What is Post-Nasal Drip?
As we breathe, the glands behind the nose lining, the airways, throat, the intestinal tract and the stomach produces mucus. This thick and wet mucus lining keeps the nose, the airways and the throat moistened, so that the bacteria and virus or the other foreign bodies or particles do not enter the body through the nasal cavity.
Usually, the mucus stays unnoticeable and it gets mixed with the saliva of the mouth and we swallow it. However, when the body produces too much of mucus and it becomes thicker than usual, we can notice it. At this condition, we get a runny nose and the mucus runs down the throat through the back of the nose. This is called the Post-Nasal drip.
What Causes Post-Nasal Drip?
There are various causes behind your excessive mucus production and Post-Nasal drip. The common causes are –
- Sinus infection
- Spicy foods
- Changing weather
- Certain medicines
- Hormonal changes
- Deviated septum
- Irritants like smoke, fumes, perfume etc.
How Long Does Post-Nasal Drip Last?
Postnasal drip is a very irritating condition and whenever one suffers from this condition, one waits to get rid of it. However, it usually doesn't go away very fast. In most of the cases, Post-Nasal drip lasts for quite some time. Unfortunately, exactly how long it will last, cannot be specified beforehand. Though it varies in each case, it can well be said that the cause of the condition has much to do with its impact and longevity. The sooner the underlying cause is treated, the sooner Post-Nasal drip will disappear.
Usually, if the Post-Nasal drip is a result of flu, cold or a sinus infection, it will last roughly for about a week. In contrary, of course, if the condition is too serious and if treatment is delayed, it will last longer. However, in case the cause of the Post-Nasal drip is a hormonal change or the consumption of certain medicines or even pregnancy, then it will last for as long as the affecting factors persist.
In case of deviated septum or some similar internal or structural problem, it can't be determined how long the condition of Post-Nasal drip will last; it is likely to last for as long as the defect is not treated.
What are the Problems Associated with Post-Nasal Drip?
The problem with Post-Nasal drip isn't the excessive production of it, but the fact that it doesn't get cleared away from the throat. As the liquid builds up in the throat, it creates a swallowing problem. Post-Nasal drip is not a disease itself, but a symptom of another underlying condition. It is used to describe a lumpy or thickening sensation at the back of the throat.
Congestion of the throat is a very irritating problem that is associated with Post-Nasal drip. Due to the excessive production of mucus, there is always a need to swallow. However, as the nose, throat, mouth and food passage do not interact properly due to the over-secretion of the mucus, it affects the muscles and nerves of these areas, and thus swallowing is affected. Moreover, there is always a dripping feeling at the back of the throat and the extremely runny, thin and over-secreted mucus almost hangs around the throat. As the mucus secretion slows down, the hanging mucus forms cough at the back of your throat which makes swallowing very difficult. This is sometimes quite painful.
Signs and Symptoms of Post-Nasal Drip
People, who encounter Post-Nasal Drip, often undergo a number of signs and symptoms. These include –
- A congested throat that needs to be cleared; hence, frequent and voluntary throat clearing is common.
- Frequent coughing is one of the symptoms of post-nasal drip.
- Sore throat.
- A lot of mucus in the throat.
- A cracked or hoarse voice.
- A runny or blocked nose is also a symptom of post-nasal drip.
One thing that must be mentioned here is that the Post-Nasal drip can be of two types – the thin secretion of mucus and the thick secretion of mucus. The increased secretion of the thin mucus is usually caused by the cold, flu, temperature changes and even factors like pregnancy, hormonal changes as well as by eating certain spices. The thick secretion of the mucus, on the other hand, is mostly caused by some allergy or infection. Often the thin mucus is seen to be transformed into thick, yellow or green mucus. This implies that the cause of this secretion is a bacterial sinus.
Ways to Get Rid of Post-Nasal Drip
If you want to get rid of the Post-Nasal drip, it is a must that you diagnose the cause behind this condition. Different treatment options will follow different causes.
- Medicines to Get Rid of Post-Nasal Drip: In case the cause of post-nasal drip is an infection, sinusitis, flu or some other bacterial or viral attack, antibiotics are to be taken. Apart from the antibiotics, the doctor may also recommend steroid nasal sprays, Cromolyn and other types of sprays, antihistamines and other types of decongestants. However, these may have significant amount of side effects and hence, must be taken as per prescription and under the guidance of a doctor.
- Surgery for Getting Rid of Post-Nasal Drip: Those, who are suffering from Post-Nasal drip due to a deviated septum or a blocked sinus, may need to undergo a surgery to get rod of the problem. However, for that it is a must that a proper X-ray and other diagnostic tests are done beforehand. This will help the doctor to identify the exact cause and the extent of surgical intervention needed.
- Home Remedies for Post-Nasal drip: There are a number of home remedies that are quite helpful in getting rid of this problem of post-nasal drip. What is most important about these home remedies is that these are absolutely safe to use and do not interfere with your regular treatment methods. Hence, if you want to make sure that the irritation lessens and the condition subsides soon, these home remedies must be practiced.
- Inhale Vapour: The first and the most comfortable home remedy to get rid of the Post-Nasal drip caused by the usual flu, allergens, cold or infection is to inhale steam or vapour. For that you need to add a few drops of essential oils to a bowl of boiling water. By draping your face and head with a towel and completely covering your head over the bowl of water, you need to inhale the steam for as long as you can or at least for 10 minutes. After that you need to blow your nose.
- Gargling with Salt Water: This is a very comfortable home remedy that will not only help with your Post-Nasal drip, but also reduce the congestion in the back of the throat. For that you need to add ½ teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and gargle with the water. This should be done for about 2 to 3 days at a stretch, gargling quite a few times in a day.
- Nasal Irrigation: If you are looking for a faster and more useful home remedy, you need to add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and a pinch of salt to a cup of warm water. As these dissolve thoroughly, you need to pour the water in one of your nostrils through a neti pot. By tilting and rotating your head from side to back and then the other side and forward, you need to make sure that the water solution reaches the nasal cavities. Now by blowing the nose, the excess mucus can be got rid of.
- Other Kitchen Remedies: Apart from these, there are other common home remedies that many people follow. Amongst them the use of garlic is worth mentioning. By roasting a few cloves of garlic in clarified butter for 1 minute and eat them with warm milk, you can reduce the over-secretion of mucus. Mixing ½ a teaspoon of cayenne pepper with a little honey and having it for a few times a day can also control the mucus secretion. On the other hand, in treating hoarse voice, chest and throat congestion and in treating a sore throat, ginger can be really helpful. It can be chewed raw or added to tea or one can have it with a little honey.
If your Post-Nasal drip is seriously irritating you for more than a week, despite trying these home remedies or taking antibiotics, it is a must that you see a doctor for a thorough check up. There might be chances of more serious underlying conditions that should be treated at once.