Symptoms of chronic post-nasal drip involve: swelled sinus cavities that make breathing difficult, accumulation of phlegm in the back of the throat, and a severe case of halitosis resistant to mouthwashes and breath sprays. In addition, individuals suffering post-nasal drip due to allergies and/or sinus infections may experience sore throats, nagging cough, feeling like there is a lump in the throat and intermittent nausea because of swallowed mucus lying in the stomach.
Although throat and nose glands naturally produce up to two quarts of lubricating mucus each day, viruses and bacteria inflaming these glands exacerbate secretion activity and cause the mucus to thicken. As a result, excess mucus creates symptoms associated with chronic head colds along with bad breath due to the proliferation of anaerobic bacteria in the mouth, on the tongue and in the throat.
Occasionally, people suffering from chronic sinusitis and continuous post-nasal drip may have polyps growing within the nose. An otolaryngologist should examine someone who constantly experiences symptoms of post-nasal drip with a fiber optic scope capable of peering deep into the nose. If medication fails to relieve symptoms, surgery is often recommended to avoid future, more serious problems.
Certain medical conditions may prevent individuals from swallowing properly, leading to the assumption that someone has post-nasal drip when, in fact, they are simply not swallowing hard enough to relieve the throat of normal mucus production. Referred to as dysphagia, difficulty with swallowing may arise from a variety of conditions, such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), diffuse spasms, food allergies or esophageal stricture. Any of these conditions are conducive to the proliferation of anaerobic bacteria.
Dr. Harold Katz describes Post-Nasal Drip
In this video, Dr. Harold Katz, founder of TheraBreath® describes post-nasal drip. Learn about the treatment options available for this condition.
What is Anaerobic Bacteria?
Being affected by chronic post-nasal drip means that the back of the throat is transformed into an environment ideal for anaerobic bacteria propagation; this is because the mucus settling there remains undisturbed for long periods. This stagnation allows bacteria to use it as a sort of shelter from the saliva and oxygen existing in the mouth. Anaerobic bacteria definitely prefer areas lacking in oxygen and the back of a throat, concealed with a constant layer of protein-rich mucus (which it feeds on), is a perfect place in which anaerobes rapidly reproduce. Unfortunately, the more anaerobic bacteria there are the worse a person's breath smells.
How Does Anaerobic Bacteria Cause Bad Breath?
During the breakdown and digestion of proteins based on two amino acids called methionine and cysteine, anaerobic bacteria begin transmitting the high sulfur content found in methionine and cysteine from the mucus in which they live into the environment surrounding them. These volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) are comprised primarily of methyl mercaptan and hydrogen sulfide, with additional waste products including:
- Skatole--a compound smelling like feces
- Cadaverine--a compound smelling like rotting flesh
- Isovaleric acid--a compounds smelling like sweaty feet infected with fungus
- Putrescine--a compound smelling like decayed meat
Swelled nasal passages often accompany chronic post-nasal drip which forces those affected to breathe through the mouth. This severely reduces the amount of saliva and causes a condition of dry mouth that further promotes the proliferation of anaerobic bacteria. Additionally, the tongue is coated with tiny "feelers" called papillae that also contain the taste buds. If the tongue is not brushed or rinsed well regularly with water or an antiseptic mouthwash, anaerobes nestle in between these papillae and feed on protein in the form of food particles and mucus. As a result, individuals with chronic post-nasal drip experience halitosis generated by back of the throat anaerobes and bacteria living on the tongue's surface.
Remedies for Bad Breath Caused By Chronic Post-Nasal Drip
While using a decongestant can reduce nasal passage swelling and improve the ability to inhale through the nose, these medications also tend to dry up mucous membranes and cause a dry mouth environment conducive to sulfur-producing anaerobic bacteria.
- One remedy that may help relieve post-nasal drip symptoms is performing saline rinse irrigation using a sinus irrigator. This method gently rinses nasal passages with a saline fluid that flushes away mucus and bacteria without irritating the sensitive tissues in the passages. It also decreases swelling and does not dry the mouth the way decongestants do.
- Drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeinated and/or sugary beverages can also help reduce the severity of bad breath caused by chronic post-nasal drip. In addition, a mucus-thinning medication called guaifenesin (trade name Robitussin) may diminish the presence of thick mucus lying in the throat and allow people suffering from post nasal drip to eliminate phlegm accumulation by swallowing or expectorating the mucus.
- Increasing air humidity in the home by using a humidifier or vaporizer may improve dryness in the mouth as well as sleeping on propped-up pillows to prevent mucus from gathering in the back of the throat.
- Brushing the teeth in the morning and evening and rinsing with an oxygenating mouthwash will also help alleviate bad breath caused by anaerobic bacteria.
- The most effective remedy for post-nasal drip is Dr. Katz's TheraBreath Tonsil Stones Kit, which contains TheraBreath's specially formulated Nasal Sinus Drops. These powerful drops reduce the symptoms of post nasal drip with oxygenating ingredients designed to directly target areas in which bacteria-rich mucus accumulate and putrefy.
In addition, the Tonsil Stones Kit provides AktivOxigen serum that coat the throat with a solution capable of oxygenating and clearing the tonsil and throat area of sulfurous anaerobic bacteria. Daily use of other dynamic TheraBreath formulas will also keep breath fresh and maintain optimal oral hygiene for healthy teeth and gums.
When to Call the Doctor
When chronic post-nasal drip produces foul-smelling, bloody nasal drainage and mucus that is accompanied by fever and wheezing lasting more than ten days, a bacterial infection may exist which needs professional attention. Generally, post-nasal drip produces symptoms that, although annoying, do not require the services of a physician. However, persistent bacterial infections involving the respiratory system can potentially develop into more serious conditions such as bronchial asthma, pneumonia or strep throat.