Mucus has the important job of trapping germs in order to keep us healthy. We don’t really notice it when it’s at a normal volume and consistency. But when mucus becomes thicker or thinner than usual, it causes a post-nasal drip down the back of the throat that leads to irritation. Find out the reasons for this type of sinus drainage and how to stop it.
Common Causes of Post-Nasal Drip
Here are four likely reasons for drainage and how to improve your comfort:
Viruses or Infections
When you have a common cold or the flu, you’re likely to produce excess mucus that will run down your throat. To thin the mucus, drink plenty of fluids, take decongestants, gargle with salt water and inhale steam. If sinus drainage lasts more than 10 days and becomes thick and cloudy, you should see a doctor since it could be a sinus infection which requires antibiotics.
Post-nasal drip is very common for allergy sufferers. Depending on what you’re allergic to, you can try an antihistamine to help your immune system better tolerate the allergy. You may also be able to avoid situations that expose you to the allergy. This includes staying indoors with closed windows during pollen season and buying a HEPA filter if you’re allergic to the pet dander in your home. But if you don’t know what allergy could be causing excess sinus drainage, you should see an allergist. They may prescribe allergy testing and devise a treatment plan that could include immunotherapy.
Acid Reflux (GERD)
In some cases, post-nasal drip is not from excess mucus. If you have Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, stomach acid can come up into the esophagus and throat and cause a sore throat, hoarse voice, and persistent cough in addition to post-nasal drip. Try sleeping with your upper body elevated to keep the acid from coming up from your stomach, don’t eat right before bedtime. You may want to take Tums or another over the counter antacid, but if your symptoms persist, a doctor can prescribe something to help you stay comfortable.
Some medications increase mucus production, so your sinus drainage may be more noticeable after beginning a new prescription. Try using saline spray and a humidifier to make breathing easier, and avoid dairy since it can thicken mucus. It’s important to avoid taking other medications such as antihistamines or decongestants without discussing them first with your doctor.
Deviated Septum or Another Structural Abnormality
If bones or cartilage in your nose are causing sinuses to drain faster than normal, you will notice post-nasal drip. An otolaryngologist (ENT) can discuss ways to manage your sinus drainage as well as perform an exam to determine if corrective surgery can help.
Sound Health ENT Physicians Can Help You Mange Sinus Drainage Problems
Constant post-nasal drip can be annoying and uncomfortable. If you can’t control your sinus drainage with home remedies, call our office to make an appointment with one of our doctors at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL.