Post nasal drip is one of the most common complaints in an ENT practice. It is due to an excessive amount of mucus flowing from the nasal cavities into the pharynx. Mucus is a natural substance that is produced in the nose and sinuses and serves as a lubricant to prevent drying out of the mucosal lining of the nose and throat. Normally mucus is produced as a thin layer that is carried from the nose to the back of the throat by fingerlike projections on the cells of the mucus membrane called cilia. Usually you are not aware of this process unless the mucus stops flowing or begins to flow excessively.
There are many causes of a post nasal drip. It will occur due to a common cold, sinus infection, allergy or exposure to irritants. Certain foods especially dairy products can produce an excessive amount of mucus. Treatment will depend upon the cause.
In the allergic patient, OTC antihistamines are helpful. There are also several types of prescription nasal sprays that are effective in controlling allergic symptoms including PND. Antihistamines should be avoided in the presence of infections because they frequently cause the secretions to become thicker inhibiting sinus drainage.
Symptomatic relief from PND can usually be achieved using medications that contain guaifenesin such as Mucinex. Increasing fluid intake is also helpful in thinning out the mucus flow.