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Post-Nasal Drip

Mucus is usually swallowed unconsciously, but when there is a feeling of the mucus gathering in the throat or dripping from the back of your nose, it is called post-nasal drip.

Glands in your nose and throat continually produce mucus, usually one to two quarts per day. Mucus moistens and cleans the nasal lining, moistens air, traps and clears what is inhaled, and helps fight infection.

Contrary to popular belief, post-nasal drip is a symptom and not, in fact, a diagnosis. This can be due to excess mucus from an upper respiratory tract infection, allergic, or non-allergic rhinitis, from a sensation of mucus in the throat that is being incorrectly attributed to a nasal issue, or even hypersensitivity to normal mucus.

The key to proper treatment and relief is the correct diagnosis. The expertise of an ear, nose, and throat specialist may be required to identify the diagnosis and to recommend appropriate treatment.

Post Nasal Drip

Symptoms of Post-Nasal Drip

Symptoms of post-nasal drip can include:

  • Feeling of mucus drainage into the throat
  • Frequent swallowing
  • Throat clearing
  • Raspy or gurgling speech
  • Sore irritated throat
  • Feeling a lump in the throat

In children, thick or foul-smelling secretions from one side of the nose can mean that something is stuck in the nose such as a bean, wadded paper, or piece of a toy. If these symptoms are observed, seek a physician for examination.

Post-nasal drip often leads to a sore, irritated throat. Although there is usually no infection, the tonsils and other tissues in the throat may swell. This can cause discomfort or a feeling that there is a lump in the throat. Successful treatment of the post-nasal drip will usually clear up these throat symptoms.

© Benjamin Liess, MD, FACS