Treatment for Allergies & Postnasal Drip
The nose and throat glands produce mucus regularly in order to moisten and clean the nose, humidify air, trap foreign matter and fight infection. Normally, the mucus produced is swallowed unconsciously. However, if allergies cause excess mucus production, thin the mucus or cause thicker than normal secretions, you may feel this excess or thick mucus collecting in the back of your throat. This feeling of excess mucus is called postnasal drip.
When such a substance to which your body has a natural aversion enters the body, the immune system responds to fight it off, causing the allergic reaction. In fighting off the allergy, the body may produce thick mucus, or excess mucus. It may also thin the mucus. Each of these effects leads to postnasal drip.
Diagnosis of Postnasal Drip
Postnasal drip is characterized by feelings of soreness and irritation in the throat that are not attributable to an infection. The tissues in the throat and the tonsils may swell, and you may feel as though there is a lump in your throat.
Treatment of Allergies
Generally, postnasal drip is treated by managing the allergies that cause it. There are a number of different methods. Ideally, you can identify and avoid the cause of the allergy, something an allergy test may help you to do. A doctor may also prescribe an antihistamine or decongestant to treat allergy symptoms, including abnormal mucus that causes postnasal drip. Other treatments include cortisones (cromolyns and steroids), nasal sprays, immunotherapy (shots or drops administered under the tongue) and other steroids.
General Treatment of Postnasal Drip
If treatment of allergies or avoidance of allergy-causing agents is not possible, general treatments can help mucus to be swallowed more easily to reduce discomfort associated with postnasal drip. Drinking additional water, and avoiding caffeine and diuretics can ease the discomfort and help mucus to pass more easily. Medications, including Robitussin, can also thin mucus to help it to pass without irritation, while nasal irrigations (performed with nasal douches or Water Piks) can help with thick secretions. Finally, nasal sprays can also help.
Some antihistamines can cause mucus to thicken even more, and worsen the effect of postnasal drip. If this occurs, a prescription of non-sedating antihistamine may be necessary. High blood pressure can be aggravated by decongestants. Finally, steroid treatments may produce complications if used for extended periods of time, and patients receiving steroid treatments should be monitored.