Postnasal Drip: What are the Signs and Symptoms?

The Facts About Postnasal Drip

Postnasal Drip
Postnasal drainage, or a postnasal drip, happens when mucus from your nasal passages or sinuses flows down the back of your throat. Some drainage is necessary to help eliminate irritants from the nasal cavity and keep the tissues moist. Still, certain conditions like allergies and infections can cause excessive mucus production, leading to a sore throat or coughing as you try to remove the blockage. It is essential to understand how your nose works to maintain your health and recognize when the symptoms of postnasal drainage require medical attention. Postnasal drainage occurs naturally during your nose’s cleaning process, but certain conditions can aggravate your symptoms. In some cases, your body may produce an excess of mucus or thicker mucus, and in others, the mucus may not clear as quickly as usual, leading to a buildup in the back of your throat.

Typical Causes of Postnasal Drip

• Allergies: pollen, mold, dust, and dander often cause postnasal drip
• Insufficient humidity
• As a person ages, their mucus membranes tend to shrink, which leads to the production of thicker secretions
• GERD, or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritates tissues
• Physical irregularities, including swollen adenoids, enlarged turbinates, or a deviated septum
• Medications that could include antihistamines, antihypertensive, or contraceptives
• Rebound congestion from overusing pseudoephedrine sprays
• Smoking habit (prevents the nasal cilia from clearing mucus)

Common Symptoms of Postnasal Drip

Postnasal drainage can cause various symptoms that can persist for a variable duration, ranging from a few days to several weeks or even months. It is important to note that the underlying cause of postnasal drip can vary and may require different treatment approaches. Therefore, if you experience any of these symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

• Sore throat or difficulty swallowing
• Constant feeling the need to clear your throat
• Sporadic coughing
• Burning sensation in the back of throat from GERD
• Hoarse-sounding voice or losing voice

Throughout the day, your symptoms may vary and worsen after prolonged speaking or lying down. In most cases, postnasal drainage doesn’t require medical attention. However, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor if:

• The symptoms continue for longer than a few weeks
• Difficulty swallowing
• Problems breathing clearly
• Signs of an infection: fever, vomiting, or ear pain

Dealing with Postnasal Drainage

Certain strategies can help in treating a postnasal drip, regardless of its underlying cause:

• Stay hydrated: lubricates throat and keeps mucus thin
• Make use of a humidifier while you’re sleeping.
• Use essential oils in a vaporizer, neti pot, or diffuser.
• Throat lozenges or Acetaminophen for a sore throat
• Saline nasal mist to reduce congestion
• Medications, such as Afrin or other nasal sprays, and antihistamines to help make breathing easier.
• Making use of vapor rubs to ease congestion

In some instances, medical intervention is necessary to alleviate symptoms. In the case of respiratory infections caused by bacteria or fungi, antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed treatment by medical professionals. It is essential to follow the advice of a qualified healthcare provider when seeking treatment for respiratory conditions to ensure the most effective course of action.

We recommend a consultation with a gastroenterologist if you have GERD. The specialist may recommend avoiding fatty and spicy foods, prescribe anti-reflux medication, and suggest sleeping with your head slightly elevated to keep the acid in the stomach. In instances where a deviated septum or other anatomical anomaly is present, surgical intervention may be the sole viable option for attaining a permanent resolution to postnasal drip.

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