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Post-nasal Drip Associated With Sinusitis

Published on Nov 17, 2017 and last reviewed on Mar 26, 2022   -  4 min read


Post-nasal drip is the dripping of mucus from the nasal and sinus passages down the back of the throat. This article discusses in detail this common health nuisance.

Post-nasal Drip Associated With Sinusitis

What Is a Post-nasal Drip?

Post-nasal drip is defined as the dripping of mucus from the nasal and sinus passages down the back of the throat. It is a common health condition affecting males and females equally and is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society. The common causes of post-nasal drip may include allergies, asthma, viral infections (including the common cold), eating spicy foods, deviated nasal septum, irritants in the air (such as fumes or dust), pregnancy, medication, acid reflux, neurological inflammations, and sinus infections.

Post-nasal drip can also be caused due to sinusitis. It can be the only symptom of sinusitis, or it may have other symptoms, like nasal congestion, facial pain, and colored nasal discharge.

Who Is at Risk to Get a Post-nasal Drip?

It commonly affects people in urban areas. It is invariably related to chronic rhinosinusitis and is common in people who are prone to allergy or with a family history of atopy or asthma. Frequent exposure to environmental pollutants and allergens causes repeated inflammation of the sinus and nasal mucus linings, leading to a thickening of the membranes and excess mucus production.

This excess mucus accumulates within the sinuses and drips down the throat, causing a feeling of post-nasal drip. Unfortunately, it also provides a suitable environment for bacterial growth and infection.

What Are the Common Allergens Associated With Post-nasal Drip?

The common allergens associated with post nasal drip are:

What Are the Conditions That Can Cause Post-nasal Drip?

The following is the list of condition that causes post-nasal drip:

What Are the Symptoms of Post-nasal Drip?

The symptoms of post-nasal drip may include:

  1. A feeling of something dripping at the back of the throat.

  2. A dry cough.

  3. Tickle in the throat.

  4. Itchy, sore throat.

  5. Blocked nose and sinuses.

  6. A feeling of phlegm or mucus stuck in the throat.

  7. Chronic throat clearing.

  8. A lump in or on the throat or neck.

  9. Sores inside the nose take time to heal.

  10. Excessive headache or sinus pain.

  11. Swelling of the throat or tongue.

What Are the Remedies That Provide Relief From Post-nasal Drip Associated With Sinusitis?

Avoiding repeated exposure to allergens can significantly reduce the symptoms of chronic sinusitis and post-nasal drip. However, the following measures can help treat the condition.

Moreover, it is important to treat chronic sinusitis to clear the excess mucus in the sinuses.


OTC (Over-the-Counter) Decongestant: The doctor may advise this drug to relieve cough caused by post-nasal drip. It helps reduce congestion in the nasal cavity by narrowing the blood vessels. Avoid using decongestants for more than three days. They are available in both spray and tablet form. Stop using the drug and consult with your physician if there is no relief.

Prescription Drugs:

If home remedies fail to work, you can take certain medications to cure the cough. The doctor may advise you of certain prescription drugs like antihistamines, corticosteroids, and anti-drip nasal sprays to relieve post-nasal drip symptoms like cough, sore throat, etc. Corticosteroids are used to treat post-nasal drip caused by non-allergic rhinitis. Anti-drip nasal sprays or anticholinergic drugs are usually prescribed for asthmatic patients and treat cough caused by post-nasal drip in asthma inhalers.

What Are the Complications of Post-nasal Drip?

The complications of post-nasal drip include:

When to Seek a Physician’s Help for Post-nasal Drip?

Seek urgent medical attention if having the following symptoms:


Post-nasal drip is not a life-threatening condition, and it can usually resolve on its own. But when the symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, it is accompanied by a foul-smelling discharge, difficulty breathing, or fever. If this occurs, you should consult with a healthcare professional to rule out the cause.


Frequently Asked Questions


How Long Does It Take for a Post-Nasal Drip to Go Away?

Post-nasal drip is among the most frequently seen causes of chronic cough, hoarseness, sore throat, etc. Normally, a post-nasal drip lasts only for ten days. But, if the person has any underlying cause of post-nasal drip that is severe and untreated, then it can even last for months to years.


What Conditions Cause Post-Nasal Drip?

The following is the list of condition that causes post-nasal drip:
- Common cold.
- Fever.
- Allergic rhinitis.
- Sinus infection.
- Foreign body obstruction at the nasal pathways.
- Pregnancy.
- Oral contraceptives and antihypertensive medications.


What Foods Should Be Avoided to Relieve the Post-Nasal Drip?

