What is postnasal drip?
Postnasal drip is just what it sounds like. It is mucus dripping down from the back of the nose into the throat. This dripping causes symptoms such as coughing, needing to clear the throat, sore throat, wheezing, or difficulty sleeping. Postnasal drip can be caused by several things, including allergies, viral infections (like the cold or flu), other respiratory or sinus infections, medications, dry or cold air, or even spicy foods.
Also see our blog on Allergy Symptoms
How is postnasal drip treated?
Postnasal drip is treated based on what is causing the symptoms. If the postnasal drip is allergy related, an antihistamine or nasal steroid (like Flonase, Nasacort, or Rhinocort) would likely be the best treatment(s). Other options for treatment include decongestants (such as Sudafed). Another good option, especially if the symptoms are caused by an infection, is Mucinex (guaifenesin). Mucinex is a medication that works to thin out and loosen the mucus and help your body clear it. In addition to the Mucinex, drinking plenty of fluids also will help thin out the mucus to help clear it. Mucinex is also available in combination with a decongestant (known as Mucinex-D). However, use with caution if you have high blood pressure, as the decongestant pseudoephedrine found in Mucinex-D and Sudafed can increase the blood pressure.
If you’re having difficulty sleeping at night from the symptoms of postnasal drip, it can help to elevate your head. Other non-drug recommendations for postnasal drip include using a humidifier, saline nasal spray, or gargling salt water. Clearing the sinuses of the mucus with an irrigation system, like the Neti Pot, also may help symptoms.
If your symptoms last more than ten days, it is important to see a doctor to make sure something more serious is not looming. If you have fevers, it may indicate an infection and may require antibiotics. Sometimes other conditions, like acid reflux, may mimic symptoms of postnasal drip. See your primary care provider if you’re not sure.
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