Postnasal Drip

November 12, 2012

Postnasal Drip

There are hundreds of minute glands lining your nasal cavity. They produce about 1 to 2 quarts of mucus per day. This wet and gooey secretion moistens your nasal passages and trap bacteria and viruses before they enter your body.

Postnasal Drip

Increased mucus production in the nose can cause runny nose. If the mucus runs back into the throat, it is called postnasal drip. The increased production of mucus can be triggered by a number of factors such as colds, flu, allergies, sinus infections and obstruction in the nose. Pregnancy and certain birth control medications may also cause excessive mucus production. Other causes include cold temperatures, spicy foods and chemical fumes. The gastroesophageal reflux disease may cause swallowing problems that may lead to build up of the mucus in the throat.

Symptoms

Postnasal drip can irritate your throat and trigger cough. You may want to clear your throat constantly. The condition worsens at night. It is the most common cause of chronic cough and sore throat. Mucus plug may block the Eustachian tube and cause painful middle-ear infections.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. Viral infections do not require treatment. The go away in 7 to 10 days. You may be advised to consume large amounts of fluids. Antihistamines and decongestant drops may provide symptomatic relief from postnasal drip. Steroid-based sprays may help individuals with allergies. Although many of these medications are available without a prescription, you should talk to a doctor before starting the treatment as they are associated with several side effects and complications.

Mucus-thinning medications and lots of water can help improve the flow of the mucus. You may use a saline nasal spray to flush out excessive bacteria, mucus and allergens from your nose. You may turn on a vaporizer or humidifier to increase the moisture in the air. Use pillows to raise your head at night. This will prevent the mucus from going back into the throat, and thereby lower the risk of postnasal drip. Wash your sheets and pillowcases often in hot water. Use HEPA filters to purify the air in your house. Talk to your doctor if the symptoms persist for more than 10 days.

Tips

  • Do not smoke. Avoid second hand smoke as well.
  • Use the over-the-counter decongestants as per the instructions on the label. Do not use them for prolonged periods of time.
  • Avoid outdoors when it cold or when the pollen and allergen content in the air is high.
  • Check with your doctor to see if your current prescription medications are causing postnasal drip.

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