Understanding Post Nasal Drip

Post-nasal drip usually arises as a symptom of an underlying condition. In most cases, conditions pertaining to the respiratory system are the culprit, but some allergens (even food allergies) and irritants can also trigger a post-nasal drip. While post-nasal drip can be quite bothersome, it is usually not very serious. Here are a group of terms that can help you make sense of post-nasal drip and how it is usually treated.

Muciparous glands. These are the glands found in the respiratory system that release mucus. This mucus serves to retain moisture in the nasal cavities to facilitate the expulsion of germs and fend off infections. The regular consistency of your mucus is not even noticeable, but when it gets too loose or dense, this can trigger the symptom of post-nasal drip and a feeling of fluid buildup in the throat.

Parasympathetic nervous system. A division of the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system plays a key role in the stimulation of essential bodily functions, including mucus secretion, salivation, urination, and digestion.  

Nonallergic rhinitis. Also known as vasomotor rhinitis, this condition is associated with chronic congestion, sneezing, or a runny nose. Though its cause is a mystery, the excess mucus production brought on by nonallergic rhinitis usually also leads to post-nasal drip. Some common treatment approaches include the use of decongestant nasal sprays and antihistamines.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a chronic disease that pertains to the incomplete closure of the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows for the stomach acid to move back into the esophagus, causing irritation in the food pipe. GERD is also known to cause post-nasal drip.

Chronic Sinusitis. This is a respiratory condition that typically persists for a few months. Chronic sinusitis may be caused by infections, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum and is usually difficult to treat. Consequently, chronic sinusitis-induced post-nasal drip may also be quite stubborn. Treatment of chronic sinusitis may necessitate surgery.

A deviated septum. A deviated septum refers to a physiological irregularity where the thin wall that parts the nostrils is misaligned, which can obstruct drainage in the nasal cavities, resulting in post-nasal drip. A deviated septum may either be genetic (you are born with it) or it may happen due to a physical trauma.

Otolaryngologist. This is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions pertaining to the nose, ears, and throat. Although your primary family doctor may be able to help you with some such conditions, in cases where a more in-depth expertise is needed, you are usually referred to an otolaryngologist.

Nasal irrigation systems. Nasal irrigation is an all-natural and considerably effective form of post-nasal drip treatment. Many nasal irrigation systems are available for treatment of nasal congestion and post-nasal drip, which is most commonly known as a neti pot. Patients use saline or simply mixing baking soda or salt with lukewarm water to clear out their sinuses to lessen post-nasal dripping.

Endoscopic sinus surgery. In some cases, self-care strategies and medications do not suffice to address the problems caused by chronic sinus conditions. At this stage, your doctor may recommend endoscopic sinus surgery. This purpose of this operation is to expand the passages that connect the sinuses to the nose in order to correct drainage.

Dysphagia. This is a condition that causes trouble swallowing, which is more prevalent among the elderly. A difficulty with swallowing can lead food particles and liquids to build up in the throat, which may not directly cause post-nasal drip but can exacerbate it if an individual already has post-nasal drip.
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Posted on May 22, 2023