Dr. James Chandler, N.D.,  Ph.D - Chandler Naturopathic Health Center
Chandler Naturopathic Health Center

Post Nasal Drip and mucus

     The buildup of mucus in the nasal cavities that run down the back of the throat (instead of running out the front) is known as Post Nasal Drip (PND).  Many people (including yours truly) experience this condition from time to time while others experience it on a chronic basis.  Often, it is a seasonal thing that affect most people during the spring and fall.  According to “WebMD” PND is symptomatic of a number of health related conditions. After finding the cause, a more specific treatment can be given (i.e., a drug).
So, let’s explore some of the more common reasons people have PND.
1.       Bacterial infection of the nasal lining and/or sinuses
2.      Viral infection of the nasal lining and/or sinuses
3.      Fungal infection of the nasal lining and/or sinuses
4.      Inflammation of the nasal passages
5.      Allergies (cigarette smoke, food, pollen, dust, dander, mold and mildew)
6.      The common cold
7.      Spicy foods
8.      Strong odors (food, perfumes, cleaning substances and other      
9.      Physical defects such as a deviated septum
As you can imagine, there are many reasons your PND can occur with each of the above examples.  For instance: you could be working in the yard or visiting someone in the hospital (or other place, it doesn't really matter) and you inhale bacteria, a virus, or allergen that sets up in your nasal lining or sinuses.  This can happen especially if your immune system is challenged by other illnesses or depletion of vital nutrients.  As for odors, if you can smell it, then you are inhaling it's particulate matter (when you think about it, it can be kinda gross).
     Ok!  So you have PND with mucus in the back of your throat and it is driving you nuts.  What can you do?  Obviously, if you know what is causing it, then the answer is simple (sort of).  The solution is a three step process, identify, prevent, and treat.
     Identify the cause.  This may take a little work on your part.  Some (with myself included) know the triggers that cause PND.  Others may have to do a little more investigative work.  Is it because of some medication (prescription or over the counter) that you are taking, an allergen such as dust, pet dander, mold, food, or do you have a physical problem?  Are your symptoms better or worse in certain locations, after eating certain foods, or different times of the day?
    Prevention:  Avoid the trigger,  strong odors, allergens, foods that produce mucus such as dairy, spicy foods and places that contain bacteria, virus mold and mildew.  Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your nose.  Beef up your immune system by eating properly, sleeping well, exercising and drinking plenty of water.  Use mattress covers, hypo allergenic pillow covers, regularly wash bedding in hot water.  Install humidifiers in the home or bedroom to prevent nasal dryness.  Use HEPA filters to filter out allergens and vacuum often.
     Treatment:  For stuffy nose and to thin and reduce mucus use a saline nasal spray or (if you have no physical obstruction) use a Netti pot to flush nasal passages and sinus cavities.  IMPORTANT: If you do use a Netti pot, use distilled water and not tap water.  make your own saline solution by using 1/2 tablespoon of non iodized salt mixed in 8 ounces of water for each nasal cavity.  If you have (or suspect that you have) a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection add 1-3 drops of Oil of Oregano to the saline mix.  Using the saline spray or Netti pot flushes the allergens, bacteria, virus, and fungi out of the sinus cavity and nasal passages. Also, gargle with a saline solution (made the same way) several times a day to break up and remove the mucus in the back of the throat. The use of saline is not only a treatment but a highly effective preventative measure.  Don't blow your nose.  This only pushes the mucus further into the sinus and may cause a severe sinus infection.  Instead, go the other way and spit the mucus out.
     Natural decongestants and expectorants:  A decongestant is a substance that relieves mucus congestion in the upper respiratory tract i.e., nose, sinus, lungs.  An expectorant promotes the discharge of mucus.  Foods should be your first choice as a decongestant and expectorant.  Onions and garlic are potent decongestants/expectorants.  Garlic can be taken in pill form or eaten raw.  Spicy foods (if you can tolerate them) such as wasobi, horseradish, chili peppers, and citrus fruit relieve congestion.  Honey mixed with a little warm water can clear a stuffy nose (if you are not allergic to honey or bee stings).  Steam is a natural decongestant: whether you sit in a hot bath with door shut, drape a towel over your head with a pot of steaming water, or use a humidifier, you will get the same results.  Hot, wet air shrinks swollen nasal tissues and breaks up phlegm.  You can add a little apple cider vinegar, oil of oregano, Eucalyptus oil, or peppermint to the water for even better results.  Drinking water and plenty of it also helps thin and flush mucus away.
     Supplements:  Vitamin C thins mucus and boosts immunity.  Try 2,000 - 5,000 mg of Vitamin C in divided doses throughout the day.  Choose a vitamin C product that is buffered and contains bioflavonoids.  The best product, in my opinion, is the Liposomal C from DaVinci.  This product is highly absorbable and well worth the money.  For PND caused by allergies try Vitamin C, quercetin, bromelain, stinging nettle leaf, eyebright, turmeric, butterbur (alkaloid free), and citrus bioflavonoids.  New Chapter makes a superb product called "Sinus take Care" that has many of these ingredients plus a few others.  I use this product and it definitely helps.  Combined with the measures discussed here, you could effectively manage or eliminate your PND and excess mucus.
For more information, contact Dr Chandler.  For supplements to help with PND, allergies, or other purposes please use the store page at www.drchandlernd.com.
 DISCLAIMER:  This post is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe medications for any specific condition.  No supplements recommended or mentioned in this post have been evaluated or approved by the FDA.  Always consult your physician before starting any supplement routine.   Eucalyptus oil should not be used by children under the age of 12.
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