Understanding and Managing Post-Nasal Drip

woman in a bright yellow blouse looks uncomfortable and holds her throat while working on a laptop.

The persistent tickle in your throat can be extremely bothersome. No amount of coughing or throat clearing seems to help, and sometimes, you develop a sore throat and hoarseness. You don’t feel sick, but something is surely amiss. Usually, post-nasal drip is caused by an excess of mucus. Here’s how you can understand and find relief from this prevalent condition.

What activates post-nasal drip?

Mucus is essential for safeguarding our nose and throat from infections. However, when the body produces too much mucus, it frequently drips down the back of the throat, causing post-nasal drip.

Conditions including allergies, sinus infections, and the common cold can all trigger post-nasal drip. Inflammation in the nasal passages, triggered by viral or bacterial infections, allergies, or airborne irritants, can also increase mucus production, resulting in congestion and post-nasal drip.

Other factors that can lead to post-nasal drip include:

  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): This condition can cause stomach acids to back up into the throat, increasing the production of mucus.
  • Spicy foods: These can temporarily increase mucus production.
  • Aging: As we age, our bodies might produce more mucus.
  • Certain medications: Birth control pills and high blood pressure medications can trigger post-nasal drip.
  • Cold and dry air: These conditions can trigger the production of mucus.
  • Pregnancy: Increased mucus production can be the result of hormonal changes.
  • Bright lights: Some people may find that exposure to bright lights stimulates a reflex increase in mucus.

Post-nasal drip is an occasional annoyance for the vast majority of people but others may experience it chronically. Seeking some advice from an ENT specialist is the best course of action when this takes place.

Typical post-nasal drip symptoms

Post-nasal drip can present with a variety of symptoms, the most common of which include:

  • Sore throat: Sore and irritated throat.
  • Frequent swallowing: Frequently because of excess mucus.
  • Bad breath: Due to the accumulation of mucus.
  • Coughing: Particularly noticeable at night.
  • Throat clearing: Needing to constantly clear the throat.

In some cases, when post-nasal drip mucus enters the stomach, nausea and vomiting can take place. Painful ear infections can also occur when the eustachian tubes (tubes that connect the throat and nose to the middle ear) become blocked.

Reliable treatments for post-nasal drip

Post-nasal drip can be alleviated by both prescription and at-home remedies.

Home remedies

  • Nasal irrigation: Using a saline solution can help clear out mucus.
  • Avoid caffeine and diuretics: These can result in dehydration and thicker mucus.
  • Stay hydrated: Thin out mucus by drinking plenty of water and other hot liquids.
  • Use humidifiers and nasal steamers: You can stop mucus from thickening by adding moisture to the air.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: Decongestants like Sudafed, and antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Allegra, Xyzal, and Claritin, can be practical. Mucinex and Benadryl are also popular options.
  • Elevate your head: You can prevent mucus from pooling up in your throat by raising your head while you sleep.

Be certain to only use OTC medications in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.

When is it time for professional help?

If at-home solutions and OTC medicines don’t provide relief, it’s essential to talk to an ENT specialist. Depending on the underlying cause, treatments may consist of prescription nasal sprays or other specific therapies.

How can you prevent post-nasal drip

Here are some preventative measures that can help keep post-nasal drip at bay:

  • Use daily allergy medications: Consider taking an allergy pill everyday.
  • Shower at night: Particularly if you’ve been outside during the day, to remove allergens.
  • Keep a clean environment: Keep your living space as clean and free of dust as possible.
  • Change filters regularly: Regularly replace HVAC filters to ensure clean air circulation.
  • Avoid allergens: Identify and steer clear of allergens that activate your symptoms.

Call us today so we can help you with chronic post-nasal drip particularly if OTC solutions aren’t helping.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Questions? Talk To Us.