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Why does sinus drainage make you cough?

People with chronic non-productive cough, especially those with a history of common cold or nasal congestion most commonly face this annoying health issue due to sinusitis and persistent sinus drainage. The very presence of inflammatory content in the throat irritates the cells of the superficial layer and induces cough. The similar effects are noticed when the drainage content from sinus cavities reaches lower portions of the respiratory tract.

Sinuses and Their Function

Sinuses represent cavities in the skull bones, coated with mucus membrane. They have many functions like mucus secretion, assistance in voice resonance, making the skull lighter etc. All the mucus produced inside sinuses is normally eliminated to the nasal cavity, from where it is transferred to the throat and usually swallowed.

However, in case sinuses get inflamed and they start draining, the content starts to irritate the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity and throat. Even though some of the content can be eliminated by blowing nose, most of it reaches the throat and induces cough reflex. Persistent draining from sinuses is a major contributor to chronic non-productive cough. So by treating chronic sinus infection and dealing with excess drainage one may eventually overcome chronic cough.

The Actual Mechanism of Irritation

Under normal circumstances, when we are healthy, sinuses secrete mucus. This mucus acts protectively, is carried to the pharynx and finally ends up in the stomach after being swallowed. The entire physiological process remains unnoticed.

Still, in cases there is any infection of the upper respiratory tract, one of many presentation of the health issue is increased sinus drainage. Initially, there is no bacteria in the mucus it is only abundant, but eventually the content of the sinuses becomes purulent and pus starts to drain.

Once eliminated into the nasal cavity and transferred into the throat, pus starts to irritate their mucous membrane and initiate cough reflex. This prolonged post nasal drip highly irritates the pharynx, larynx, trachea and lungs.

How to Deal with Sinus Drainage and Associated Chronic Cough?

It is not strange that many individuals try to ignore the problem even though cough may persist and become quite annoying. Fortunately, many do seek medical help. Any cough that lasts for a long period of time requires proper evaluation. It may be connected with mild medical issues or represents only one sign of more complex and even life-threatening diseases.

If chronic cough is finally confirmed to be associated with sinus drainage, one can be successfully treated with antibiotics and nasal decongestants. After eradicating bacteria responsible for chronic sinus infection and subsequent nasal drip, chronic cough will also be brought under control.

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