Your nose is almost constantly producing mucus. In fact, it makes approximately a quart of it each day. Mucus performs necessary functions including trapping bacteria and moistening the airways, but overproduction can lead to some annoying side effects. Do you notice yourself coughing certain times of the day, or getting a scratchy throat? It could be post-nasal drip.
Most of the time, the excess liquid combines with saliva and drips down the back of your throat, and you don’t even notice. But when production of mucus increases, it can begin thicken and build up in the back of the throat.
Post-Nasal Drip Symptoms
The throat is most affected by post-nasal drip. The additional liquid in the throat may cause food and drinks to “stick” in the throat. Mucus can spill into the larynx and breathing passages and result in hoarseness, coughing, sneezing and frequent throat clearing.
Causes of Post-Nasal Drip
Post-nasal drip can be caused excess mucus production or the inability to clear it away. Since it is such a broad issue, there are several factors that can affect post-nasal drip, but the type of mucus that is being produced is a good indicator of what is causing the issue.
Thin and clear secretions do not typically cause much throat clearing, but can lead to coughing and hoarseness. Common causes of excess thin mucus production include:
- The flu / common cold
- Cold temperatures
- Hormonal changes
- Birth control
- High blood pressure medication
Thicker secretions tend to be most prevalent in the winter because of the dryness in the air and heating systems in homes and offices. This type of issue tends to result in frequent throat clearing and issues swallowing. Possible causes of thick mucus include:
- Sinus infections
- Nose allergies
- Allergies to foods
If your mucus is green or yellow, that is often an indication that there is a problem that may require treatment from a physician. Dark yellow mucus can indicate a sinus infection or dehydration. Green mucus can also indicate your immune system fighting off an infection.
How do I Treat Post-Nasal Drip?
Since post-nasal drip is a broad issue with many causes, there are several types of treatment. Bacterial infections can be cleared up through the use of antibiotics, but the flu or a simple cold won’t respond to this type of treatment since they are caused by virus. In cases of a cold, flu, allergy or sinusitus, antihistamines and decongestants usually help alleviate symptoms. You can also do sinus rinses with saline solution or salt water, such as a Neti pot to clear away your sinuses from excess mucus.