Post-nasal drip, also referred to as post nasal drip syndrome (PNDS) or upper airway cough syndrome (UACS), occurs when excessive mucus (a thick and wet substance that moistens your nose, airways, throat, intestinal tract and stomach in order to help trap and destroy such foreign invaders as viruses and bacteria before they can get into your body and infect you), produced by the nasal mucosa, builds up or accumulates in the back of your nose or throat. Normally, it’s not a medical condition, but it may be a signal of a medical condition (rhinitis, sinusitis, infection, etc.) that causes production and accumulation of excessive mucus.

Every day glands in the lining of your mucus producing areas produce about 1 to 2 quarts of mucus, which you don’t notice because it first gets mixed with saliva and then drips down from your nose to the back of the throat to be swallowed gradually and continuously throughout the day. This is considered to be normal. Only when your body starts producing more mucus than usual and it’s thicker than normal, and even more noticeable (comes out in the form of a runny nose or down to the throat), then you have what is called a post-nasal drip.

PNDS: Causes & Symptoms

Post-nasal drip syndrome is triggered by excess mucus production, which is usually caused by:

  • allergy (allergic type);
  • sinusitis (sinuses infection or inflammation);
  • cold;
  • flu;
  • deviated septum (abnormal wall placement that separates nostrils) or any other anatomical problem affecting the sinuses;
  • object stuck in the nose (common in children);
  • mucus being cleared away ineffectively;
  • medications (including blood pressure medications and birth control pills);
  • pregnancy;
  • certain foods (spicy foods are known to trigger mucus flow);
  • fumes from cleaning products, chemicals, perfumes, smoke, etc.;
  • cold temperatures, excess air dryness, changing weather fronts, etc.;
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

But in order to define the right cause for post-nasal drip being diagnosed, much attention should be paid to the symptoms, which include the following:

  • constant swallowing (leads to discomfort because of excessive air in the stomach);
  • congestion in the sinus and nasal passages;
  • rigid burning sensation or mucus feeling at back of the throat;
  • rhinorrhea;
  • chronic sore throat;
  • frontal cranial pressure;
  • coughing or wheezing;
  • tickling in the throat;
  • frequent spitting;
  • cracking or broken voice;
  • constant clearing of throat;
  • halitosis (bad breath);
  • trouble breathing;
  • vomiting;
  • nausea;
  • fatigue.

How to Remedy a Post-Nasal Drip: PNDS Treatment Methods

PNDS treatment depends, first of all, on the root cause of the problem. Usually, these are bacterial infections, viruses or allergies that correspond to the upper airway cough syndrome, and they are treated respectively. Most common PNDS treatments include:

  • allergy medications (antihistamines, nasal steroids (both alone or in combination), decongestants);
  • nasal irrigation (squirt bottles, bulb syringes, pulsatile nasal irrigators);
  • antibiotics (used to treat bacterial infections);
  • acid control medication;
  • sinus massage;
  • minor surgery.