Is post nasal drip curable? Can you get antibiotics for it? And do sinus infections cause it?
The short answer is yes, post nasal drip is curable once one finds the cause. Post nasal drip is one of the more common symptoms people complain about to their Ear Nose and Throat doctor. Much of the time doctors consider this a diagnosis. It is not a diagnosis, but a symptom with many causes.
We make mucous in the nose and sinus cavities, about a quart a day. It serves as a lubricant, think motor oil, that traps particles in the nose- dust, virus, contaminants, bacteria- and is swept back by cilia into the back of the nose and then down the throat into the stomach. The stomach acid then destroys or inactivates these contaminants. The mucous is usually a thin lubricating layer.
However, sometimes we make the wrong consistency of mucous- think thick old motor oil- and there are multiple causes that should be able to be diagnosed by your ENT or sinus doctor.
One of the more common causes of post nasal drip is gastric reflux. If acid comes up as high as the nose or throat, the membranes make extra mucous, trying to delicate nasal lining tissues from the acid. Patients often feel the need to clear the throat with this.
A sinus infection can cause post nasal drip. In this case the examiner can see pus coming out of the sinus openings, being swept down the throat.
Allergies can cause post nasal drip by making “the wrong kind of mucous”. Typically with allergic nasal conditions one may make excess watery- or at other times overly thick- mucous that one feels in the throat.
Mucous can become thick from drying and cause a post nasal drip. This can occur with dry air- such as heated air in cold weather or often from drying medication such as a diuretic (water pill).
Any individual can have one or more of these problems simultaneously. Appropriate treatment, when aimed at the cause or causes, should be able to help alleviate your post nasal drip.
Robert Pincus MD
NY Sinus Center