Post-nasal drip refers to the accumulation of mucus in the back of your nose and throat. The mucus begins to ‘drip’ down the throat, causing your throat to become irritated, which in turn makes you cough. However, with effective home remedies, lifestyle changes, and medication, you can get rid of this annoying condition.
Home Remedies for Post-Nasal Drip
1. Salt Water
Mix a tablespoon of regular salt in a glass or warm water. Take some of the mixture into your mouth and swish it around or gargle it so that it reaches the back of your throat. Spit it out and repeat with the rest of the salt water mixture. The salt water will help dislodge mucus from the back of your throat.
- Do this once in the morning and once at night.
- To help cut the mucus even more, add the juice of 1/2 lemon to the salt water and gargle.
2. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil has long been used as an herbal mucus relief product. The most effective way to use eucalyptus oil is to line the upper chest area with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and then rub in a few drops of the eucalyptus oil. This might make you cough a little more than expected, at first, but after a while it should help loosen mucus from your throat.
- Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your vaporizer for another effective treatment option.
- Do not take eucalyptus oil orally.
Inhaling steam can help soften dried mucus and throat linings. It also acts as a natural decongestant that widens your nasal passageways, making it easier for you to get rid of post-nasal drip.
Steam can also help to loosen secretions in your throat, which reduces the likelihood that you will cough. In order to create a steam inhaler at home, try the following.
- Boil water. Place the boiled water in a large bowl. Cover your head with a towel and put your head over the bowl of hot water. Make sure that the towel covers your whole head and the bowl. The towel keeps the steam from escaping and dispersing. Inhale the steam until the water cools down.
- You can also take a hot shower. Keep all of the windows and doors closed so that it becomes super steamy in your bathroom.
4. Echinacea Tea
Echinacea contains alkylamides, which are known to reduce the duration of colds and other respiratory infections. Echinacea also prevents your nasal and throat passageways from drying out, which means that they are less likely to become irritated.
- You can increase your intake of echinacea by drinking echinacea tea, taking supplements (in tablet form) or using echinacea tinctures.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce swelling in your throat that is caused by mucus irritation.
- Drink ginger tea, take ginger supplements, or add more raw ginger to your meals.
Garlic contains allicin, which helps combat colds and other respiratory issues. If your cough is caused by a cold, garlic is a good natural way to fight the cold because it can help kill the virus causing the irritation in your throat.
- Eat 2-4 raw garlic cloves a day. You can also take garlic supplements, or add more garlic to your meals.
Lifestyle Changes for Post-Nasal Drip
1. Drink Plenty of Liquids
Drinking plenty of liquids can help loosen the mucus from the lining of the throat as the liquids pass down the esophagus. Try the following for mucus relief:
- Warm soup. Chicken soup is a favorite because the broth is light and cuts the mucus. Stick with lighter broths instead of thicker, creamier soups.
- Warm tea with lemon and honey. This should be one of your mainstays. The acidity of the lemon is good at breaking up the mucus while the honey coats the throat with a pleasant protective layer afterward.
- Cool water. Listen to your thirst and drink as much water as you need to stay satiated.
2. Blow Your Nose Frequently
Blowing the nose can remove irritants, which causes a buildup of mucus. For mucus that can’t be cleared after blowing the nose, some people prefer snorting and spitting the excess mucus from the back of the throat, avoiding bad breath and dry mouth.
3. Clean Your House
If allergens are haunting your sinuses, the only home treatment you may need is a treatment of your home. You should thoroughly clean your house and room to remove any allergens that could be causing your cough. Try the following suggestions to remove dust, pollen, and dander from your residence before they come back to bite you — in the nose.
- Open your windows in the morning to let some fresh air into your house, but close them halfway through the day so that you can keep allergens out.
- Wash your clothes, sheets, pillowcases, and mattresses in hot water regularly. Hot water will kill any bacteria that may be causing your symptoms.
- Vacuum carpets and rugs once or twice a week.
- Clean your house at least once or twice a week.
- Use HEPA air filters in your home. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air, and is an industry standard tested by the government.
- Vacuum regularly with true or absolute HEPA filters. Vacuuming with HEPA filters ensures that any allergens are picked up during the vacuuming process.
- Bathe your pet every other day. Pets, especially those who are furry, can accumulate dust that can contribute to your allergies.
4. Elevate Your Head
When you sleep, mucus has a tendency to accumulate in the back of your throat, which can lead to a cough. When you elevate your head by propping it up with a pillow, the mucus drains out of your throat more easily.
- Try to prop your head and shoulders up so that you are in an almost-sitting position. While this might not be the most comfortable way to sleep, it will help you to get rid of your cough.
5. Quit Smoking
Cigarette smoke contains certain chemicals, like nicotine, that irritate the mucous membrane in your nose and throat. When the membrane becomes irritated, it produces more mucus, which in turn can cause a cough. To stop or avoid a chronic cough, quit smoking.
- You should also try to avoid secondhand smoke, as it can have the same effect on your mucous membrane.
Medical Treatments for Post-Nasal Drip
- Antihistamine sprays can effectively treat allergic rhinitis causes of post-nasal drip but are not effective for non-allergic causes.
- Corticosteroid sprays treat the inflammation that occurs with non-allergic rhinitis.
- Anticholinergic or anti-drip sprays are medications used in asthma inhalers, which can help treat post-nasal drip as well.
Rinse the nasal cavity to remove mucus causing irritants. Over the counter saline kits and nasal sprays are available to rinse the nasal cavity. The saline solution flushes the irritants from the nasal cavity, thins the mucus and relieves the membranes in the nose.
- Try using a Neti pot to clear out the mucus in the sinus and the back of the throat. Be aware, however, that by using a sinus irrigation device you could be removing natural antimicrobial agents that get rid of enemy bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Take mucus-thinning medications. Mucus-thinning medications are also known as expectorant medications. This sort of medication causes the mucus to become thin and move up from your throat and into your mouth. It increases the amount of mucus you have, but thins it out so that your body — in particular the ciliated hairs in your throat — have an easier time getting out of your throat. When the mucus is removed, your cough will stop.
- Guaifenesin, which also referred to as glyceryl guaiacolate, is one of the most common mucus-thinning medications available.
Use over-the-counter decongestants to relieve the symptoms of excess mucus buildup and post-nasal drip. Oral decongestants narrow the blood vessels to reduce the amount of congestion in the nasal cavity. Decongestants are also available in a nasal spray.
- If symptoms don’t get better after three days, discontinue use of decongestants. Use of decongestants after three days may be more harmful than helpful.
Try ‘new generation’ antihistamines. New generation antihistamines have less side effects than the older antihistamines listed in the previous step. However, some people have found that they are less effective—it all depends on your own personal allergies. Try them out and see if they work for you.
- Desloratadine: This antihistamine comes in both tablet and syrup form. It is non-drowsy so you can take it and still function. It is non-drowsy because it does not delve deeply into your body and affect your central nervous system, as older generation antihistamines do.
- Fexofenadine: This antihistamine also remains outside the central nervous system. It comes in tablet form.
- Always talk to a doctor before starting to take supplements or making big changes to your diet or lifestyle.
- Decongestants can cause high blood pressure, heart palpitations, insomnia, loss of appetite and anxiety. Decongestant nasal sprays should not be used longer than three or four days to relieve post-nasal drip. The medication may cause congestion to return with increased symptoms when stopped.
- Steroid medications can cause serious side effects if used long term. A physician must monitor the use of these medications.