Post-Nasal Drip Symptoms, Causes & Treatment in Denver
Post-nasal drip, or drainage of excess mucus down your throat, isn’t just uncomfortable — left untreated, it can lead to more serious issues, including a sore throat, chronic cough, or nausea. Our experienced team at Advanced ENT & Allergy Center will build a treatment plan that works for you, giving you lasting relief from the symptoms of post-nasal drip.
What is Post-Nasal Drip?
Post-nasal drip — also known as nasal drainage — occurs when mucus secretions drain down your throat. Often, these secretions are thicker than normal, causing you to consciously think about the excess mucus draining down your throat.
If you’re experiencing post-nasal drip, you might feel like you have a tickle in the back of your throat, accompanied by coughing and nasal congestion.
Is Post-Nasal Drip Contagious?
On its own, post-nasal drip isn’t contagious. However, if your nasal drainage is being caused by a bacterial infection or a virus, the symptom could spread to people you’ve come into contact with.
What Causes Post-Nasal Drip?
There are many possible triggers for post-nasal drip. Often, post-nasal drip is caused by allergies, including seasonal allergies (also known as allergic rhinitis).
When you come into contact with an allergen — for example, tree pollen, pet dander, or dust mites — your body releases a chemical called histamine. As your body attempts to get rid of the unwanted allergen, you’ll experience a handful of symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, and post-nasal drip.
Let’s take a look at some other reasons for post-nasal drip:
- Cold or flu
- Sinus infections or sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses)
- Structural problems with the nose (for example, a deviated septum)
- Certain medications, including birth control pills or blood pressure medications
- Certain foods
- Harmful fumes (often from perfumes, cleaning products, smoke, or smog)
Symptoms of Post-Nasal Drip
Though coughing and congestion are the two main symptoms of post-nasal drip, they aren’t the only ones to be aware of. Other common symptoms include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Frequent throat clearing
- An itchy or sore throat
- Feeling a tickle in your throat
- Excess mucus or blood in your mucus
- Nasal congestion or a swollen nasal lining
- Upset stomach
- Trouble breathing
- Swollen glands
- Facial pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
Occasionally, symptoms that are similar to post-nasal drip can be triggered by a different condition, like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Our specialists at Advanced ENT will uncover the root cause of your post-nasal drip, then work with you to find a convenient and effective treatment plan.
How to Diagnose Post-Nasal Drip
To figure out what’s causing your post-nasal drip, your provider will need to walk you through a series of questions and tests.
First, they’ll ask about your symptoms. If what you’ve been experiencing is consistent with a bacterial infection or a virus, they’ll prescribe medicine to help your body fight the infection.
If your doctor rules out an infection, they’ll look for other causes. Allergy testing will reveal what types of allergies — if any — are giving rise to your nasal drainage.
Finally, an ENT specialist can examine your nose and sinus passageways, looking for structural issues. Once your doctor has discovered the reason for your symptoms, they’ll be able to recommend the right treatment plan for you.
Post-Nasal Drip Treatment
If you’re ready to find relief from your post-nasal drip, our experts are here to help. Usually, our doctors recommend a combination of treatments to ensure that your condition clears up all the way.
Generally, solutions for post-nasal drip fall into one of four categories: home remedies, medications, allergy immunotherapy, or a surgical procedure.
If your nasal congestion is relatively mild, a simple home remedy might be all you need. Give these solutions a try:
- Drink warm fluids. Fluids thin out mucus and moisturize your nasal lining, helping to drain your nasal passages.
- Gargle saltwater. Add salt to warm water, then gargle it at the back of your throat. Saltwater can thin mucus and relieve inflammation in your nasal cavity.
- Take a hot shower or bath. Inhaling steam is another great way to loosen up the mucus in your throat.
- Try a humidifier. Whether you’re experiencing nasal drainage, coughing, or a sore throat, increasing the amount of moisture in the air can help relieve your symptoms.
- Rinse out your sinuses. As a final line of defense, try out steroid nasal sprays or a Neti pot. Always use clean water — not tap water — during nasal irrigation, to make sure that you’re not introducing harmful germs into your nasal passages.
In addition to home remedies, medicines (both over-the-counter and prescription) can be useful for alleviating the discomfort of post-nasal drip. Here are some treatments to consider, depending on the cause of your symptoms.
