What Is Post-Nasal Drip? – How It Can Cause Chronic Cough And 5 Ways You Can Treat Symptoms.

Recurrent or chronic cough, one of the most common types of cough, can be caused by various factors and conditions. These include allergies, asthma, acid reflux, upper respiratory infection, smoking, and constant exposure to smoke or smog. There is also another cause that not many people are aware of: post-nasal drip.

What Is Post-Nasal Drip and How Is It Associated With Cough?

Post-nasal drip pertains to the feeling of mucus secretions moving down the back of the throat. It is often a tickling sensation that makes you want to cough or clear your throat.

Ingesting mucus from your nose and sinuses is normal, whether you are sick or not. When you swallow it, it is mixed with saliva, thus making it harmless. However, if your body produces too much mucus or if it is too thick, it becomes more noticeable and even annoying.

Because of the over-secretion of mucus, this substance drips down from your nose into your throat, thereby making you cough. If your cough does not go away, you will have to deal with another condition in addition to the post-nasal drip. Until you treat these two ailments, you will keep coughing and experiencing the other related uncomfortable symptoms.

When post-nasal drip is accompanied by abnormal sensations in the throat and a chronic cough, you may have upper airway cough syndrome. This condition was called post-nasal drip syndrome in the past. It is an ailment typically related to nose and sinus problems.

What Are the Common Causes Of Post Nasal Drip?

Like cough and colds, post-nasal drip can be caused by health and lifestyle issues and environmental factors.

These most common causes include:

Common allergies such as hay fever, mold, and pet allergies

The allergens often trigger post-nasal drip since the body produces more mucus to flush out or get rid of these substances.

Cold weather and dry air

These environmental conditions can irritate your nose and throat. As a result, your body will try to create more mucus to moisten and warm these passages to relieve the irritation.

Additionally, colder temperatures are typically associated with flu, colds, and other types of viral infection. These ailments can cause (and are usually accompanied by) post-nasal drip.

Sinusitis

Aside from causing a runny or blocked nose, cough, loss of smell, and facial pain or pressure, acute sinusitis inflammation also triggers the post-nasal drip. This is because when you have this condition, your body also tends to produce more mucus which can find its way to your throat if you can’t expel it.

Deviated septum

This is a condition wherein the nasal septum or the bone and cartilage that divides the nostrils is crooked, off-center, or damaged. People who have a deviated septum usually have breathing difficulties.

This condition also makes it hard for the body to drain mucus properly. When this happens continuously, you will experience the symptoms of post-nasal drip.

Below are other causes of post-nasal drip:

  • Smoking and inhaling smoke or environmental fumes frequently
  • Objects stuck in the nose
  • Medications
  • Eating too spicy food
  • Chronic respiratory conditions including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and obstructive sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux

Common Symptoms Of Post Nasal Drip

Below are the usual symptoms associated with post-nasal drip:

  • A feeling of constant irritation or “tickle” in the throat that makes you want to clear it often
  • Sore throat
  • Recurrent or chronic cough
  • Excessive phlegm in the throat
  • Hoarseness or wheezing when inhaling

In some cases, post-nasal drip also causes a blocked or runny nose and halitosis or bad breath.

5 DIY Treatment's for Post-Nasal Drip

To avoid the uncomfortable and annoying symptoms of post-nasal drip, which include recurrent cough, you need to treat the condition immediately.

Below are the most recommended and effective treatment options:

1. Use steam

Steam efficiently loosens and clears mucus from the back of your throat, thus easing your post-nasal drip.

To use this treatment properly, fill a bowl with hot water. Add two drops of eucalyptus oil if you want some fragrance and to clear your nasal passageways faster. Inhale the steam under a towel. 

You can also take a hot shower. Put two drops of eucalyptus oil on the shower floor as well and inhale the steam.

2. Drink more fluids

Staying hydrated is crucial in getting rid of post-nasal drip. When you drink plenty of liquids, you help thin out the mucus, thus making it easier to expel it. Conversely, if you are not getting enough fluids, the secretions become more stubborn and will stick to your passages.

Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Add herbal tea and hot soup to your daily diet as well.

However, avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages since they can cause dehydration. They will aggravate your cough and other symptoms, too.

3. Manage your allergies

If you notice that an allergy caused your post-nasal drip, be on guard against the usual allergens.

Limit your exposure to pollen, molds, pets, or the substance that causes your allergies to flare up. Protect your home from these allergens as well. Have your dog stay in a doghouse in your backyard. Additionally, install dust-mite covers and HEPA filters.

Make sure your walls and ceilings are always clean to prevent the start of molds. Additionally, consider removing carpets to keep dust and dust mites at bay. Wash sheets frequently in hot water as well.

4. Clear your sinuses

A sinus flush is one of the most effective treatments for post-nasal drip. It is particularly helpful if allergies or pollution are the causes of your ailment.

The simplest way to rinse your nasal cavity is to use a neti pot. First, fill the container with a saline solution. Next, go to the bathroom sink and pour the solution into one nostril. Let the liquid run through your sinuses and out the other nostril. Do the same with the other nasal passage.

With this sinus rinsing method, aside from flushing out dirt and allergens, you flush out excess mucus. As a result, you will breathe better and easier.  

You can also use an over-the-counter saline spray to clear your nasal passages. They come in spray and drops bottles.

5. Keep your head elevated when sleeping

Mucus buildup sometimes gets worse at night. If you notice the same, prop two or three pillows under your head to minimize the amount of mucus you feel in your throat and airways. This will promote drainage of the nasal secretions as well.

Additionally, keeping your head elevated will also help you avoid GERD, which is another possible cause of your post-nasal drip.

With your head propped up six to eight inches higher, you will ensure the acid in your stomach flows down and not up while you are asleep. And this will help you minimize your post-nasal drip symptoms.

Final Words

Since you also have a cough, make sure you always have the best medicine and home remedy for cough handy. Treating both ailments at the same time will help you get rid of all other symptoms and speed up your recovery.