What is Post-Nasal Drip?
Post-nasal drip is a condition that causes your body to produce excess mucus. The excess mucus can drip down the back of the throat, giving you the feeling that you need to clear your throat more than normal. While some over-the-counter remedies exist to address post-nasal drip, certain cases of post-nasal drip should be examined and treated by your ENT specialist.
Causes of Post-Nasal Drip
Mucus is produced in your sinuses and serves two main purposes: to keep your airways from drying out and to help capture germs and other pollutants so that your body can dispose of them. Normal mucus production will typically go unnoticed by people as it is usually swallowed or blown out (into a tissue).
The excess mucus produced when you are affected by post-nasal drip is typically a result of changes in your environment or changes to your body. Seasonal allergens (pollen from trees, grasses, weeds) are an environmental change that may trigger your body to produce excess mucus.
Other potential causes of post-nasal drip can include the following:
- Cold weather
- Colds or the flu
- Sinus infections
- Foreign objects lodged in the nose
- Chronic respiratory conditions
- Consumption of spicy foods
- Medications, such as birth control or blood pressure medications
- Deviated septum
- Chemical fumes, perfumes, hair spray, cleaning products
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Post-Nasal Drip
The following are the most common symptoms experienced by people affected by post-nasal drip:
- The feeling of mucus dripping down your throat
- Needing to clear your throat more often
- Sore throat
- Additional spitting or swallowing of spit or mucus
- Bad breath
If you experience any of the following regarding your symptoms, visit your ENT specialist for treatment:
- Symptoms lasting more than a few days
- Off-colored mucus that does not clear up
- Fever or bad smelling mucus or spit
Your ENT specialist will typically perform a physical examination, analyze your symptoms, consider your conditions, and potentially perform a series of tests to check for post-nasal drip.
Treatments for Post-Nasal Drip
Over-the-counter and home remedies for post-nasal drip include the following:
- Decongestant medication to help dry out the excess mucus
- Thin the mucus with over-the-counter medications
- Nasal sprays
- Use a humidifier in your home to increase the humidity and moisture present in the air
Treatment from your ENT specialist will depend on the root cause that they determine. Professional treatment may involve the following:
- Antibiotics if you have a cold or infection
- Prescribed antihistamines or decongestants if you have sinusitis or a viral infection
- Steroid nasal sprays if you have allergies