Post-nasal Drip

What is Post-nasal Drip?

Post-nasal drip is a very common irritation caused by excessive mucus produced through the sinuses.  When there is an overproduction of mucous, it can cause Post-nasal drip and lead to a sore throat.

While Post-nasal drip is not really considered a medical condition, it may possibly be part of symptoms of other medical conditions that can cause excessive mucus production.

What are the Symptoms of Post-nasal Drip?

People who experience post-nasal drip may describe feelings of excessive mucus dripping or feeling stuck at the back of the throat. This can lead to increased throat clearing which can cause a throat to become very sore and harsh, painful coughing.

Other symptoms may be present that could be linked to something else that might be causing the problem.  Some people who are experiencing the symptoms of a common cold may feel post-nasal drip as part of their symptoms.  When post-nasal drip symptoms are connected to allergies, many people experience watery and itchy eyes, and sometimes headaches.  People with Asthma that might experience Post-nasal drip may have even more difficulty breathing.

Post-Nasal Drip Causes

Post-nasal drip is a common complaint that has a variety of different causes. Some of the causes are a result of other diseases at work in the body.

The common cold, sinusitis and other upper respiratory infections are among the primary causes of post-nasal drip. When the sinuses and the nasal passages are full of mucus and secretions, drainage will occur down the back of the throat instead of just out through the nose. Some of this drainage can be very thick.

Allergies are a main, if not the main, cause of post-nasal drip. The situation occurs with allergies as with infections. There is so much mucus being produced that it starts doing down the back of the throat.

Gastric esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is another cause of post-nasal drip that many people do not consider. When acid from the stomach and esophagus is pushed up into the throat, the throat becomes irritated and produces excess mucus that begins to drain. Sometimes, even the sinuses can become irritated by GERD.

Very dry air as occurs in some homes during the winter months has been known to cause post-nasal drip. When it is too dry, the nasal passages and sinuses produce secretions to compensate. Sometimes, they overcompensate, and post-nasal drip ensues.

How is Post-nasal Drip Treated?

Treatment of Post-nasal drip will be a result of whatever the main problem could be.  If your healthcare provider diagnoses an infection is the cause of post-nasal drip, the infection will most likely be caused by a virus and antibiotics will not be required.  Decongestant medications can alleviate a stuffy nose, while pain relievers can take the edge off of any pain symptoms.

Post-Nasal Drip Prevention

The prevention of post-nasal drip is tied to preventing the underlying cause. If an infection is the suspected cause, treating the infection should clear up the post-nasal drip.

Since allergies are the main cause, getting nasal allergies under control is of primary importance. There are many antihistamine pills, corticosteroid sprays and shots available to help control allergies.

If post-nasal drip is caused by GERD, eating food that is less spicy and sleeping with the head raised may help prevent post-nasal drip. There are also medications available to control GERD.

If the air in the home is very dry, try using a humidifier during the winter months. There are moisturizing nasal sprays available as well.

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Last Reviewed:
October 08, 2016
Last Updated:
January 09, 2018