What Is Post Nasal Drip?

Here’s a really gross fact for you: the glands in your nose and throat produce one to two quarts of mucus a day. In as little as two days, you can produce a gallon of snot.

Mucus is actually a good thing for your nose and throat. It helps keep things moist and clean up in your nose. Mucus can help humidify air and trap foreign matter. Mucus is actually a good infection fighter because it traps things that could cause you to get ill.

Usually, we swallow mucus without thinking about it. But the feeling of it collecting in your throat is called post-nasal drip. Post-nasal drip often leaves you with a sore, irritated throat — especially if you’re experiencing the drip overnight. When you sleep, you tend to swallow less. This gives mucus a chance to build up in your throat.

Post-nasal drip can be caused by several different things:

  1. Allergies. Treating your allergies with immunotherapy and medication can help eliminate the nightly post-nasal drip. Nasal sprays can help clear things out, too.
  2. Bacterial infection. If an infection is making you extra-snotty, antibiotics can help ease the problem. You may also need to take a decongestant to help clear things out.
  3. Gastroesophageal reflux. This is when your stomach contents (including acid) return to the throat, often while you sleep or lay down. GERD can be eased by raising the head of your bed six inches and avoiding food for a few hours before bedtime.

If post-nasal drip is bugging you, there are some things you can try before you see your doctor. Thinning your mucus may help it pass more easily down your throat while you sleep.

  1. Drink more water!
  2. Lessen or eliminate caffeine.
  3. Try a mucus thinning medicine that contains guaifenesin, like Robitussin.
  4. Try nasal irrigations or saline nasal sprays.