What is Post Nasal Drip?
Post nasal drip is a persistent, often chronic condition in which mucous from the nose or sinuses becomes so trapped that it drains into the throat and mouth. The cause is usually inflammation of the sinuses, but can also be due to an infection of the sinus membrane (which lines the cavities of the nose and cheeks), a build up of mucous in the cheek tissues, or the movement of the jaw.
Mucous, which is made up of a protein called keratin, works like glue. When mucous membranes become inflamed, they harden and can adhere to the walls of the sinus passages or the cilia that help keep them clear. This blocks the passage of mucous through the nasal passages. Inhaled mucus becomes thick and sticky. Other causes of thickened mucous are allergies, rhinitis (inflammation of the nose), and various viral and bacterial infections.
Postnasal drip can have many different symptoms, depending on what is causing it. A constant stuffy nose with a yellowish color or greenish-yellow color, along with post nasal congestion and pain when swallowing can be a sign of a sinus infection or a blockage of the nasal passages by swollen mucous. If the excess mucous is getting stuck on the back of the tongue, it can cause a taste problem. The condition can also cause bad breath.
Rhinitis is an inflammation or irritation of the lining of the nose. It is commonly known as a runny nose or sneezing. A common cause of rhinitis is colds or flu. Inhaled mucus becomes thick and sticky and can be coughed up. This can cause a taste problem.
Sinusitis causes a swelling of the lining of the sinus membrane (the mucous membrane that lines the nose and keeps bacteria and other germs from entering the nose). This can cause a painful swelling from the mucous membrane to the tip of the sinus nose. Coughing and difficulty breathing can also occur.
Treatments for sinusitis range from simply keeping the nasal passages open to taking medication. Antibiotics work by killing off the infection, thus decreasing the amount of mucous produced by the sinuses. There are some over the counter drugs that are designed to thin mucous by breaking it into smaller pieces. However, most people tend to take medicines orally in order to take advantage of the drug’s ease of digestion. Other prescription drugs are available as nasal sprays, which shoot clear mucous into the nasal cavities.
Mucous that gets caught on items such as handrails or furniture can also cause a drip. This mucous gets stuck and will not be able to move out of the sinus cavities. Sweaty hands and noses can cause mucus to collect on them and then drip. If it drips from the nose and gets stuck on something, it may be an indication of an infection caused by bacteria found in the sinuses.
There are a variety of things that can cause drainage. Coughing and colds are the main reason that mucous gets tracked down into the nose. When a person sneezes there is a huge amount of mucous discharged from the lungs. Also, sinus infections cause the mucous membrane to swell which allows the mucous to track in and out of the nasal cavities. When this happens, the mucous has nowhere to go but up into the nose.
Other irritants and pollutants that get tracked into the nose and can cause drainage are cigarette smoke, odors from foods, mints, foods that contain garlic and onions, and even coffee. These are just a few of the different ingredients that can cause irritation to the mucous membrane. When mucous membrane gets irritated, it starts to swell. This swelling causes blockage which allows fluid to drain into the nasal passages. The fluid helps keep the sinuses moist. If there is not enough drainage, then the sinuses will get inflamed and cause additional drainage problems.
What is Post Nasal Drip? When mucous gets tracked into the nasal passages, it can get trapped there for a period of time. When this happens, the drainage process becomes compromised and it causes a mucous that is what we commonly refer to as a post-nasal drip.
While there are many things that can cause the mucus to become tracked into the nasal passages, one of the more common ways is due to smoking and certain food types. Smoking tends to dehydrate the mucous membrane, causing it to become thinner and thus easier for fluid to be tracked into the nasal passages. Certain foods can irritate and dehydrate the mucous membrane as well, which makes it easier for mucous to be tracked into the nasal passages and cause a post-nasal drip.
Post nasal drip is a common problem. It can cause serious difficulties in breathing, causing you to snort or cough often. You may even find it difficult to speak when the mucous begins to fall from your lungs. You don’t have to suffer with this type of difficulty, however; there are treatment options available for you to take advantage of.
Post nasal drip symptoms typically appear around the nose. It can also occur because you have sinus problems, sinusitis or a deviated septum, among other things. This type of complication occurs when a person’s nasal cavity does not drain properly, allowing mucus to build up and drip into the air. Mucous can become thicker and therefore more irritating to the person.
Allergies trigger your own body to manufacture more mucous. When mucous builds up, it causes blockage of the nasal passage and this causes discomfort. During the holidays or cold seasons, the atmosphere tends to be dryer than usual. Dry air can cause irritation to the nasal mucous lining, which makes it even harder to clear the mucous.
There are some medications that cause post nasal drip as well. For example, antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroid sprays are all known to contribute to nose congestion. Antihistamines, which can slow down or prevent allergic reactions, contain corticosteroids. Decongestants, like asthma inhalers, work by constricting the blood vessels in the nasal area, which is what causes mucus to build up in the first place.
In order to stop post nasal drip, there are some simple steps you can take to lessen the effects of the mucous build up. For example, try not to lie down immediately after getting out of bed if you are suffering from post-nasal drip. You should always get out of bed with some sort of motion, whether that is walking sneezing, or swimming. It doesn’t matter how you get out of bed, but just make sure that you do. Also, try using saline drops or using saline throat sprays to keep the mucous from building up in your throat.
If these attempts do not alleviate your post nasal drip symptoms, then it is possible that you have some kind of allergy that is causing the mucous build up. In this case, you will need to see a doctor and find out exactly what allergies you may have. You may just have to take antihistamines to help get the problems under control again.
In order to prevent further problems from happening, make sure that you avoid anything that causes vibration to enter into the nose. These include things like loud music, smoky candles, and perfume. These tend to dry out the lining of the sinuses, which makes it easier for mucous to collect. The best way to combat this is by not smoking and never consuming things that contain alcohol, either. You should also try to drink plenty of water every day to keep yourself hydrated, and avoid using mints or citrus-flavored products when you feel the need to bring on a glass of water.
For people who have constant post nasal drip symptoms, there are a number of treatments available that can alleviate the situation. The easiest way to do this is to simply use a saline nasal spray. This can be found in most pharmacies and is inexpensive, easy to administer, and works wonders. If these methods do not work for you find that they make your symptoms worse, then you should see your doctor to figure out the cause of the problem.
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