Whenever the body is exposed to an infection, it produces a lot of mucus to trap and eliminate the invader. However, if there is a constant infection, the body may produce too much mucus that can combine with saliva and get stuck in the back of the throat. When that happens, you will get something called a postnasal drip.
A postnasal drip can be extremely aggravating because it causes throat irritation, sore and scratchy throat, frequent clearing of the throat, excessive spitting, foul breath, and cough.
Luckily, there are over the counter medications to help reduce the symptoms of a postnasal drip. Here is some insight regarding this condition and what you can do to stop it.
What Causes a Postnasal Drip?
There are various causes of postnasal drip such as allergies, cold, flu, pregnancy, sinus infection, medication side effects, deviated septums, a particular food, fumes, and change in weather.
The whole process of this etiology is that they cause the body to produce a significant amount of thick mucus that can cause irritation and a sticky sensation in the back of the throat.
Over the Counter Medication for Postnasal Drip
There is a variety of OTC medications that can treat a post-nasal drip. The most common ones are antihistamines and decongestants. The traditional medication that people go for is loratadine (Claritin and Alavert), fexofenadine (Allegra), cetirizine (Zyrtec), levocetirizine (Xyzal), and loratadine (Clarinex).
There are other excellent choices like Mucinex, which can help break up the bond within the mucus secretion to loosen it. There are also oral decongestants like Sudafed, which consists of pseudoephedrine properties to reduce congestion and mucus.
Another type of nasal decongestant is Afrin, which constricts a blood vessel to reduce mucus secretion. However, this type of medication cannot be taken for more than 3 to 5 days because of rebound congestion. Rebound congestion occurs when you take this nasal decongestion in the long-term, and the body develops a tolerance to it. That means, the blood vessels in your nasal cavity is reliant on the medication that it will not function properly, therefore, resulting in more congestion than before.
There is over-the-counter nasal spray called Flonase, which does an excellent job to provide fast congestion relief, therefore, reducing the mucus buildup in your sinus and back of the throat.
Other Strategies to Get Rid of Postnasal Drip
There are a variety of strategies for getting rid of postnasal drip. You can use a steam or humidifier inhalation such as taking a shower, keep yourself well hydrated, stick to a healthy diet, and propping up the pillow when you go to sleep at night. You can also use a Neti pot as nasal irrigation. You will need to tilt your head to the side and place the Neti pot in your nostrils, and slowly pour the water to one side of the nose.
There are also other remedies such as gargling warm salty water to clear up mucus from the back of the throat. Keep in mind that it’s best to avoid cigarettes because the smoke can irritate your nasal passage which can cause severe cough and other uncomfortable symptoms.
However, the best medication would be to get plenty of rest to strengthen the immune system so it can get rid of the virus. When the infection is gone, the body will stop producing mucus and rejuvenate back to its normal self.
What About Chicken Soup?
Chicken soup is an excellent way to provide temporary relief and comfort. The soup is hot and nutritious, and while drinking it, the steam can enter into your nose and throat to thin out the mucus.
The soup can also prevent dehydration which can make you feel much better. This is the same concept as to how a hot steamy shower can alleviate your symptoms.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
There are some precautions to take when it comes to postnasal drip. It’s best to cover your mattress and pillowcase to prevent dust mites. Dust mites can get into your nasal cavity and irritate your throat. It could stimulate the body to create more mucus, which can aggravate the symptoms.
You should also wash your pillowcase, mattress, and sheets with hot water. Make sure to use HEPA air filters in your home to remove small particles. Another thing to note is to keep your home clean and to vacuum and dust on a regular basis.
When to See a Doctor
If you have been taking over-the-counter medication and trying other strategies for loosening up the mucus, and there’s no improvement, then you may have to see a doctor.
There are other symptoms to take into consideration, such as high fever, discolored mucus, or foul-smelling mucus. All of this may signify that you have a potential bacterial infection. Unlike a virus, bacteria will not go away on its own. They tend to cause more severe symptoms than a virus. Bacteria can release toxic agents that cause abnormal odor and color of your mucus.
Usually, these colors range from green to dark yellow. If you see any of these signs and symptoms, definitely see a doctor for a culture test. Another red flag would be blood in the mucus. Your healthcare provider might have to do an x-ray or a CT scan to check for potential pneumonia or other underlying conditions. After that, your provider will prescribe antibiotic medication to get rid of the infection.
Postnasal drip is a way for the body to get rid of the infectious agent. It’s a healthy defense mechanism, but it can cause uncomfortable symptoms. Luckily, with over the counter decongestants, antihistamines, or nasal sprays, it can help alleviate the symptoms by loosening up the mucus or constricting the nasal blood vessels.
However, if these OTCs do not work, it’s best to see your healthcare provider for a culture, physical exam, and imaging test to find the underlying cause. Your doctor may have to prescribe you antibiotic medication for potential bacterial infection.
At the end of the day, you just want to recover from this condition. Fortunately, with all the strategies and tips that we provided above, you will experience a successful and rapid recovery.
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