If your nasal congestion is the result of a cold, antibiotics or antiviral medicines could be the key to resolving your symptoms. Sometimes, you’ll simply have to wait for the cold to run its course — after it clears up, your post-nasal drip should resolve on its own.
More commonly, post-nasal drip is treated with antihistamines or decongestants. Because these medicines vary in effectiveness and often come with side effects, it’s best to consult an ENT expert before taking them.
Popular antihistamines include:
- Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert)
- Fexofenadine (Allegra)
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- Levocetirizine (Xyzal)
- Desloratadine (Clarinex)
If allergies are behind your symptoms, there are two paths you can take for immunotherapy: allergy shots or allergy drops.
Both treatments work by gradually introducing your body to specific allergens, allowing you to slowly build up a tolerance for the allergen. In most cases, we encourage patients to opt for allergy drops, because they’re far more convenient than allergy shots and equally effective.
If home remedies, medicines, and allergy immunotherapy fail to give you relief, it might be time to consider a surgical procedure. Even if your symptoms are stubborn, our team specializes in several procedures that can resolve post-nasal drip:
- Endoscopic sinus surgery: A simple surgery that enlarges the sinus openings.
- Turbinate reduction: A surgical procedure that removes excess bone and soft tissue on the inside of the nose, improving airflow.
- Septoplasty surgery: A surgery that corrects a deviated septum, increasing airflow through the nose.
- Balloon sinuplasty: An in-office procedure that uses a tiny balloon to open blocked sinus ducts.
When to Call a Doctor
Sometimes, the symptoms that accompany post-nasal drip can’t be treated from home. Get in touch with an ENT specialist if:
- Your symptoms have lasted longer than 10 days.
- Your nasal drainage is accompanied by a high fever.
- Your nasal discharge is yellow, green, or bloody.
- You’re experiencing severe sinus pain.
- You have clear discharge after sustaining a head injury.
How Can I Prevent Post-Nasal Drip?
What’s better than alleviating your symptoms? Keeping them from happening in the first place! Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Stay hydrated. Regular intake of fluids helps to thin mucus.
- Use a humidifier. Extra moisture in your bedroom, bathroom, or office can facilitate breathing and diminish nasal congestion.
- Prop yourself up while you sleep. Placing extra pillows under your head allows mucus to drain instead of collecting in the back of your throat.
- Avoid spicy foods and carbonated beverages.
- Stay away from airborne irritants. Perfumes, smoke, dust, and cleaning chemicals frequently trigger post-nasal drip.
Why Choose Advanced ENT and Allergy Center?
At Advanced ENT, we’re committed to providing medical care of the highest quality. Our team specializes in sinus issues, allergies, and ear, nose, and throat care. We provide expertise and empathy during our conversations, building a treatment plan that meets your needs.
We know that doctor’s appointments can be a source of stress and anxiety for our patients. That’s why we do everything in our power to make you feel comfortable. At Advanced ENT, we promise to:
- Treat you with care and respect.
- Take time to find a solution that works for you.
- Answer all of your questions completely.
- Help you find the right treatment for your insurance plan.
We offer in-office, online, and at-home appointments. If you’re ready to get relief from your post-nasal drip, contact us today.
Serving Patients in Denver & Beyond
Though our main office is in Denver, Colorado, we work with patients from all over the state.
Whether you’re in Denver, Greenwood Village, or somewhere else in colorful Colorado, we’ve got a treatment plan that will help you find relief. Give us a call at (303) 792-3242 or visit our office:
6110 Greenwood Plaza Blvd.,
Greenwood Village CO 80111
Monday-Thursday: 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
From I-25, take the exit for Orchard Rd. After turning onto Greenwood Plaza Blvd., we’ll be right beside the street. Patient parking is available just outside of our building — and there are plenty of dining options in the area!
Thankfully, you don’t have to manage post-nasal drip symptoms alone. Our doctors have over 25 years of experience treating nasal, sinus, and allergy issues — and we’re ready to put that expertise to work for you. Our specialists will create a custom treatment plan that fits your lifestyle and goals, allowing you to breathe easily as you dive into your next Colorado adventure.
If you want to find long-term relief from your symptoms, get in touch with the Advanced ENT & Allergy Center today.