The following are the foods that have to be avoided when you are affected with post-nasal drip:
- Milk.
- Yogurt.
- Cheese.
- Banana.
- Ice cream.
- Curd.


Can I Get Rid of Post-Nasal Drip Naturally?

The following are the natural methods for relieving post-nasal drip:
- Use of a humidifier or vaporizer.
- Usage of a saline nasal mist to thin out the mucus.
- Avoiding cigarette smoke.
- Gargle with lukewarm salt water.
- Drink herbal tea.


Can Bananas Aggravate Post-Nasal Drip?

Foods that have increased histamine levels can trigger your body to produce more mucus. Bananas are one among them, and that is the reason why bananas can aggravate post-nasal drip. Other fruits that also high histamine levels include strawberries, pineapple, and papaya.


Which Tea Is the Best in Relieving Post-Nasal Drip?

The warmth provided by various herbal teas helps in soothing a sore throat and post-nasal drip. The best type of tea that helps in relieving post-nasal drip is the ginger and thyme tea. It has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties that can calm the irritated throat and significantly decrease the overproduction of mucus.


How Do I Sleep When I Have Post-Nasal Drip?

Elevating your head while sleeping can provide significant relief of post-nasal drip. The usage of two or more pillows and books under the bottom of your head can provide a good degree of elevation that is needed for the relief.


Can Post-Nasal Drip Enter Into My Lungs?

Yes, post-nasal drip can enter and drain into the trachea and the lungs. This primarily happens when the patient is sleeping or when the patient has a thicker viscous post-nasal drip. It might easily enter the respiratory pathways.


Will I Suffocate Due to Post-Nasal Drip?

Yes, post-nasal drip can block your airway and might trigger symptoms such as coughing and gasping. People who have experienced these symptoms often explain it as a suffocation. However, this happens only in severe cases of post-nasal drip.


Can Salt Water Gargle Help Post-Nasal Drip?

Yes, gargling with lukewarm water and rock salt can help clear out the mucus present in the throat. It can also provide a soothing feel during a sore throat. Salt has significant antiinflammatory properties that can speed up the relief of post-nasal drip.


Can a Sinus Infection Cause Post-Nasal Drip?

Yes, sinusitis is a common cause of post-nasal drip. The fluid that gets clogged in the sinuses during an ongoing sinusitis episode can drain into the throat and lead to a post-nasal drip.


How Long Can Post-Nasal Drip Last After a Sinus Infection?

Normally, after a sinus infection, post-nasal drip lasts only for a period of 10 days or more. But if it gets worse, you should immediately consult your doctor because the underlying cause could be a bacterial infection, or any structural problem, especially in the septum of the person’s nose. It might include deviated septum or nasal polyps.


What Conditions Can Constantly Cause Phlegm in My Throat?

Any health conditions that trigger excess mucus production can cause phlegm in the throat. The most common causes are:
- Acid reflux.
- Allergies.
- Asthma.


Can Post-Nasal Drip Go Away on Its Own If It Is Left Untreated?

Most people who get affected by post-nasal drip usually get cured on their own. However, the prognosis primarily depends on the cause of the post-nasal drip. So if the cause is severe, complications can arise if the post-nasal drip is left untreated.


How Do I Treat My Post-Nasal Drip Cough?

The following methods can be used in the treatment of a post-nasal drip cough:
- Intake of medications like Guaifenesin, which belongs to the expectorant class. It helps in the expulsion of mucus.
- Usage of saline nasal sprays or irrigation can flush out mucus, bacteria, allergens from the sinuses.
- Use of a vaporizer or humidifier in order to increase the moisture in the air.


How Does Post-Nasal Drip Cause Sore Throat?

When there is too much mucus in the throat, it might make the person feel hoarseness in the throat and give him or her a sore, scratchy throat. By this mechanism, a post-nasal drip can cause a sore throat.


Which Medicines Can Be Taken for Post-Nasal Drip?

Over-the-counter nasal decongestants such as Pseudoephedrine can be used to reduce nasal congestion and eliminate post-nasal drip. The recent advancement of non-drowsy antihistamines are also very effective against post-nasal drip.


What Is the Best Treatment for Postnasal Drip?

The following are the best treatment modes in curing post-nasal drip:
- Non-drowsy antihistamines such as Loratadine and Pseudoephedrine should be taken for several days to achieve maximum effect.
- Saline nasal sprays can help soften the affected individual’s nasal passages and relieve post-nasal drip symptoms.
These drugs should be taken only under a proper prescription from a physician.

Last reviewed at:
26 Mar 2022  -  4 min read



Dr. Mashfika N Alam


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