Post nasal drip is a common problem that affects people with allergies and other medical conditions that affects the ability of the body to clear mucus from the nose and throat. It can be defined as a mucus accumulation in the nose and back of the throat that leads to the problem of mucus dripping from the back of the nose. Chronic post nasal drip can lead to problems such as sore throat and cough, making this condition a bothersome one for many people.
Why the Body Produces Mucus
Many people think that the production of mucus is a bad thing. Mucus is actually a normal secretion that serves an important function. Approximately 2 quarts of mucus are produced each day, which helps to keep the nasal passages and respiratory tract clean. Tiny hairs called cilia line the surface of the nasal cavity and trap particles from the air, allowing the mucus blanket to travel to the back of the throat. When the mucus production process is disrupted in some way, post nasal drip can result.
What Can Change Mucus Levels in the Body
There are many factors that can affect how much mucus the body produces and the consistency of the mucus produced. Some of these factors are medical conditions and others are environmental factors or problems with the anatomy of the nose. Medical conditions contributing to increased mucus production include allergies, viruses, sinus and nasal infections, and hormonal imbalances. Environmental factors leading to increased mucus production or thickness include cold temperatures, low humidity, and irritants such as tobacco smoke and air pollution. Structural abnormalities such as enlarged adenoids or a deviated septum can also caused thickened nasal secretions.
Curing Post Nasal Drip
While there is no definitive post nasal drip cure, some treatments can be used to restore the normal level of mucus production and thin mucus so that it can be removed from the body properly. Steroid sprays can shrink inflamed nasal tissues and help clear up other symptoms such as runny nose and sneezing. Oral steroids can be used for short-term problems while under the supervision of a physician. For patients suffering from post nasal drip due to allergies, antihistamines can be used to block the histamine reaction to allergen exposure.
While mucus thinning agents cannot be considered a post nasal drip cure, they can be used to thin secretions and make them less sticky. This helps prevent mucus from pooling the back of the throat and causing coughing and choking. Along with mucus thinning agents, increased intake of water can help thin these secretions.