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What is the Connection Between Post Nasal Drip and Sore Throat?

By Henry Gaudet
Updated May 17, 2024
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Post nasal drip and sore throat are commons symptoms of cold, flu and hay fever. When the sinuses oversecrete, the excess mucus drains down the throat, and some often clings to the back of the throat. This is post nasal drip, and it often causes a sore, irritated throat.

Under normal conditions, the sinuses create mucus to control moisture in the air and to help capture particles that are breathed in. Conditions such as illness, dust or allergens in the air, spicy foods, and even bright lights can cause an increase in mucus secretion. In cases of infection, the mucus might thicken and become opaque.

Excess mucus flows out of the sinuses, either out of the nostrils or down the back of the throat — a process called post nasal drip. Often, especially when the mucus is thick, it clings to the throat and can cause an unpleasant, sticky sensation and a bad taste as well as a scratchy or sore irritation. It can also lead to an infection of the upper respiratory tract if the mucus makes its way into the lungs.

When experiencing post nasal drip and sore throat, the sufferer’s voice is likely to become gravelly or hoarse. He might need to clear his throat or cough repeatedly or might feel a constant tickle in the throat. A frequent urge to swallow is common, and the person also might feel the urge to spit or snort to clear away the mucus. Bad breath also is quite typical.

Depending on the cause, these symptoms could require that an individual visit a medical professional, but there are some simple steps that might relieve the problem. For an irritation from an environmental source, such as with dust or an allergen, a change of scenery should offer immediate relief. People with these symptoms should also get plenty to drink, since the liquid not only replaces the fluids lost by mucus secretion, it also helps rinse the throat clean and reduces irritation. Gargling with salt water can also rinse away mucus and fight infection.

After and infection takes hold, prescription antibiotics probably will be required. Other prescription and nonprescription medications, such as pain killers or decongestants, might help to manage the symptoms. Even if there are no specific signs of infection, anyone who experiences post nasal drip and sore throat for more than five days should get medical attention.

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Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Mar 22, 2013

@ZipLine-- I know what you mean, I have the same exact problem.

What do you do when you have post nasal drip? Have you ever used a netty pot for it?

I heard that rinsing the nose with saline solution using a netty pot is very beneficial. Salt water gargling helps too but apparently, a netty pot cleans better. Plus, the saline solution sold at pharmacies are sterile.

By ZipLine — On Mar 21, 2013

@alisha-- No, acid reflux can cause sore throat, but not post nasal drip. Post nasal drip is usually associated with allergies or a sinus infection.

I have sinus infections often and it almost always causes post nasal drip. It's very frustrating because my throat becomes very sore and ticklish when it happens. Sometimes I even develop a cough.

This is actually how my sinusitis was diagnosed. I had chronic sore throat and congestion. When my doctor did not find a viral infection, he checked my sinuses.

By discographer — On Mar 21, 2013

Can acid reflux cause post nasal drip and sore throat?

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