Postnasal drip is a relatively frequent cause of chronic cough. Since it doesn’t have any other obvious presenting signs, a chronic cough is sometimes the only indication of its presence. A chronic cough lasts for more than eight weeks.

There can be several causes of postnasal drip. Identifying the source and working out ways to address it can help prevent a nagging cough from developing. You can manage most causes of post-nasal drip cough with some simple remedies and lifestyle changes. This article will explore both the causes of and ways to manage a post-nasal drip cough.

What Is Post-nasal Drip? 

Your airways have several glands that are continually producing mucus. The primary purpose of this mucus is to moisten the airway passages and remove foreign particles making their way to the respiratory tract. On most occasions, this mucus is in negligible amounts and is eventually swallowed.

However, in some instances, the mucus production is excessive and slowly trickles from your nostrils to the back of your throat, accumulating and causing irritation. Over time, this excessive mucus results in a postnasal drip, and due to the constant irritation, a persistent cough occurs as a result.

What Are The Causes of Postnasal Drip?

The excessive mucus production linked to postnasal drip can result from several possible underlying causes.

Allergies or continuous exposure to allergens is the most common cause of postnasal drip. This makes postnasal drip more frequent during the change of seasons as at this time, allergens are probably at a peak.

Infections to the respiratory tract and sinuses can also result in a postnasal drip. In addition, recurrent infections can lead to inflammation of the sinuses, which can also cause excessive mucus production. Thus, such infections are more likely to result in a postnasal drip.

For some, a deviated septum can result in a postnasal drip. This condition is primarily because the mucus cannot drain efficiently due to the unequal sizes of the nasal passages. Additionally, previous surgery or trauma to the nasal passages can also result in the inefficient drainage of nasal mucus. 

Other possible causes of a postnasal drip cough include:

  • Changes in weather
  • Constant exposure to cold temperatures
  • Pregnancy
  • Dry air
  • Medications (such as oral contraceptives or certain blood pressure pills)
  • Constant exposure to fumes such as smoke or chemicals
  • Frequent intake of spicy food

How Do I Manage A Postnasal Drip Cough?

It can be relatively difficult to identify a postnasal drip for yourself. However, you might notice yourself constantly clearing your throat to get rid of excess mucus. Experiencing hoarseness and itching in the throat is also a common sign of a drip. Another indication is a chronic cough.

Postnasal drip is one of the most frequent causes of cough, perhaps as common as asthma and stomach acid reflux. The cough from a postnasal drip can be dry and persistent. In many instances, coughing is observed mostly at night when the mucus tends to pool in the throat, provoking a bout.

When you have a chronic cough (lasting for more than eight weeks) it is advisable to see a healthcare professional. This is because if an underlying infection is a cause of the postnasal drip, you might need prescription medications such as antibiotics to manage the symptoms.

Your doctor might also recommend antihistamines, decongestants, and steroid nasal sprays. These work well when allergies are the cause of a postnasal drip.

Some people might require minor procedures or surgical intervention to manage their postnasal drip. This is beneficial particularly for those with a deviated septum as the cause of their postnasal drip cough.

Natural Remedies to Manage Postnasal Drip

Staying hydrated can help thin mucus and reduce the impact of post nasal drip cough.

A few simple natural remedies can help alleviate the discomfort that you might be experiencing due to a postnasal drip cough:

  • Identify your cough triggers – If spicy food is causing your cough, reducing or eliminating it from your diet could be a simple solution. Sometimes other conditions, such as stomach acid reflux, worsen the discomfort observed with postnasal drip, so you should consider having this treated as well.
  • Try staying away from your allergens – Tracking the seasons during which you note the persistent cough can help. Notice if you have any changes to your environment that aggravate your cough. Change bed sheets and towels regularly as these could contain dust mites, which could be worsening your cough.
  • Saline irrigation and nasal sprays – These are readily available over the counter. Their primary purpose is to rinse out the nasal cavities of the excessive mucus. This is especially useful when symptoms are related to exposure to allergens or pollutants, as it clears them out of your nose.
  • Sleeping with your head slightly elevated – Adding a pillow or two at night can assist with better drainage of the excessive mucus. This also reduces the likelihood of waking up from a postnasal drip cough at night.
  • Stay hydrated – Drinking plenty of water assists with keeping the nasal passages moistened and helps with thinning out the mucus. Additionally,  dehydration can cause general discomfort, so reducing it benefits you overall. Hot beverages such as chicken soup or tea can also soothe the throat, alleviating discomfort from a postnasal drip cough.
  • Invest in a humidifier – Sometimes, the air within our natural surroundings can be dry, adding to the discomfort experienced by our nasal passages. Humidifiers increase the moisture in the air, making it easier to breathe and reducing the likelihood of a nagging cough.

Conclusion

As soon as you observe a cough without any specific, known underlying symptoms or causes, it is a great idea to start tracking the cough and its possible contributors. Take note when the cough is most evident, be it at night or during the daytime. If you notice fever, wheezing, or bleeding through the nasal passages, consult with a doctor immediately.

Tracking signs and symptoms is a great way to analyze your cough and narrow down a possible solution. Hyfe helps with this by offering accessible and efficient cough monitoring and tracking. You can read more about how Hyfe’s innovative contribution to the field of respiratory health helps both health professionals and patients here: www.hyfe.ai

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