The membrane linings of your nose, throat, airways and other organs produce a thick, wet fluid called mucus. Mucus helps moisten and protect these areas from germs like bacteria and viruses by trapping and destroying them. Just your nose and throat make up to two quarts of mucus per day.
Mucus that comes from your nose normally combines with saliva and drips into your throat so you can swallow it. You probably don’t pay much attention to that process unless it changes. When your mucus membranes create more mucus than normal it becomes more obvious to you.
When the excess mucus comes out of your nose into a tissue, you obviously have a runny nose. When it drips from the back of your nose into your throat, you have postnasal drip.
Another mechanism of postnasal drip is a block in mucus flow out of your nose rather than simply making too much. This blockage may occur with nasal polyps (soft, noncancerous, teardrop-shaped tissue in your nose) or excessive swelling of your membranes.
Symptoms of Postnasal Drip:
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Feeling like you need to constantly clear your throat
- Cough which is worse at night
- Sore throat
- Ear or sinus infections
- Reduced sense of taste or smell
- Facial and forehead pressure and pain
Causes of Postnasal Drip:
Postnasal drip common culprits include a cold, flu, sinus infection or even your allergies. Other obvious causes exist like spicy foods, weather changes and tobacco smoke and other irritants. Kids can get objects stuck in the noses that block outflow of mucus. Pregnancy can cause postnasal drip through retaining more body fluids. Finally, medications for blood pressure, birth control and erectile dysfunction may cause your symptoms.
Treatment Options for Postnasal Drip:
- Lifestyle modifications – following up on your allergy testing results, we can help you avoid exposure to specific allergens that trigger your postnasal drip
- Medications – bacterial sinus infections may be treated with antibiotics, but thick yellow or green mucus may not be from a bacterial infection and may require antihistamines and decongestants
- Allergen immunotherapy – allergy injections help desensitize your body and nasal membranes to your unique triggering allergens, to reduce inflammation and symptoms of postnasal drip