Five Causes of Post-Nasal Drip

Post-nasal drip is a common condition that happens when mucus from the back of your nose thickens and drips down into your throat. When this occurs, it can make you cough and try to clear your throat. This can sometimes be accompanied by bad breath and sinus pressure. The symptoms often worsen when you’re lying down.

If you’re experiencing post-nasal drip symptoms, you’ll need to identify the cause in order to determine the best course of treatment. Here are some things to consider:

  • Allergies. People who have allergies often produce more mucus. To prevent the problem, allergy-proof your home and minimize your exposure to triggers. You may also need an antihistamine to head off the reaction, or a decongestant to control existing symptoms. A nasal spray containing steroids to prevent swelling in your nasal cavities can also be beneficial. Just check with a doctor first to find out what medications will be best for your situation and that are safe to take together.
  • Cold or flu. Illnesses can produce thicker mucus in larger quantities. Counteract this problem by trying to thin your secretions. Drinking lots of water, avoiding caffeine (which can make the problem worse) and taking a cold or cough medication can help accomplish this goal. You can also try a saline nasal spray or use nasal irrigation (neti pot) to clear your nasal passages.
  • Medications. If you take birth control pills or blood pressure control medications, these may affect your mucus production. Post-nasal drip can be a side effect. Talk to your doctor about trying a different form of the medication to see if this helps relieve the problem.
  • Food allergies. If you have a food allergy, your body could respond to any exposure by increasing mucus production. In such a case, you’ll want to avoid the offending food and take an antihistamine if you do come into contact with it.
  • An infection. When you have a sinus infection, your mucus will thicken and take on a brighter green or yellow tint. (In most other causes, the mucus should be clear or white.) When an infection occurs, if it’s bacterial in nature, you’ll need antibiotics. Your doctor may also recommend taking a decongestant or cough medicine. Once the infection clears up, so should the post-nasal drip.

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