Post nasal drip is irritating. It can cause congestion, a cough and a sore throat. It feels as though liquid is running down the back of your throat, and in many cases, it is. Post nasal drip is actually part of a condition called rhinitis – an inflammation of the lining of the nose.
Post nasal drip, its causes and treatments
Post nasal drip occurs when mucus accumulates in the back of the nose. The mucus may drip down the back of the throat, either because there is excessive buildup, and/or because the nose is blocked and there is no way for the mucus to run out the nose. In reality, mucus mixes with saliva and exits down the throat daily. We don’t notice it until it becomes thick and there is more of it than usual.
The main symptom of post nasal drip is the sensation that fluid is running down the back of the nose but other symptoms can include a nagging cough, hoarseness, congestion, or a sore throat.1
Post nasal drip can be caused by myriad conditions or substances and, interestingly, what causes the condition in one person may not cause it in another. Some of the causes of post nasal drip include:
- The common cold
- Seasonal allergies, which are also called allergic rhinitis
- Sinus infections
- Deviated septum
- Swallowing problems
- Extremely cold or dry air
- Dust or other particles in the air
- Objects stuck in the nose
Unfortunately, post nasal drip can also lead to health problems. When mucus builds up in the airway, nagging coughs can ensue. Left untreated, the cough may cause a sore throat which can lead to an ear infection (if it clogs the small tube that runs from the throat to the ear) and a sinus infection (if it clogs the sinus cavities).
It’s important to consult with a physician if you suffer with chronic post nasal drip. It may be caused by a bacterial infection, and if so, antibiotics may be prescribed. However, if the infection is viral, antibiotics won’t help. Your doctor will be able to diagnose the cause of your post nasal drip and advise if OTC meds such as antihistamines and decongestants will relieve any of the symptoms. It’s especially important to see your physician if the mucus is yellow or green, if there is blood in it, if it smells bad or foul, and/or if you run a fever.
In addition to medications and the antibiotics that may be prescribed by your physician, there are home remedies that may help ease your symptoms:
- Humidifier’s help moisten the lining of the nose and thin the mucus
- Neti pots irrigate the nose with saline solution
- Sleeping position – sleep in an elevated position
- Fluids – drink fluids such as warm tea to loosen and thin the mucus
If you have post nasal drip don’t hesitate to consult your physician. It may be one of the most irritating conditions, but it can also be treated easily. There is no need to lose sleep to congestion, coughing and mucus running down the back of your throat.