Post-Nasal Drip and Your Asthma

Clearing up post-nasal drip can help you feel better

Is post-nasal drip contributing to your poor asthma control? If you think it may be, learn to identify the cause and check out these tips on how to get your drip under control.

Close-up of woman holding her throat
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Post-nasal drip is a condition that occurs when your nose produces too much mucus. When this excess mucus comes out of the front of your nose, a simple runny nose occurs. Post-nasal drip happens when the excess mucus your nose and other glands produce runs from your nose down the back of your throat. This process occurs naturally, but when you are producing more mucus than usual or your mucus is exceptionally thick, you can experience the uncomfortable sensation of post-nasal drip.


The biggest symptom of post-nasal drip is prolonged discomfort. As fluid builds up in the back of your throat, you may feel like you constantly need to swallow, or that there is an itch in your throat that you can’t scratch. This irritation can lead to coughing and wheezing as well, and post-nasal drip is actually one of the most common causes of chronic cough. Coughing can lead to additional soreness and irritation. That’s why answering “what is nasal drip” can be so difficult: the symptoms so commonly lead to other symptoms, and cause other problems along the way.


Since post-nasal drip is the result of your body producing too much mucus, there are many possible causes. Both the flu and the common cold can lead to post-nasal drip. Environmental factors like allergies, certain foods, and certain weather conditions can also make post-nasal drip more common. Certain medications can lead to post-nasal drip, as can both a deviated septum and general sinus infection or inflammation.

Another common cause of postnasal drip is laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) or silent reflux. It is called silent reflux because it is not associated with heartburn and is very different from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Rather than an excess production of mucus, silent reflux or LPR increases the sensitivity of the back of of the throat to mucus. Laryngopharyngeal reflux is characterized by throat clearing, postnasal drip, and occasionally a night time cough.

The treatment of laryngopharyngeal reflux is very different from the treatment of other causes of postnasal drip. If postnasal drip does not improve with methods aimed at decreasing mucus production, see an ear, nose and throat doctor for proper evaluation.


Doctor recommended treatments of post-nasal drip depend on the cause of mucus build up. If a bacterial infection is to blame, basic antibiotics may be prescribed. Antihistamines and decongestants can help relieve mucus build-up when an infection is viral, and several mucus-thinning medications exist to help with the issue as well. However, in addition to these conventional and doctor-prescribed or recommended over the counter treatments, there are a number of home treatments you can try as well to relieve the symptoms and fight the causes of post-nasal drip.

Each of the home treatments that follow is aimed at reducing the symptoms of post-nasal drip and helping fight some of the more common causes. Try each of these home treatments, or try them all together to find relief that works for you. If your symptoms get worse and post-nasal drip becomes a big hindrance in your life, consider visiting a doctor and seeking a prescription treatment. Here are some home remedies that you can try first, or in addition to a prescribed treatment. 

Nasal Irrigation: Nasal irrigation involves introducing a saline solution into the sinuses and nasal canal, either with a nasal spray or a neti pot. Neti pots are a popular and proven option that can help you clear out a lot of mucus quickly. Using a neti pot may not clear post-nasal drip out of your throat immediately, but will get rid of a lot of the mucus that builds up in the nose and sinuses and ends up causing nasal drip down the road. Be careful not to overuse oxymetazoline (a component of the Afrin nasal spray) as there have been cases of reported addiction and rebound congestion.

Using a Vaporizer or HumidifierMany people find that the irritation caused by post-nasal drip gets exacerbated by dry air, which can lead to coughing and throat irritation of its own. By using a humidifier in your home, you can protect your throat from additional dry air provoked irritation. Plus, many of the causes of post-nasal drip like allergies get mitigated in a major way by a good in-home humidifier. However, the moist air can cause additional mucus issues in some people, so make sure to pay attention to the effects on you.

Propping Head Up With a Pillow: Many people notice that post- nasal drip is the worst in the morning or late at night, and this can be caused by mucus pooling up in the back of your throat while you sleep. To stop mucus from pooling, try propping up your head at a more aggressive angle when you sleep. If you are able to prop your head at a steeper angle, mucus won’t be able to pool up as easily, and you should notice a marked decrease in occurrences of post-nasal drip in the early morning or throughout the night. 

Alleviating Allergies: One of the most common causes of post-nasal drip is airborne allergens, and by fighting some of the most common in-home airborne allergens you can fight post-nasal drip indirectly. Make sure to vacuum your home thoroughly, and keep all of your bedding clean. You may consider protecting your mattress with a dust mite proof cover as well, to stop dust from building up in your bedding and leading to post-nasal drip.   

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