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This feeling can be caused by excessive or thick secretions or by throat muscle and swallowing disorders. Increased thick secretions in the winter often result from too little moisture in heated buildings and homes. Chronic sinusitis occurs when sinus blockages persist and the lining of the sinuses swell further. Vasomotor rhinitis describes a nonallergic "hyperirritable nose" that feels congested, blocked, or wet.
Swallowing problems may result in accumulation of solids or liquids in the throat that may complicate or feel like post-nasal drip. When nervous or under stress, throat muscles can trigger spasms that feel like a lump in the throat. A correct diagnosis requires a detailed ear, nose, and throat exam and possible laboratory, endoscopic, and x-ray studies. Gastroesophageal reflux is treated by elevating the head of the bed six to eight inches, avoiding foods and beverages for two to three hours before bedtime, and eliminating alcohol and caffeine from the daily diet. General measures for thinning secretions so they can pass more easily may be recommended when it is not possible to determine whether an existing structural abnormality is causing the post-nasal drip or if some other condition is to blame. It moistens and cleans the nasal membranes, humidifies air, traps and clears inhaled foreign matter, and fights infection. Various drugs (including birth control pills and high blood pressure medications) and structural abnormalities can also produce increased secretions.
They can also result from sinus or nose infections and some allergies, especially to certain foods such as dairy products. When the nerve and muscle interaction in the mouth, throat, and food passage (esophagus) aren't working properly, overflow secretions can spill into the voice box (larynx) and breathing passages (trachea and bronchi) causing hoarseness, throat clearing, or cough. Frequent throat clearing, which usually produces little or no mucus, can make the problem worse by increasing irritation.
Although there is usually no infection, the tonsils and other tissues in the throat may swell. Antihistamines and decongestants, cromolyn and steroid (cortisone type) nasal sprays, and other forms of steroids may offer relief.
These can be performed two to four times a day either with a nasal douche device or a Water Pik® with a nasal irrigation nozzle.
Although mucus normally is swallowed unconsciously, the feeling that it is accumulating in the throat or dripping from the back of your nose is called post-nasal drip. These abnormalities might include a deviated or irregular nasal septum (the cartilage and bony dividing wall that separates the two nostrils). If thin secretions become thick and green or yellow, it is likely that a bacterial sinus infection is developing. Blockages in the openings from swelling due to colds, flu, or allergies may lead to acute sinus infection.
A trial treatment may be suggested before x-rays and other diagnostic studies are performed. Mucous-thinning agents such as guaifenesin (Humibid®, Robitussin®) may also thin secretions.
In children, thick secretions from one side of the nose can mean that something is stuck in the nose (such as a bean, wadded paper, or piece of toy, etc.). A viral "cold" that persists for 10 days or more may have become a bacterial sinus infection.
Evaluation by an otolaryngologist may include an exam of the interior of the nose with a fiberoptic scope and CAT scan x-rays. However, some older, sedating antihistamines may dry and thicken post-nasal secretions even more; newer nonsedating antihistamines, available by prescription only, do not have this effect.
Hiatal hernia, a pouch-like tissue mass where the esophagus meets the stomach, often contributes to the reflux. If you suspect that you have a sinus infection, you should see your physician for antibiotic treatment. Because significant side-effects can occur, steroids must be monitored carefully when used for more than one week.



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