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What is Catarrh & How is it Treated? | Causes & Symptoms of Catarrh

What is Catarrh?

Catarrh is the name given to a condition characterized by accumulation of mucous behind the throat, nose, and the sinuses. Catarrh is generally seen after an episode of allergy or common cold. Catarrh resolves once the condition causing it is treated. However, there are some cases where Catarrh has persisted for months and even years. Catarrh does not pose any health threat but it can affect the daily life of a person.[1,2,3]

Mucous is a fluid like substance that is naturally produced in the body by mucous glands present in the throat and nose. The function of the mucous is to keep the nasal passage moist and trap any debris, dust or any environmental allergen that may have slipped in through the nose. Thus it plays an important role in the body fighting off infections.[1,2,3]

The body makes about 2 quarts of mucous every day. This mucous then slips down the back of the throat. Generally, a person swallows mucous without even knowing or thinking about it. However, sometimes, there is excess mucous produced which then starts to accumulate in the nose, throat, and sinuses. This is what results in Catarrh.[1,2,3]

What is Catarrh & How is it Treated?

What Causes Catarrh?

There are many causes for Catarrh. These include weather changes. A sudden change in weather can cause a person to have cough or cold which is then followed by the symptoms seen with Catarrh. Sometimes, eating spicy foods also may cause mucous buildup resulting in Catarrh. Medical conditions like allergic rhinitis and hay fever are also one of the causes of Catarrh.[3]

People with sinus infections also have tend to have symptoms of Catarrh. GI disorders like GERD also at times can cause Catarrh. Some females complain of symptoms of Catarrh due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. In cases of children, something stuck in the nose can result in the symptoms as seen with Catarrh.[3]

What are the Symptoms of Catarrh?

Some of the symptoms of Catarrh include:[3]

  • Sensation of mucous trickling down the back of the throat[3]
  • Gurgling sound when talking[3]
  • Feeling of a lump in the throat[3]
  • Frequently clearing the throat[3]
  • Cough[3]
  • Problems with swallowing[3]
  • Stuffy nose[3]
  • Headaches[3]
  • Pain around the face[3]
  • Loss of sense of smell and taste[3]
  • Problems getting restful sleep[3]

How is Catarrh Treated?

Catarrh is more a symptom and always has an underlying cause. It is completely benign and generally goes away when the cause of it is treated. However, if Catarrh is persistent and does not go away for months then treatment may be required. Some of the treatment options for Catarrh include:[3]

Over-the-counter Measures: These include nasal irrigation and use of decongestants. Most common decongestant is Sudafed. Medications that thin out the mucous are also quite effective in treating Catarrh. The most preferred medication for this is Mucinex. If the cause of Catarrh is believed to be allergies then antihistamines are quite effective. For pain and discomfort seen with Catarrh using pain medications like ibuprofen or Tylenol are quite beneficial.[3]

Home Treatments: There are also certain home treatments that can be done for Catarrh. These include staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and fluids. Using a humidifier is also quite beneficial. Steam inhalation is by far the best remedy for treating the symptoms of Catarrh as is salt water gargling.[3]

Additionally, sleeping on propped up pillows is also quite helpful in preventing Catarrh. It should be noted that people with Catarrh should avoid consuming foods that may irritate the mucous membranes like hot and spicy foods, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol.[3]

Prescription Medications: In cases where the symptoms of Catarrh are persistent, then the individual may be given stronger medications in the form of Atrovent or Nasacort. These medications thin out the mucous and reduce the symptoms of Catarrh.[3]

In conclusion, Catarrh is a benign medical condition that generally follows after a medical illness like common cough or cold. This condition is caused when there is accumulation of mucous behind the throat, nose, and sinuses. In majority of the cases, the symptoms of Catarrh go away once the underlying medical illness is treated.[1,2,3]

However in some instances the symptoms may be persistent and will require further treatment. The options available for treating Catarrh includes over the counter nasal decongestants and certain home remedies that have been explained above. Catarrh is a benign condition and does not pose any health threats. However, people tend to have a decreased quality of life due to the annoying symptoms of Catarrh.[1,2,3]


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 11, 2022

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