Allergies, Sinusitus

Where Does Sinus Drainage Go?

August 23, 2019

4 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

It is natural and healthy for your sinuses to produce mucus — but at the end of the day, where does mucus go? Is sinus drainage normal? And if so, why does it sometimes make us sick? Here, we answer the question, “Where does sinus drainage go?” and share potential remedies for excessive sinus drainage / post-nasal drip.

Sinus drainage anatomy 

One key to knowing the answer to the question, “Where does sinus drainage go?” is having a basic understanding of the anatomy of your sinuses.

As you can see from the diagram above, mucus has two main “exit avenues” from the body: it can either be expelled through your nose, or it can become mixed with your saliva and drain down the back of your throat into your stomach, after which it exits your body by the same means as anything else that goes through your stomach. Both methods are normal, healthy, and occur unnoticed. 

What causes constant sinus drainage?

Before we get into where sinus drainage goes, let’s review why humans have sinus drainage in the first place. Our body produces a sticky, viscous substance called mucus to lubricate the sinuses and to keep outside germs and irritants from finding their way into your sinuses and respiratory system. Mucus plays such an important role in maintaining your health that your body produces up to 1.5 liters of the stuff a day! 

When you’re sick (with a cold, allergies, or a sinus infection, for example) your body responds by producing excess mucus. This overproduction can lead post-nasal drip — a condition in which excess mucus collects at the back of the nose and then drains down the back of the throat (without being properly diluted by saliva). 

Can constant sinus drainage cause additional problems? 

Constant sinus drainage and post-nasal drip have their own set of symptoms. For example, if you’ve ever wondered, “Why do you cough with allergies?” the answer lies within the tickling feeling caused by mucus drainage. And if you’ve ever felt nauseous in conjunction with post-nasal drip, that’s because the excess mucus causing your post-nasal drip also winds up in your stomach, causing sinus drainage nausea.

For more information on issues caused by excessive and/or blocked sinus drainage, read our articles regarding Post-Nasal Drip and Pregnancy and Altitude and Eustachian Tube Problems.

How do you get rid of sinus drainage in your throat? 

Now that you know where sinus drainage goes, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of post-nasal drip. What helpful home remedies? And how do doctors drain sinuses? 

If you have a cold or allergies, you may have luck with the following methods:

  • Maintaining proper hydration helps thin the mucus back down to normal consistency and makes it easier for your body to recover from illness.  
  • Use a Neti pot (with distilled or boiled water only) to flush out excess mucus 
  • Take care to make your home into an allergen-free sanctuary 

If you struggle with chronic post-nasal drip and/or frequent sinus infections, speak with your doctor about the following options:

  • Medication can help provide short-term relief from post-nasal drip symptoms. Used incorrectly, however, they can actually make issues like post-nasal drip worse. 
  • There’s a chance that your nose’s anatomy is contributing to your chronic post-nasal drip and/or sinus infections. If this is the case, your doctor will be able to recommend which procedure — from deviated septum repair to balloon sinuplasty — can best resolve your sinus drainage issues. 

See what life is like *post* post-nasal drip with balloon sinuplasty

As you can see, knowing the answer to the question, “Where does sinus drainage go?” is the first in a series of steps towards eradicating post-nasal drip from your life. And for many, the final step in this journal is balloon sinuplasty. 

Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally-invasive, in-office procedure that can provide long-lasting relief from chronic sinus issues in less than 20 minutes. Kaplan Sinus Relief’s Dr. Michael Kaplan is a pioneer of the procedure and has used the technique helped thousands of Houstonians breathe freely again. 

Ready to see what life is like *post* post-nasal drip? Call Kaplan Sinus Relief at 713-766-1818 or contact us online to request an appointment today. 

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