A runny dripping nose might cause you discomfort and embarrassment in public. Do you know that the glands lining the throat, nose, air passages, intestinal tract and stomach end up producing about one to two quarts of mucus every day? Mucus helps to humidify the air that travels into the body, making you feel comfortable. It is a thick wet substance, which keeps these areas moist and supports them to trap and destroy bacteria, virus or any other foreign invaders before they cause any infection in the body. Under normal conditions, the mucus in the nose is not visible as it combines with saliva and drips down the back of the throat and ingested gradually.
What Is Postnasal Drip?
When the body produces more mucus than usual or has a thicker consistency, it becomes visible. This excess mucus comes out of the nose, giving rise to a runny nose. However, when the mucus runs down the back of the nose into the throat, it is called as postnasal drip. Sometimes we wake up in the morning with a sore throat or a hacking cough and end up clearing the throat to clear something settled at the back of the throat. Experiencing any of these is an indication of postnasal drip.
Causes Of Postnasal Drip:
Post nasal drip is not actually a medical condition. However, it may be a symptom of some other medical condition, which is responsible for causing excessive mucus production. Nasal glands may produce excess mucus to clean the nose, to fight infection and trap the dust particles, etc. Postnasal drip can be triggered due to several reasons such as:
- Viral infections as cold and flu
- Rhinitis, which is a chronic condition with a runny nose
- Allergies due to pollens, dust mites or animals
- Sinus infection, inflammation of sinus or sinusitis
- Bacterial infections
- Certain medications, such as antihistamines, diuretics, contraceptive pills, tranquillizers and medicines for treatment of blood pressure
- During Pregnancy
- Foreign object lodged in the nose
- Extreme dry weather conditions
- Cold temperatures with cold winds
- Extreme changes in weather patterns
- Certain foods, such as spicy food or some other foods can trigger the flow of mucus
- Fumes produced by smoke, perfumes, chemicals, irritants and cleaning products
- Physical problems with the nose, such as nasal polyp which is a fleshy swollen area inside the nose and deviated septum which is a problem with the partition between nostrils.
- Reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease
Symptoms Of Postnasal Drip:
Individuals with a post nasal drip may feel a constant need to clear the throat. They suffer from various symptoms which vary depending on the cause.
- There is a feeling of mucus dripping down the throat.
- Postnasal drip may lead to sore throat, frequent clearing of throat and coughing.
- When postnasal drip is caused due to allergies, it may lead to itchiness or nose and eyes, teary eyes and headache.
- In case of people suffering from asthma, postnasal drip makes breathing more difficult.
- Several other symptoms of postnasal drip are:
- Stuffy nose
- Bad breath
- Coughing or hoarse voice.
Cough triggered by postnasal drip is often found to worsen during the night. This might block the ear causing ear infection or block the sinus passages causing sinus infection.
Treatment For Postnasal Drip:
It has been observed that postnasal drip clears out by itself. However, treatment for postnasal drip depends upon the cause.
- When postnasal drip is caused due to viral infection or sinusitis, it can be treated with decongestants and antihistamines.
- When associated with allergies, nasal sprays or steroid medications may be used for the treatment.
Some home remedies can also ease the symptoms of postnasal drip and might also be able to prevent it. These home remedies are:
1. Salt Water Gargle:
Gargling with salt water helps to soothe and clear the throat. This can be done by adding half teaspoon salt to a cup of lukewarm water and gargling right away.
2. Stay Hydrated:
Drinking enough water and staying hydrated everyday keeps the mucus thin. It also keeps the nasal passages well hydrated.
Use decongestants to drain the sinuses and clearing the mucus.
4. Baking Soda Solution:
Combine a pinch of baking soda with a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of salt. Use this mixture to squirt into the nostrils with a nasal syringe.
Apart from the above home remedies, you should also keep a check on the atmosphere you are living in. Improve your environment by keeping humidity high. Also, stay away from allergens, smoke and smog.
What did you do to treat postnasal drip? Share your experience with us.