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Mucus helps protect surfaces from a large number of potential pathogens, and is constantly produced within the body. Excessive mucus can be irritating to the person suffering from it and the cause is either infectious or allergic in nature.

A constant feeling of wanting to clear your throat along with an increased amount of mucus in the throat on lying down is indicative of a post nasal drip. There can be many causes for the development of a post nasal drip.

Potential causes

  • Sinusitis: Our sinuses are lined by a mucus producing membrane which becomes overactive when these sinuses are inflamed. This can lead to a change in the tone of the voice, a feeling of heaviness in the head as well as a post nasal drip.
  • Infection: An infection in the ear, nose and throat will lead to the production of purulent pus in the region and a subsequent post nasal drip. The mucus is usually greenish or brownish in color and thicker in consistency than seen in allergies. The accompanying symptoms of the infection - like a fever, body aches, etc - will also be present.
  • Allergies: People suffer from an increasing number of allergies to the pollutants in the air every year. Any one of these substances that are present in our environment now can trigger an allergic reaction, leading to the over production of mucus.
  • Blockages: An incomplete clearance of the mucus produced in the body can also lead to a post nasal drip. The cause for this could be anatomical like a deviated septum or a small sinus opening, or could be created by the presence of a foreign body (more common in young children) or the formation of a polyp. A polyp is basically an unusually large overgrowth of the membrane lining the sinuses.

Investigations

Certain investigations may be necessary to help narrow down the possible causes, and these include a CT scan of the paranasal sinuses, an antibiotic sensitivity test to rule out any antibiotic resistance, X-ray of the sinuses and allergic sensitivity tests.

Treatment

The final treatment will depend on the exact reason that has been ascertained to be the cause. Antibiotics are indicated for treatment of infection of bacterial origin. Antihistamines and anti-allergic medication will help in symptomatic relief and may well be needed for long term relief as well.

If the presence of an anatomic abnormality is detected then that may have to be corrected with a surgical intervention. A narrow opening of the sinus will have to be widened surgically to allow the mucus to drain out on its own.

Polyps almost always need to be removed surgically. Polyps have a high chance of recurrence as even a small amount of tissue left behind can cause re-growth of the tissue. Nasal sprays and decongestants will not have much effect if the underlying problem has not been taken care of, however they are a useful adjunct to the treatment.

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