Sinus Infections

Understanding Severe Post-Nasal Drip

September 10, 2019

4 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

What is the difference between “normal” post-nasal drip and severe post-nasal drip? How long can post-nasal drip last? And where does sinus drainage go? We receive questions like this at Kaplan Sinus Relief all the time, and for good reason. Severe post-nasal drip comes with a bevy of uncomfortable symptoms and can leave you feeling tired and miserable.

Luckily, the ENT experts at Kaplan Sinus Relief provide several helpful severe post-nasal drip treatments. Learn more about severe post-nasal drip, it’s causes, symptoms, and potential avenues toward relief. And remember: Always feel free to call Kaplan Sinus Relief if for all your sinus-related questions: 713-766-1818.

What is severe post-nasal drip?

The nose, throat, and sinuses are constantly producing mucus. This process usually goes unnoticed, as the mucus is typically diluted saliva long before you swallow it. However, this balance of mucus-to-saliva can be affected by outside factors.

Specifically, a change in the environment such as new allergens or a dramatic shift in the weather can create an uptick in mucus production. Additionally, when your body begins to battle viral infections (including the flu and the common cold) they body may react by creating more mucus in an attempt to flush out the invading germs.

If the sinuses begin creating too much mucus due to an uptick in allergens or when you get ill, the excess mucus drains down the back of the throat, resulting in the condition called post-nasal drip. When post-nasal drip lasts for more than ten days or patients have unrelenting symptoms, they may be experiencing severe post-nasal drip. 

Post-nasal drip symptoms 

Non-severe post-nasal drip symptoms vary from person to person, but typically include the following:

  • Itchy, scratchy, sore throat
  • Feeling a constant need to clear your throat and/or swallow
  • Excess coughing, particularly at night
  • Nausea  
  • Bad breath

Is post-nasal drip serious if it never goes away? 

Fortunately, post-nasal drip is a common diagnosis and, outside of severe post-nasal drip cases, frequently clears up on its own. At the same time, post-nasal drip can be triggered by anything from allergens to the common cold or chronic sinus infections, so it can be difficult to identify when this annoying symptom is a sign of a larger issue. 

If you experience any of the following severe post-nasal drip symptoms, contact your ENT doctor immediately:

  • Foul-smelling drainage
  • Bloody mucus
  • Unexplained fever
  • Symptoms that have lasted longer than 10 days

Severe post-nasal drip treatments

To successfully treat post-nasal drip you should choose your remedy based on the cause of the built-up mucus. Common and household remedies include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Oral decongestants or nasal decongestants
  • Saline nasal sprays
  • A vaporizer to help maintain hydration in the environment
  • Avoiding dairy products to prevent additional buildup
  • Drinking hot tea or soup to help thin mucus and maintain hydration

Additional frequently asked questions about severe post-nasal drip

  • How long can post-nasal drip last? Efforts to treat post-nasal drip should be taken early on. However, symptoms of severe post-nasal drip may linger for weeks or months. If early treatments fail or symptoms increase after 10 days, you may need to visit your doctor.
  • Can post-nasal drip cause nausea? Yes, common symptoms of post-nasal drip include nausea and vomiting caused by extra mucus in the stomach. Patients may find relief from post-nasal drip induced nausea by drinking herbal teas, consuming ginger, and avoiding dairy products.
  • How can I stop coughing from post-nasal drip at night? To reduce coughing at night, try keeping a humidifier near your bed. Humid air can help thin the mucus within the sinuses, allowing your cough to subside. Other remedies include continued hydration and sleeping on propped up pillows to prevent mucus from gathering at the back of the throat.
  • Is it normal to experience severe post-nasal drip while pregnant? Unfortunately, yes. For more information, check out our article on post-nasal drip and pregnancy

Find relief from severe post-nasal drip at Kaplan Sinus Relief 

Balloon Sinuplasty is a minimally invasive sinus procedure performed on eligible patients who suffer from chronic sinusitis. During this minimally invasive, in-office procedure, tiny balloons are placed in the sinus cavities, then dilated to expand and widen the sinus passageways and restore proper drainage. 

Tired of dealing with severe post-nasal drip? Forgot what it’s like to live without post-nasal drip sore throat? Balloon sinuplasty at Kaplan Sinus Relief can help. Check out our most recent balloon sinuplasty patient reviews, read up on balloon sinuplasty aftercare, then give us a call at 713-766-1818 to request a consultation today

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