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Post nasal drip refers to that sensation of having excess secretions (either thick or thin) drip down the back of your throat. There are glands lining your mucous membranes that produces a large amount secretions per day to help humidify the air you breathe and to trap foreign substances from entering the respiratory system. Normally, healthy humans produce up to 2 quarts of mucus per day, some of this mucus get swallowed unconsciously.
When the mucus membranes become inflamed, usually due bacteria and viruses, they become swollen extending into the sinuses, causing congestion and poor drainage. When drainage is impaired, mucus may accumulate in one spot and thicken. As mucus forces its way out of the sinuses and nasal passages, it drips down the back of the throat.
Usually sinusitis, colds, allergies and other upper respiratory disorders are followed by post nasal drip. When you have sinusitis, your sinuses become swollen and the free flow of mucus and air via the ostium becomes blocked. Mucus collects in the sinuses causing further irritation, while the mucus production in the mucous membrane continues.
But there are some other glands in your throat that also produces secretions that help with swallowing and giving resonance to your voice. Also, when swallowing is impaired due to other disorders such as dysphagia, secretions accumulate in the throat.
|Causes of Post Nasal Drip
Post nasal drip occurs when your mucous membrane and nose glands produce excess mucus due to irritation. There are several substances that can irritate your mucous membrane icluding:
- Dairy products
- Inhalants e.g. Dust mites, animal dander, pollen, and mold
- Deviated nasal septum
- Cold air
- Spicy foods
- Cigarette smoke
All of the above factors are role players in our body's over-production of mucus and may cause post nasal drip. All of them need to be avoided, but with allergies you will have to see your doctor to determine which foods and substances you're allergic to.
|Abnormal nasal and throat secretions (thin or thick)
When mucus drips down from the nasopharynx and locate at the back of your throat, you feel the lump of secretions that causes the need to clear you throat constantly. Sometimes the secretions are thin and clear, but othertimes it can be thick and discolored. The main causes of mucus overproduction include:
|Other factors that may trigger Post Nasal Drip
Besides factors mentioned above, there are several other factors that may trigger the over production of nasal or throat secretions:
- Cold temperatures
- Sinus or nasal infections
- Pregnancy and changes in hormones
- Low humidity
- Side effects of other medication
- Nasal tumors
- Gastroesophageal reflux
|Symptoms of Post Nasal Drip
If you feel like you have post nasal drip, see your otolaryngologist and help him define your symptoms and the cause of your condition. If your symptoms match about five of the following symptoms, you may have post nasal drip:
- Need to continuously clear your throat
- Bad breath
- Clear nasal discharge
- Continual sore throats
- Sinus or nasal congestion
- Yellow or white crystals on your tonsils and adenoids
- Yellow coating on your tongue
- Hoarseness or raspy voice
It's crucial to see your otolaryngologist before you take any medication prior to your symptoms. Treatment for post nasal drip depends heavily on the cause of the infection and not the symptoms. Your doctor will do several tests to determine what causes your post nasal drip and prescribe a treatment method for you. Click here to view treatment options for post nasal drip.