Every day, glands in the lining of the nose, stomach, throat, and intestinal tract produce about 2 quarts of mucus, a thick, wet substance that moistens these areas and helps trap foreign materials like bacteria. Only when the body produces more mucus than usual or the mucus is thicker than normal, it is noticeable. When the mucus runs down the back of the nose to the throat, it is called Postnasal Drip. Postnasal Drip creates an annoying feeling that makes you want to clear the throat. Postnasal Drip is the most common cause of chronic cough.
HOW IS POSTNASAL DRIP DIAGNOSED?
The diagnosis of the same is done by an ENT who would observe the level of the mucus drip and also do a culture test if needed.
HOW IS POSTNASAL DRIP TREATED?
First-generation antihistamine has been suggested as first-line therapy to treat post-nasal drip.
• Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. These drugs may only provide temporary relief. In cases of chronic sinusitis, surgery to open the blocked sinuses may be required.
• Allergies are managed by avoiding the causes. Antihistamines and decongestants, cromolyn and steroid (cortisone type) nasal sprays, and other forms of steroids may offer relief. Immunotherapy, either by shots or sublingual (under the tongue drops) may also be helpful. However, some older, sedating antihistamines may dry and thicken post-nasal secretions even more, newer non-sedating antihistamines, available by prescription only, do not have this effect. Decongestants can aggravate high blood pressure, heart, and thyroid disease. Steroid sprays may be used safely under medical supervision. Oral and injectable steroids rarely produce serious complications in short-term use. Because significant side-effects can occur, steroids must be monitored carefully when used for more than one week.
• Gastro esophageal reflux is treated by elevating the head of the bed six to eight inches, avoiding foods and beverages for two to three hours before bedtime, and eliminating alcohol and caffeine from the daily diet. Antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Gaviscon, and drugs that block stomach acid production such as Zantac, Tagamet, or Pepcid may be prescribed. If these are not successful, stronger medications can be prescribed.
DID YOU KNOW?
Trial treatments are usually suggested before x-rays and other diagnostic studies are performed