15 Jun Chronic PostNasal Drip: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Do you constantly—ahem—feel the need to clear your throat? Feel a nagging tickle at the back of your throat that makes you cough? Or perhaps you have difficulty clearing your nose or throat of mucus? Whatever it is, it’s been going on for months. If so, these can be signs you may be suffering from chronic postnasal drip.
What exactly is it? And what can you do about it?
Postnasal drip is a common diagnosis and can happen for a number of reasons. Whatever the cause the problem is a steady trickle of mucus from the back of the sinuses that irritates the throat, can cause a stubborn cough, or other symptoms. Many people suffer from postnasal drip, and in many cases it is temporary and normal.
But what about if it just won’t go away?
When mucus frequently builds up in your throat or drips from the back of your nose, it’s called chronic postnasal drip.
Learn more about to about common causes, symptoms, treatments, and signs it’s time to see a doctor.
You may not realize it, but your body has constant mucus producing factories inside your nose and throat. The glands in the nose and throat normally produce mucus throughout the day and night, which we may not normally notice. Sometimes, however, the mucus can change and become thicker or more excessive than usual, making us more aware of it.
Postnasal drip can be caused by a number of conditions and may linger for weeks or months. The good news is that most of the causes can be quickly identified and most will improve with treatment.
Here are some of the many various potential causes of postnasal drip:
- Sinus inflammation
- Sinus infections
- Certain foods (such as spicy foods)
- Colds or viral infections
- Irritants in the air (i.e. fumes and dust)
- Weather changes or certain weather conditions (particularly cold, dry air)
- Anatomical obstructions (such as a deviated septum or enlarged turbinates)
Postnasal drip can create a variety of symptoms. It can irritate the throat, making you feel like you have to constantly clear your throat or cause it to feel sore or scratchy. It can also cause you to cough or make your voice sound hoarse. Postnasal drip may also make the back of your nose feel blocked from mucus and even cause your ears to feel clogged or painful.
Symptoms of post-nasal drip can include:
- Feeling that mucus is draining into your throat
- You swallow a lot
- You feel the need to frequently clear your throat
- Your speech is raspy or hoarse
- Irritated, sore, itchy and/or scratchy throat
- Tickling feeling in the back of your throat that may cause you to cough
- Feeling that there’s a lump in your throat (and not for emotional for reasons)
- Frog in your throat, figuratively (extremely unlikely, but if literal symptom, call 911)
To best identity the appropriate treatment, it’s important to identify the cause of your postnasal drip, especially in cases of prolonged or chronic post-nasal drip. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor and discuss your concerns and potential treatments.
Once the cause of postnasal drip has been identified, a variety of treatment options are available to you.
Home Remedies and OTC Medications:
- A humidifier or steam inhalation (as during a hot shower)
- Keeping well-hydrated (to keep the mucus thinner)
- Sleep on propped up pillows, to keep the mucus from collecting at the back of your throat
- Nasal irrigation (i.e. a net pot or other over-the-counter product)
- Oral decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (as in Sudafed) or other similar types
- Guaifenesin (as in Mucinex), a medication that can thin the mucus
If these methods fail, sometimes prescription medications may be prescribed. If postnasal drip is caused by allergies or sinus inflammation, nasal steroid sprays and antihistamines can be prescribed to treat your symptoms. You can also take steps to avoid allergen triggers or known irritants.
If anatomical obstructions such as a deviated septum and enlarged turbinates are identified as a cause of your postnasal drip, simple and successful outpatient procedures can be performed in your nose and/or sinuses to relieve the obstruction. In this case, a specialized ENT practice can help you get to the bottom of your chronic post-nasal drip woes and help you find the best solution for lasting releif.
A Special Note on Chronic Rhinitis (For Allergy Sufferers)
Allergies, or chronic rhinitis, results in a persistently runny nose, often postnasal drip, congestion, coughing, itching, and sneezing. It is also, as mentioned, one of the most common causes of chronic postnasal drip—symptoms from chronic rhinitis may occur all year long and can lead to a cascade of other symptoms.
Previously treatment often meant managing symptoms with medications and sprays—until now. Ohio Sinus Institute can now offer you an ablative procedure to disrupt these signals and provide lasting relief without surgery.
Two techniques are available. First, cryotherapy is used to freeze the nerve responsible and the second technique is the RhinAer™ procedure. The RhinAer™ uses low level heat energy to quiet the nerve. These procedures clinically demonstrated an improvement in symptoms in 96% of patients.
In-Office Ablative Procedures (At-A-Glance)
- Simple in-office treatment is completed using only local anesthetic
- Minimal discomfort, no incisions
- It is clinically proven to provide lasting relief of symptoms including runny nose, post-nasal drip and chronic cough
- Clinical studies show that patients treated with the RhinAer™ procedure reported significant improvements in their symptoms and quality of life
When should I call a doctor?
In most cases, postnasal drip is annoying but not dangerous. If nothing seems to work and dealing with postnasal drip feels like a never-ending battle, it’s probably a good idea to see a doctor. However, you should definitely contact your doctor if you have:
- Unexplained fever
- Bloody mucus
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Foul smelling drainage
- Persistent symptoms despite treatment
Suffering from chronic postnasal drip that just won’t seem to go away? We can help!
Contact Ohio Sinus Institute today to schedule your appointment.
We’ll examine your nose and sinuses to help identify the cause of your postnasal drip and provide you with a treatment plan to get rid of it once and for all! With the latest technologies and advanced treatment options, we can help you find the right solution to bring you the relief you deserve. Call us today!