies, you will most likely be prescribed allergy medication and decongestants.
Many doctors will also prescribe some sort of nasal irrigation system for sinus rinsing. Nasal irrigation will actually help to treat the underlying problem. High-volume, low-pressure irrigation can help to dilute and remove infectious materials from the nasal vault; similarly, nasal rinsing can help to reduce the contact time of allergens and irritants filtered by the nasal lining, helping to minimize symptoms associated with post-nasal drip and allow prescribed nasal sprays to be more effective.
If you are suffering from post-nasal drip, check out the Complete Rinse Sinus Rinse System. This system helps to clear your nasal cavity and control the side effects of your post-nasal drip. The unique design is made with innovative features, reducing the gagging, choking, and ear fullness associated with traditional neti pots and squeezy-bottles.