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Post Nasal Drip

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Post-Nasal Drip: What Causes it & What Cures it?

By Dr. Kristie

If you experience a persistent cough and often feel mucous collecting in the back of the throat, you may be suffering from a common condition known as post-nasal drip or post-nasal drainage. The symptoms of post-nasal drip are annoying and can become chronic in some cases. When mucous drainage becomes chronic it can create other problems such as hoarseness and bad breath – not symptoms most people want to deal with. What causes post-nasal drainage and what can you do about it?

What are the Symptoms of Post-Nasal Drainage?

Most people who have post-nasal drip complain of the sensation of mucous sticking in the back of their throat. This can lead to a chronic, persistent cough that’s most pronounced in the morning or when lying flat in bed at night. Post-nasal drainage can trigger sleep problems and snoring – making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Some people also experience nausea when too much mucous builds up in back of the throat.

What Causes Post-Nasal Drainage?

The most common cause is allergy which may be seasonal, such as hay fever, or non-seasonal type allergic reactions to dustanimal dander, or dust mites. Inflammation of the sinuses due to infection can also cause post-nasal drainage and the symptoms usually resolve once the infection is cleared - unless there are underlying allergies. Pregnant women are more susceptible to post-nasal drip because they experience a condition known as pregnancy rhinitis where the nasal passages become inflamed from hormonal fluctuations. In some cases, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD can cause symptoms of post-nasal drip. Post-nasal drainage is also more common in people who have nasal polyps or a deviated septum.

Causes of Post-Nasal Drip: What Can You Do About It?

The goal in treating post-nasal drainage is to thin the thick, mucous secretions. This can be done by drinking more water and using guaifenesin-based medications available over-the-counter such as Mucinex. Running a humidifier at night can improve hydration and help to thin out thick secretions that cause symptoms. Nasal saline sprays are also helpful for reducing post-nasal drainage. This approach should always be tried first since it’s natural and doesn’t involve use of medications.

If the symptoms don’t resolve, an over-the-counter decongestant may help. If the symptoms fail to resolve within a week, medical evaluation may be needed to rule out a chronic sinus infection or nasal polyps. Nasal steroids or a prescription decongestant may be used to treat tough cases of post-nasal drip.

The bottom line?

There are a variety of causes of post-nasal drip, but it’s important to rule out nasal polyps or other anatomical problems if the symptoms are persistent.


About the Author

She is a Medical Doctor with a concentration in Family Practice. She also has an undergraduate degree in both Biology and Psychology and masters in Clinical Pathology.

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