How to Treat Post-Nasal Drip At Home

Post-nasal drip occurs when your sinuses produce excess mucus discharge that runs down the back of your throat. Under normal circumstances, the glands in your nose and throat produce mucus in order to moisten your nasal membranes and fight off infection.

Post-nasal drip has many possible causes, such as the common cold, a sinus infection, or allergies. If you are experiencing symptoms regularly, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider in order to identify the cause of your symptoms and discuss post-nasal drip treatment.

Symptoms of Post-Nasal Drip

When too much mucus builds up, post-nasal drip occurs, causing the following symptoms:

  • A sensation of liquid dripping from the back of your nose and into your throat
  • Cough that tends to worsen at night and/or when you're lying down
  • Sore throat
  • Tickling, scratchy, or itchy sensation at the back of your throat
  • Hoarse voice

Home Remedies & Lifestyle

Here's a look at several all-natural remedies often used for mild cases of post-nasal drip. It should be noted that there is a lack of research on their effects, and none of these remedies should be used as a substitute for standard care.

Post-nasal drip remedies

Verywell / Jessica Olah

Keep Fluid Intake High

Thick mucus is more likely to be uncomfortable and disrupt your breathing. Thinning it out can help to reduce blockages, reducing your risk of sinus or ear infections. An easy method to thin your mucus is to drink an adequate amount of fluids each day.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that women take in about 9 cups of fluid per day, and that men drink about 12.5 cups. By checking the color of your urine, it's easy to tell whether you're adequately hydrated. Urine should be a pale yellow ("straw") color. Urine that is darker can be a sign of dehydration.

It is estimated that almost 33% of American adults are inadequately hydrated.

Avoid Cigarette Smoke

Chemicals in cigarettes can irritate your nasal passages and cause mucus to build up. This is the case whether you are a smoker yourself, or whether you are exposed to secondhand smoke. Not only is cigarette smoke an irritant, but it has been found to inhibit the natural process of clearing our airways.

Use Humidifiers

Using a cool mist humidifier can help to raise the moisture level in the air. Dry air can worsen postnasal drip symptoms. The mist from a humidifier helps to moisten the tissues inside your sinuses and help to thin your secretions.

Eat Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is an old home remedy for many kinds of respiratory issues. Researchers have shown that chicken soup may have some modest anti-inflammatory effects during colds, but they note that the real benefits of chicken soup may have more to do with the psychosocial support that we receive when someone lovingly makes soup for us.

Try a Hot Shower

Some people find that the steam of a hot shower helps to decongest their sinuses. The steam may also have the added benefit of moisturizing dry sinuses and airways.

Dust and Vacuum Regularly

This can help particularly if the cause of your post-nasal drip is allergies. Dusting and vacuuming regularly can help to manage allergies that are present year-round, like animal dander, dust mites, mold, and cockroaches.

OTC Treatment

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) remedies you can try to see whether they help with post-nasal drip. These are available without a prescription.

Medications

  • Antihistamines block the inflammation that happens in an allergic reaction. Examples include older antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and newer ones like Zyrtec (cetirizine) and Allegra (fexofenadine).
  • Decongestants help to constrict the blood vessels in the sinuses, leading to less swelling and stuffiness. Examples include medications like Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) and Sudafed PE (phenylephrine).
  • Glucocorticoid nasal spray medications like Flonase Allergy or Rhinocort help to lower inflammation in inflamed tissues.

Saline Nasal Mist

A saline nasal spray has the advantage of directly moisturizing your sinuses and helping to thin secretions in your sinuses. Using saline is better than water because saline is more like the natural fluids in your body. Saline nasal spray has no medication in it, just salt and water.

Neti Pot

Nasal irrigation (a procedure that involves using a sterile salt-water rinse to clear the nasal passages) may help reduce post-nasal drip in people with chronic sinusitis and allergies, particularly with higher volumes of saline, such as is found with syringes, squeeze bottles, and neti pots.

A neti pot is usually made of ceramic or plastic, and it resembles a flattened teapot. The sterile saline solution is placed inside the neti pot.

Tilting your head to the side, place your head low enough that your sinuses are lower than your throat. Put the spout of the neti pot into your nostril and begin to slowly pour the saline gently into one side of the nose, and it will flow out the other. You should not use tap water or any liquid that isn't sterile in your neti pot.

Salt Water Gargle

Gargling with warm salt water may help to clear mucus from the back of the throat and soothe a sore throat. Similar to using saline to wash our sinuses, gargling with salt water can help to moisturize our tissues with a liquid more like our body's natural saline.

Try stirring 1 teaspoon of salt into 8 fluid ounces (1 cup) of lukewarm water. The water does not need to be sterile for this purpose.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Home remedies may help provide some relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of post-nasal drip. While they may offer relief in mild cases, call your healthcare provider if:

  • You have trouble breathing because you're congested.
  • You have new symptoms, or your symptoms are worsening.
  • You have a fever, severe sinus pain, or other signs of an infection (such as yellow mucus).

While post-nasal drip is sometimes temporary, if you experience symptoms regularly, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does post-nasal drip last?

It depends on the cause. If the cause is a virus, it should resolve soon after symptoms, but some people with allergies have ongoing issues with post-nasal drip until their allergies are resolved.

What does post-nasal drip feel like?

Post-nasal drip can make you feel like you want to constantly clear your throat, give you a cough, or make your throat feel scratchy and irritated.

How do you stop post-nasal drip cough?

The best way to stop the cough is to stop the cause of the post-nasal drip. Remedies that thin the mucus, moisturize the airways, and relieve irritation in the throat can also help.

Why does post-nasal drip cause sore throat?

Frequent mucus drainage irritates the throat, as does repeatedly coughing and clearing the throat. The germs or allergens that trigger the post-nasal drip may also affect the throat directly.

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Article Sources
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