The Asthma Center

Post nasal drip

Your nose and sinuses normally produce 1 - 2 pints of mucus each day when you are in good health. Large quantities of mucus are necessary to clear the respiratory tracts of microorganisms and pollutants. You normally swallow small amounts of accumulated mucus every 30 - 40 seconds without notice. This prevents mucus from accumulating in your throat.

When your throat is dry, you may become aware of post nasal drip. Mucus is normally clear. If post nasal drip is cloudy, milky, or turns color, this may indicate the presence of sinusitis. Mucus becomes discolored due to the accumulation of inflammatory cells, bacteria and dead and fragmented cells.

Drying of the throat can arise from many factors including:

  • Mouth breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Low humidity
  • Sleeping in a cold or overheated room
  • Excessive talking or singing

If you have a sensitive throat or gag reflex, you may even vomit from excessive post nasal drip.

Repetitive throat clearing may produce a post nasal drip sensation from an irritated feeling in the back of the throat. An unconscious habit of throat clearing can turn into a vicious cycle of throat clearing leading to throat irritation and further throat clearing.

Tips for Reducing Post Nasal Drip:

  • Drink water throughout the day
  • Add humidity to the bedroom during dry heating seasons (relative humidity should range from 35 - 45%)
  • Avoid drafts from air conditioners, heating ducts, fans
  • Avoid extremely cold temperatures in the bedroom at night (below 60 F)
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages
  • Use oral decongestants, nasal corticosteroids and nasal sprays to improve nasal congestion and decrease mouth breathing
  • Surgically correct underlying anatomical blockage and/or sinus disease
  • Use nasal saline rinses