'Tis the season for postnasal drip
As gross as it sounds, postnasal drip tends to crop up during the holiday season. When people get sick, mucus accumulates in the nasal cavity, which can make its way down the back of the throat. Postnasal drip is a partner in crime with bad breath, and no one wants raunchy exhalations while catching up with loved ones over the holidays.
Normally, mucus mixes with saliva and drips in small, unnoticeable and harmless amounts down the back of your throat. In fact, glands in the lining of your nose, throat, airways and intestinal tract produce about 1 to 2 quarts of mucus a day to moisten these areas and trap foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses before they can cause infection. However, when your body produces too much mucus or it's not cleared away effectively - like when you have a cold - it may run down the back of the nose to your throat in a condition called postnasal drip.
Chances are you've had a runny nose during cold and flu season. Think of postnasal drip as a reverse runny nose; post (meaning behind) nasal (the nose) drip (leaking).The condition creates an irksome feeling that makes you want to incessantly clear your throat.
Causes of postnasal drip
While colds and the flu are the most common symptoms - especially during the winter - there are other triggers as well.
- Sinus infections
- Bacterial infections
- Allergies (called allergic postnasal drip)
- Certain medications (such as birth control pills and blood pressure medications)
- Cold temperatures, changing weather or low humidity
- Spicy foods
- Fumes from cleaning products, chemicals, perfumes and smoke
Postnasal drip and bad breath
The back of your tongue is home to the anaerobic bacteria that results in bad breath. When you get postnasal drip, that halitosis-causing bacteria becomes bathed in mucus secretions. The anaerobic bacteria feeds on protein in the mucus, creating strong odors.
Getting rid of postnasal drip and bad breath
Fortunately, there are ways you can take action against the reverse runny nose. Here are a few:
1. Medication: Many people use medication to dry up sinuses and prevent mucus buildup. However, be careful to steer clear of dry mouth, a common side effect of antihistamines. A lack of saliva creates a habitable environment for anaerobic bacteria, so talk to your doctor to ensure you're getting the best treatment.
2. TheraBreath Nasal Sinus Drops: By eliminating the production of sulfuric compounds created by the reaction of mucus and anaerobic bacteria, TheraBreath Nasal Sinus Drops allow people to finally experience fresh breath and taste foods again.
3. The Hydropulse®: This nasal-sinus irrigator, designed by an ear nose and throat specialist, is used to flush the sinuses.
4. Drink lots of fluids and rest: Help your body recover from a cold by drinking water throughout the day. This will help wash down the mucus and clear out bad breath. Don't skimp on a good night's rest either.
5. Humidify the air in your home using a humidifier. This adds moisture to the air and helps prevent postnasal drip.