Understanding and treating a postnasal drip
Here is help for understanding and treating a postnasal drip! Postnasal drip is a common occurrence, affecting almost everyone at some point in their lives. The air people breathe is full of germs, pollen, and other environmental pollutants. When the air enters the body, these particles can create problems if they are not filtered out.
Every day, glands in the linings of your nose, throat, airways, stomach, and intestinal tract produce mucus. Your nose alone makes about a quart of it each day. Mucus is a thick, wet substance that moistens these areas to:
- fight infection
- moisten nasal membranes
- filter out foreign matter
What is a Postnasal Drip?
Normally, you don’t notice the mucus from your nose because it mixes with saliva, drips harmlessly down the back of your throat, and you swallow it. When your body produces more mucus than usual or it’s thicker than normal, it becomes more noticeable. The excess can come out of the nostrils – that’s a runny nose. It is a postnasal drip when the mucus runs down the back of your nose to your throat.
What causes Postnasal Drip?
A number of conditions can cause postnasal drip. Allergies are one of the most common. If you get tested for allergies, you can better avoid your triggers or premedicate if you know you’ll be exposed.
Another common cause is a deviated septum, which means that the thin wall of cartilage between your nostrils (or septum) is displaced or leans to one side. This makes one nasal passage smaller, and can prevent proper mucus drainage, resulting in postnasal drip.
Other causes of postnasal drip include:
- cold temperatures
- viral infections resulting in the coldor flu
- sinus infections
- changes in the weather
- dry air
- spicy foods
- certain medications, including some blood pressure and birth control prescriptions
In some cases, the problem causing postnasal drip isn’t excessive mucus, but your throat’s inability to clear it. Swallowing problems or gastric reflux can cause liquids to build up in your throat, which feels like postnasal drip.
Common symptoms of postnasal drip include:
In addition to the sensation of mucus dripping down the back of the throat, symptoms of postnasal drip include:
- feeling that you need to constantly clear your throat or swallow
- a cough that’s worse at night
- nausea from excess mucus moving into your stomach
- sore, scratchy throat
- bad breath
You can turn to a number of home treatments to relieve the symptoms of postnasal drip.
- Stay hydrated
- Drink warm liquids
- Gargle with warm salt water
- Use a saline nasal mist
- Use a humidifier
- Sleeping with your head slightly elevated can also promote proper drainage.
- Take over the counter medicine (Visit your nearest The Local Choice Pharmacy for expert advice on which over-the-counter products to use to treat your postnasal drip.
When to see a doctor
Most cases of postnasal drip clear up on their own. However, depending on its cause, complications can arise if postnasal drip is left untreated. It is best to treat postnasal drip early to avoid complications, and people should see a doctor for any symptoms that last for more than 10 days.
There are some symptoms that could indicate it’s time to take a trip to the doctor. These include:
- mucus with a strong odour
These may be symptoms of a bacterial infection, which needs antibiotics.
The best way to prevent postnasal drip is to reduce exposure to allergens as much as possible. Here are a few tips:
- Take a daily allergy medication or get regular allergy shots.
- Keep your home as clean and dust-free as possible.
- Use mattressand pillow covers to protect against dust mites.
- Change air filters on your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system regularly.
- Shower before bed whenever you’ve spent a lot of time outside if you’re allergic to pollen.
Disclaimer: All content on the The Local Choice Pharmacy is created and published online for informational purposes only. It does not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health advice.