Postnasal drip happens when excess mucus from your nose builds up and drips down the back of your throat. Mucus gets a bad rap, but in fact, a certain amount of it is healthy. You probably don't even notice it, but your body constantly makes mucus every day to moisten your nasal lining, trap and clear irritants you inhale, and to help fight infections.1 However, when your normal mucus production shifts into overdrive causing postnasal drip, that’s your body’s way of responding to a cold, allergy, or another irritant. While it can be bothersome, postnasal drip often goes away on its own.2 If you have other symptoms along with postnasal drip or experience it repeatedly or for a prolonged time, talk to your healthcare provider.
What Causes Postnasal Drip?1
It may occur for many reasons, but the common cause of postnasal drip is allergies—called allergic postnasal drip.
Sinus and bacterial infections — when nasal cavities become inflamed
Changing weather and dry air — the body may create more mucus to moisturize nasal passages
Bright lights — may trigger the body to produce excess mucus
Spicy foods — can aggravate non-allergic sinus attacks
Deviated septum — when one nasal passage is smaller than the other, it can adversely affect the sinuses
*Ask your doctor before using any products to treat postnasal drip while pregnant or breastfeeding. Use products only as directed on label when treating postnasal drip.
What Does Postnasal Drip Feel Like?1
Postnasal drip can often feel like thick mucus is constantly draining down the back of your throat, think of it like a reverse runny nose. This can cause the sensation of a lump in your throat that gives you the urge to swallow more frequently. You may also feel an annoying tickle in your throat, or worse, a sore throat, or cough.
What are the Symptoms of Postnasal Drip?2
The excess mucus from Postnasal drip can exacerbate a variety of symptoms that may be related to inflammation or swelling of the nasal passages.1 Such symptoms include:
A feeling of mucus draining into the throat
An urge to clear your throat
Cough that worsens at night
Nausea — from excess mucus draining to your stomach
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