Updated: Jul 12, 2022
Every day, your nose produces about a quart of mucus. Mucus is a thick, moist substance in the nose, throat, airways and stomach which helps to trap and destroy foreign bacteria and viruses to help prevent infection. Normally, we don’t notice the mucus from our nose because it mixes with saliva, drips harmlessly down the back of the throat, and then we simply swallow it.
However, if your body produces more mucus than usual or if it’s thicker than normal, it becomes more noticeable. Often times the excess mucus drips out of the nostrils, which also known as a common runny nose. Less often, the mucus can flow down the back of your nose to your throat, which is called postnasal drip.
The causes of postnasal drip include:
• Colds and flu • Allergies • Sinus infection or sinusitis • An object stuck in the nose • Pregnancy • Certain medications, including some for birth control and blood pressure • Deviated septum- a crooked placement of the wall that separates the two nostrils • Changing weather, cold temperatures, or especially dry air • Certain foods, such as particularly spicy food • The inhaling of perfumes, certain chemicals, cleaning products, smoke, or other irritants
Sometimes the problem isn’t that you are producing too much mucus, but that the mucus is not being cleared away. Swallowing problems can cause a buildup of liquids in the throat, which can feel like postnasal drip. These problems can sometimes occur with age, a blockage, or conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD.
If you are feeling the symptoms of postnasal drip it is important to drink plenty of fluids to remain hydrated, blow your nose frequently to remove excess mucus in the nasal cavity and rinse the nasal cavity to remove mucus-causing irritants. Postnasal drip can often lead to a sore throat which can cause discomfort and irritation. With the right treatment after a detailed ear, nose and throat exam, the symptoms can be cleared up relatively quickly.
If you are suffering from postnasal drip, make an appointment with one of our ENT Specialists today.