When excess mucus develops in the back of the nose and throat, post-nasal drip arises. Although post-nasal drip is not considered a medical condition, it may be a symptom of sinusitis, rhinitis, or another medical condition that leads to excessive mucus production. Here, we’ll dive deeper into the causes, symptoms, and treatments of post-nasal drip.
Causes of Post-Nasal Drip
The excess mucus that causes post-nasal drip may be the result of the cold, flu, allergies, sinusitis, pregnancy, birth control or blood pressure medications, a deviated septum, changing weather conditions, certain foods, fumes from chemicals, smoke, or cleaning products.
Symptoms of Post-Nasal Drip
When a patient is living with post-nasal drip, they typically feel like they constantly want to clear their throat. Post-nasal drip may also cause a cough which worsens at night. It is actually one of the most common reasons why a cough persists. In addition, post-nasal drip may make a patient feel hoarse and leave them with a scratchy throat. An ear infection may occur as well.
Diagnosis of Post-Nasal Drip
To diagnose the cause of post-nasal drip, a doctor will ask a patient questions about their symptoms and examine their ears, nose, and throat. They will want to know if any allergy or infection symptoms are present. Sometimes, x-rays and other tests may be necessary to pinpoint the cause.
Treatment of Post-Nasal Drip
Fortunately, there are a number of at-home treatments that may relieve post-nasal drip. Over-the-counter medications such as Sudafed may reduce congestion and eliminate this condition. There are also non-drowsy antihistamines like Claritin which can help.
Saline nasal sprays may reduce symptoms of post-nasal drip by adding moisture to the nasal passages. In addition, there are nasal irrigation tools such as neti pots or sinus rinses, which may remove excess mucus.
Lastly, sleeping with a slightly elevated head and drinking plenty of water can promote healthy drainage and keep the nasal passages full of moisture.
When to Seek Medical Attention for Post-Nasal Drip
Patients who have tried home treatments for post-nasal drip and have not found relief after 10 days are encouraged to visit a doctor. In addition, green, yellow, or bloody mucus, mucus with a strong odor, fever, and wheezing may all signify that medical attention is necessary.
If a bacterial infection is present, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. In the event a patient has a deviated septum, a surgery known as a septoplasty may be performed to straighten and center the nasal septum.
Prevention of Post-Nasal Drip
Reducing allergen exposure as much as possible is the ideal way to prevent post-nasal drip. This can be done by taking daily allergy medication, maintaining a clean, dust-free home, using mattress and pillow covers, changing air filters, and showering before bed after spending time outside.