Post-nasal drip can be one of the most unpleasant symptoms of a cold or allergy. It occurs when excess mucus gathers at the back of the nose and throat, and it can contribute to a sore throat, cough, and bad breath. There are many home remedies that can relieve this problem, but if it persists, a visit to a medical professional may be in order. Post-nasal drip can be a symptom of a variety of conditions, so diagnosing the root cause is often essential to determining the proper treatment.
Most home remedies work by loosening, thinning, or drying up the mucus. Drinking a lot of fluids, particularly water, can help flush out the back of the throat. Hot herbal tea or soup adds the benefit of heat to help flush out the mucus. Nasal irrigation can also be helpful, whether with a nasal douche device, a neti pot, or a nasal spray. Use warm water with a bit of salt or baking soda to irrigate your sinuses or to gargle.
Another way to loosen excess mucus at home is to use a humidifier or a facial steamer, or boil a pot of water and breathe in the vapors. Decongestants can help dry out mucus in the back of the nose and throat, but do not use them for more than a few days. Avoid caffeine and other diuretics, alcohol, and creamy or spicy foods, as they can exacerbate the problem.
If post-nasal drip does not go away with home remedies, medical intervention may be necessary. A healthcare professional can perform tests to determine the cause, which may be allergy, bacterial infection, or gastroesophageal reflux. He or she may prescribe antihistamines or steroids for allergies, and chronic bacterial infection may require surgery in extreme cases. Gastroesophageal reflux is a digestive problem and is often treated with antacids and dietary changes.