Post nasal drip

Post nasal drip

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Your body continually makes mucous throughout the day. It is specifically made by the glands and cells lining the sinus passages. Its function is to trap tiny particles such as dust etc and stop them filtering into our breathing system. That is why it is sticky and thick. Although mucous normally is swallowed, occasionally it causes a sensation of dripping from the back of the nose. This sensation is called post nasal drip (PND).

This feeling can be caused by thickened mucous secretions or even excessive mucous, or even by throat or muscle disorders. The secret to clearing post nasal drip up in a healthy way is to thin the nasal secretions to allow them to drain more readily, whilst actively looking at the cause of the excess secretions.

The excess mucus production that triggers postnasal drip has a number of possible causes, including:


  • Flu.

  • Allergies (called allergic postnasal drip).

  • Sinus infection or sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses).

  • Object stuck in the nose (more common in children).

  • Pregnancy.

  • Certain medications (including birth control pills and blood pressure medications).

  • Deviated septum (abnormal placement of the wall that separates the two nostrils) or another anatomical problem that affects the sinuses.

  • Changing weather fronts, cold temperatures, or excess dryness in the air.

  • Certain foods (for example, spicy foods can trigger mucus flow).

  • Fumes from chemicals, perfumes, cleaning products, smoke, or other irritants.

  • Sometimes the problem is not that you're producing too much mucus, but rather that it's not being cleared away effectively. Swallowing problems can cause a buildup of liquids in the throat, which can feel like postnasal drip. These problems can occur with age, a blockage, or conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Some lifestyles changes and changes to your environment may be required to prevent the condition from reoccurring. Avoid allergens by regularly bathing pets, removing plants from the house, closing windows during pollen season, and covering pillows and mattresses with dust-proof covers. Dust and vacuum regularly. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water; this prevents thickening of the mucus. Consider cutting dairy out of your diet as this may aggravate sinus problems. If you are a smoker, stop smoking.

Post-nasal drip is at best irritating, can be painful, and tends to lead to additional health problems. It is important to seek medical help if it does not improve after taking over the counter remedies. If left untreated you could develop a chronic cough, or ear, throat, or sinus infections. It also causes halitosis, which is more commonly known as bad breath.


People who experience post-nasal drip often describe a feeling of mucus dripping at the back of the throat. This may lead to frequent throat clearing, sore throat, and coughing. Since post-nasal drip is a symptom of another condition, other symptoms may be present that are linked to whatever's causing the problem. When allergies are responsible for post-nasal drip, many people experience teary eyes, itchiness of the nose and eyes, and headaches. If you have asthma, the post-nasal drip may make breathing even more difficult.

Other symptoms associated with post-nasal drip may include bad breath, stuffy nose, hoarse voice, or coughing.


The first step is to figure out what is causing the post-nasal drip. Your doctor will help with this by asking questions about your symptoms and examining your ears, nose, and throat. Your doctor will want to know if you have any allergy symptoms or if you have symptoms of an infection (e.g., fever). In some cases, other tests (e.g., X-rays) may be needed to determine the cause.

The type of mucus in your nose can reveal a lot about possible causes of nasal drip. If the mucus is clear, a common cold or allergies are most likely. If it is thick and has a yellow or green tinge, a bacterial infection may have developed.


If the root of the problem is a bacterial infection, post-nasal drip can be treated with antibiotics. Antihistamines and decongestants can be used to treat post-nasal drip caused by allergies. Speak to your pharmacist about nasal sprays that can be used on a longer term basis and that do not cause rebound congestion. Choose an antihistamine that does not cause mucus to thicken as this can aggravate the condition. Humidifiers and nasal saline can be used to thin mucus. If the problem is caused by medication, speak to your doctor to find an alternative. If you are not sure what is causing the post-nasal drip, make an appointment to visit your physician.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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