It may not be pleasant to think about, but your body is a mucus-making machine. Your nose and throat together produce about 1-2 quarts of mucus each day, and glands that line your intestinal tract, stomach, and airways make even more.
Most of the time, you swallow this mucus without noticing it. But for some people, mucus builds up and drips down the back of the throat, causing a condition called postnasal drip.
Besides giving you the sensation that you have mucus running down your throat, postnasal drip can trigger other symptoms, including:
- Feeling like you need to swallow frequently
- Feeling like you have a lump of tickle in your throat
- Feeling like you need to clear your throat frequently
- Hoarseness or sore throat
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
- Chronic cough (often worse at night)
- Nausea and vomiting from excess mucus in your stomach
- Chronic ear infections
People don’t always get postnasal drip for the same reason. Understanding the cause of your excess mucus is a key part in creating an effective treatment plan.
At Jacksonville ENT Surgery with offices in Lake City, Florida, and multiple locations in Jacksonville, Florida, our board-certified ear-nose-throat (ENT) providers specialize in helping patients get to the bottom of their postnasal drip.
Keep reading to learn more about postnasal drip, some common causes of the condition, and how we can help you breathe easier.
What’s causing my postnasal drip?
Postnasal drip can be acute or chronic. When you have an upper respiratory infection, like the cold or flu, your nose naturally produces more mucus. This may lead to acute postnasal drip. Pregnancy, spicy foods, and changes in the weather can also cause acute postnasal drip.
Acute postnasal drip caused by a common infection typically goes away on its own once your infection clears or the cause resolves. You can help by drinking plenty of water and taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications to address your symptoms.
For patients with chronic postnasal drip, there are many possible causes. Here are some of the most common reasons people suffer from ongoing postnasal drip:
- Allergies (seasonal or environmental)
- Chronic inflammation of the nose (rhinitis)
- Chronic sinus infections (sinusitis)
- Hormonal imbalances
- Certain medications (e.g., certain blood pressure medicines)
- Deviated septum (crooked placement of the wall that separates your nostrils)
- Swallowing problems caused by GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
Nasal polyps, or non-cancerous growths in the lining of your sinuses and/or nose, can also trigger chronic postnasal drip. This is because they can block the flow of mucus and cause a buildup.
Is there help for postnasal drip?
Yes! But treating postnasal drip means understanding the root cause. Your Jacksonville ENT Surgery provider first examines your ears, nose, and throat to better understand the cause of your postnasal drip.
Some patients may need a nasal endoscopy, a simple procedure that uses a small tube with a special camera to look inside your nose and throat, or X-rays to look at the structure of your nose.
Once your provider understands the cause of your postnasal drip, they create a personalized treatment plan to address your symptoms. If allergies are the root cause, they may recommend medications like antihistamines, steroids, or nasal decongestants.
Patients who develop chronic sinusitis that causes postnasal drip may get long-term relief from a simple nonsurgical procedure called a balloon sinuplasty.
If you have a deviated septum, your Jacksonville ENT provider may suggest a surgical procedure called a septoplasty to correct your nasal passages and permanently treat your postnasal drip.
Patients whose postnasal drip is caused by allergic or non-allergic chronic rhinitis may benefit from one of two procedures:
- ClariFix®: A treatment that freezes a targeted nerve to block the signal from the back of your nose to produce mucus and trigger nasal swelling
- RhinAer®: A similar treatment that uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to achieve the same results
Tired of dealing with chronic postnasal drip? Get to the bottom of it and get the treatment you need to feel better by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at the Jacksonville ENT Surgery location nearest you.