When to See a Doctor for Postnasal Drip

When to See a Doctor for Postnasal Drip

The irritation of respiratory infection or allergies sometimes overproduces mucus to lubricate the tissue of the nasal passages, draining down the back of your throat rather than out your nose. This is called postnasal drip. You may feel it trickling or you may reflexively swallow without noticing. 

As a symptom of cold, flu, or allergies, postnasal drip is usually a temporary condition that resolves itself as its cause clears up. In the meantime, it can give you a sore throat or make you feel an almost perpetual need to clear your throat. 

However, there are times when postnasal drip doesn’t clear on its own. Then it’s time to visit Alexis Furze, MD, FACS, in Newport Beach, California, for an exam and diagnosis. There are causes unrelated to allergy and infection that can also cause chronic drip problems. As a certified otolaryngologist, Dr. Furze has the expertise you need to quickly resolve your postnasal drip issues. 

Reasons for postnasal drip

Perhaps the most common cause of postnasal drip is allergies with respiratory effects. Your sensitivities send the immune system into overdrive, reacting to allergens in a way that’s out of proportion with the threat of the substance. Mucus overproduction is one result of this immune system response. 

When it comes to respiratory infections, mucus overproduction is a legitimate response to the bacteria or viruses causing the illness. Postnasal drip is similar. 

Chronic postnasal drip may result from the anatomy of your air passages and any irregularities due to genetics or injury. Issues like a deviated septum can interfere with normal airway drainage. Other causes of postnasal drip include getting older, pregnancy, or medications. Chronic acid reflux may cause symptoms that resemble postnasal drip. 

Self-care options

While postnasal drip and its effects can be bothersome, the condition is otherwise harmless. You can usually ease postnasal drip symptoms by boosting hydration. Drinking more water while limiting diuretics like caffeine and salty snacks can thin the consistency of mucus. 

Expectorants and decongestants 9medications to thin or dry up mucus) perform the same role. If your drip is caused by allergies, allergy medications may reduce your postnasal drip symptoms. 

Saline nasal sprays are another option to ease the irritation of postnasal drip by accelerating the drain rate of mucus. The same holds true for products and methods like neti pots and sinus rinses. Raising your head at night with pillows can minimize sleep interruptions caused by postnasal drip. 

When to see a doctor for postnasal drip

Visit us at our Newport Beach office when your postnasal drip symptoms last longer than about 10 days. When you're approaching two weeks without signs of improvement, it’s possible that you have a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics to treat. An exception might be when an allergy season is long or severe. 

When a deviated septum or other anatomical problem is the cause, surgery might be the answer to the cycle of chronic postnasal drip. Call Alexis Furze MD, FACS, to schedule your personal consultation. 

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