Typically, the mucus produced by the glands that line the nose and sinuses are pushed downward to the throat through an invisible hair-like celia on the surface of the lining. This mucus provides lubrication of the nasal membranes, traps and eliminates foreign substances as well as fights infection. In usual cases, the mucus is drained into the stomach without resulting to any form of irritation or harm. However in some medical conditions, conditions of the atmosphere, allergens and medications may trigger malfunctioning of the normal secretion and flow of the mucus.
When there is increased production of nasal mucus, the celia will not be capable of controlling the flow. As a result, mucus will accumulate in the back of the nose. The accumulated mucus becomes sticky and thick obstructing the nasal passages. This mucus can be released through the back of the throat resulting to a sensation of dripping. Post nasal drip is the term used when the accumulated mucus drains through the back of the throat. This mucus could be sticky, thin or thick depending on the underlying cause. Although, this is not a life-threatening condition, this can lead to other problems such as sinus and ear infections. That is why the condition needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Treatment of this condition will be based on the cause. Thus, it is very important to have a proper diagnosis through X-ray, laboratory and endoscopic studies of the throat, nose and ear. In case the cause is allergies, it can be treated with steroid nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants and other types of steroids. This kind of post nasal drip may be controlled to some extent by staying away from the causes. When the cause is bacterial infection, this can be treated with antibiotics. However, chronic form of sinus infections will need surgery to open the obstructed sinuses. Laryngopharyngeal acid reflux may be treated with antacids and also with medicines which block the production of acid in the stomach. In case the cause will not be diagnosed, medications may be used to thin the mucus. Several measures can also be observed to allow free flow of mucus. These include avoidance of caffeine and alcohol as well as intake of more fluids. Some post nasal drip home remedies may also be used which are appropriate for a person’s physical condition.
If post nasal drip is left untreated, this will result to upper respiratory infections, ear infections, severe sinus infections and sore throat. For the treatment of this condition, one can approach a doctor who will refer you to an otolaryngologist, allergist or a gastroenterologist. Immediate medical attention may be necessary, in case a person will experience other symptoms such as bloody or foul-smelling discharge and high fever. Those who experience prolonged or greater than ten days of post nasal drip should see a doctor at once.