​Post Nasal Drip ​

Linings of your nose, throat and airways produce mucus every day to keep these areas moist and trap any dust and foreign material before they can get into the body. However, when excess mucus is produced by the body and when this mucus becomes thick and often coloured (yellow or green), it becomes more noticeable. Sometimes, the mucus runs down the back of the throat, causing postnasal drip.

Postnasal drip occurs due to excess mucus production and hence is a symptom of other nasal disorders, such as the common cold, allergic rhinitis, sinusitis or a deviated nasal septum. It is also triggered in changing weather conditions, or when eating certain kinds of food, such as spicy food. Irritants in the air can also lead to excess mucus production and postnasal drip.

The problem of post-nasal drip is aggravated while sleeping as mucus secretions may gather, requiring vigorous coughing and throat clearing to clear the mucus from the throat. Sometimes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) disease and age-related swallowing problems can also lead to symptoms that feel like postnasal drip. ​​

The most obvious and common symptom of postnasal drip is the sensation of dripping down the throat. Other accompanying signs and symptoms include:

  • Coughing 

  • Sore throat

  • Hoarseness

  • Runny nose

  • Bad breath 

  • Continuous swallowing

  • Problems in breathing

  • Vomiting

  • Chest pain

If left unchecked, postnasal drip can lead to ear infections or sinus infections. That’s why it’s important to start treatment of post-nasal drip to avoid it from advancing further.​

Postnasal drip can irritate the throat and the mucus may contain inflammatory substances, leading to chronic cough. If you are facing persistent cough without any signs of improvement, you must seek advice from an ENT (Eye-Nose-Throat) specialist working for the Eye and ENT Service Line of The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Other serious symptoms which make it necessary to visit your doctor include bloody mucus, difficulty breathing, fever and chest pains. If you feel that your symptoms aren't showing improvement, it is also important to see a doctor. At The Aga Khan University Hospital the only internationally accredited hospital of Pakistan, you can discuss your symptoms in a safe and secure environment with your doctor, who will prescribe the treatment plan best suited to you.​

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Your doctor will ask questions about your medical history and conduct a physical examination to find out the cause of the postnasal drip. The physical examination will include looking for obvious signs, such as runny nose, checking for signs of nasal congestion, assessing your breathing and a chest examination, especially if cough is one of the symptoms you have been experiencing.

In some cases, X-rays of the sinuses may be requested, as well as other tests, such as the blood test to make a correct diagnosis. You must follow the instructions of your doctor for tests and examinations so that the cause of your postnasal drip can be accurately diagnose.​

Depending on the diagnosis made, your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan for you. If the cause of post nasal drip is a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed over a course of days to cure you off the infection. You must ensure that you complete the entire course of oral antibiotics, even after symptoms improve, to prevent bacteria from developing resistance to the antibiotic medication. It is important to understand that thick, coloured mucus is not always a sign of a bacterial infection as it could be caused by a viral infection too.

You could also be prescribed the following:

  • Antihistamine medication in case of allergic causes of postnasal drip

  • Decongestant nasal sprays

  • Steroid medications or nasal sprays

  • Saline nasal spray to thin the mucus

You can also take a few at-home measures to thin your mucus and prevent postnasal drip. Drinking a lot of water allows thinning of the mucus, as does using a humidifier at home to keep the surrounding air moist. You can also prop up pillows while sleeping to avoid mucus collection at the back of the throat and avoid irritants in the air which could lead to allergies, such as by dusting, cleaning and vacuuming regularly.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

 The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

 The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage​


​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.