Post Nasal Discharge

What is post nasal discharge?

The glands in the nose and throat are continually producing mucosa, which serves to both, clean and moisten the nasal membranes, humidify air, trap inhaled foreign matter and fight infection. Under normal circumstances, this mucosa is swallowed unconsciously and without sensation, but when an individual begins to feel the mucosa accumulating in the throat or dripping from the back of the nose it is called post nasal drip or post nasal discharge (PND). This sensation can be caused by either excessively thick mucosa or by disorders of the throat.

How many types of post nasal discharge are there?

There are two types of secretions as a result of post nasal discharge:

Thin secretions:

An increase in thin, clear mucosa can be due to colds, flu or allergies, cold temperatures, spicy foods, pregnancy and other hormonal changes within the body. Additionally, certain medications and structural abnormalities of the sinuses and the nasal passages can also cause PND.

Thick secretions:

An increase in thick secretions in the winter months typically results from dry air in heated buildings, sinus or nasal infections, and allergies. Additionally, certain dairy products can cause PND. If the secretions are green or yellow it is likely that a bacterial sinus infection has developed.

Are there other issues associated with post nasal drip?

Swallowing disorders may also result in an accumulation of mucosa in the throat that may complicate problems such as PND. When the nerves of the muscles of throat and mouth do not function properly, mucosa can spill into the voice box (larynx) and breathing passages (trachea and bronchi) causing throat clearing, coughing and hoarseness. PND can also be the result of problems with the sinuses including bacterial or viral infections, deviated septum, nasal polyps and allergies.

Who is qualified to treat post nasal drip?

A specialized professional, preferably an otolaryngologist with extensive sinus experience, is necessary to evaluate and diagnose the causes of post nasal drip, which can lead to chronic or acute sinusitis. The sinus-specialty otolaryngologists of The Sinus Institute at CEI have over 35 years years of experience treating sinusitis in all of its forms using both medical treatments and cutting edge surgery options. Click here to make an appointment.