Post nasal drip is not a medical condition it is a symptom of many illnesses of the upper respiratory tract or oral cavity and features with mucus or other secretions dripping through the throat. It commonly affects people suffering from rhinitis sinusitis, allergies etc.
Mucus is normally secreted by the glands lining the nose and sinuses. It normally pushes down the throat by the hair-like celia located on the surface of the lining. Its function is to provide with proper lubrication, fight against infections and to trap foreign substances. However, excessive production of mucus is a reason for unpleasant and irritating post nasal drip. In post nasal drip the celia are not capable of controlling the flow of the mucus and it accumulates on its way down the throat. Over production of mucus also leads to its accumulation in the sinuses, it may become sticky and prevent proper draining.
Causes of Post Nasal Drip
There is a variety of factors and medical conditions associated with postnasal drip. Post nasal drip commonly accompanies inhalation of many irritants (pollutants and chemicals). It is also a consequence of smoking and exposure to second hand smoke. Even consumption of certain allergic foods and dairy product may result in excessive production of mucus and consequent postnasal drip. Dry air is one more cause of post nasal drip. It is a characteristic of almost every infection of the upper respiratory tract such as common cold, flu, sinusitis, rhinitis etc. Even swallowing disorders lead to unpleasant sensations due to the presence of excessive amount of secretions. And finally, post nasal drip may be also associated with certain medications such as birth control pills.
Symptoms of Post Nasal Drip
The very problem is caused by irritation of the mucous membrane of the throat. One may feel mucus dripping through the back of the throat. Irritation leads to persistent cough, one more symptom of post nasal drip. The person also complains about sore throat and bad breath. If there is too much mucus in the throat it may cause nausea and vomiting, frequent spitting and swallowing. This way the body tries to overcome irritation and remove the excess of mucus.
Treatment for Post Nasal Drip
Treatment for post nasal drip basically depends on the actual cause and this is why patients are due to visit their doctor who will perform physical exam and examine the structures of ear, nose and throat in order to establish proper diagnosis. In some cases patients undergo additional tests and examinations such as lab tests, X-ray studies and endoscopy.
Allergies are treated with antihistamines and decongestants and their occurrence can be successfully prevented by avoiding potential triggers. Furthermore, any kind of bacterial infection is treated with appropriate antibiotic. Chronic inflammation of the sinuses may require surgery. Apart from taking prescribed medications patients are due to drink a lot of fluids to stimulate elimination of the mucus.