What is Post-Nasal Drip?
Post-nasal drip occurs when your sinuses produce excess mucus that runs down the back of your throat.
Under normal circumstances, glands in your nose and throat constantly produce mucus in order to moisten the nasal membranes and fight off infection. When too much mucus builds up, post-nasal drip occurs.
Causes of Post-Nasal Drip
Post-nasal drip may be caused by a number of conditions or health issues, including:
- bacterial infections
- viral infections that cause the common cold
- seasonal flu
- head injury
- use of nasal sprays
- gastroesophageal reflux
If the mucus secretions associated with post-nasal drip are thin and clear, the condition is most likely caused by colds, flu, allergies, cold temperatures, exposure to bright lights, certain foods or spices, pregnancy, hormonal changes, use of certain medications (such as birth control pills and blood pressure drugs), or structural abnormalities (such as a deviated or irregular nasal septum).
If the secretions are thick, it's more likely that post-nasal drip is caused by dryness in indoor air, sinus infections, hay fever, or food allergies (especially to dairy products).
Post-Nasal Drip Symptoms
Along with the sensation of liquid dripping from the back of your nose and into your throat, post-nasal drip may produce the following symptoms:
- a cough that tends to worsen at night
- sore throat
- ear pain
- sinus pain in the face
- swelling of tonsils or other tissues in the throat
Treatment for Post-Nasal Drip
In order to properly treat post-nasal drip, it's important to have your ears, nose, and throat examined so that your doctor may determine the underlying cause. If your post-nasal drip is caused by a bacterial infection, for instance, you may require antibiotics.
Post-Nasal Drip Remedies
For temporarily relief of post-nasal drip, consider these natural remedies:
1) Nasal Irrigation
Research suggests that nasal irrigation (a procedure that involves using a salt-water rinse to clear the nasal passages) may help reduce post-nasal drip in people with chronic sinusitis.
Although ginger hasn't been studied for its effects on post-nasal drip, the herb is thought to help relieve congestion, which may be beneficial for people with post-nasal drip. Since it's important for individuals with post-nasal drip to drink plenty of fluids, try sipping ginger tea.
Forer M, Ananda S. "The management of postnasal drip." Aust Fam Physician. 1999 28(3):223-8.
Papsin B, McTavish A. "Saline nasal irrigation: Its role as an adjunct treatment." Can Fam Physician. 2003 49:168-73.