Causes of Post-Nasal Drip

Post-nasal drip is a fairly common condition that causes the mucus that builds up behind the throat and nose to feel as if it is dripping down the back of your throat. This can be troublesome and make your throat sore. You may feel congested or need to cough. You might also have the feeling that the mucus is abnormally thick and difficult to clear. That said, there are numerous ways to treat postnasal drip. But before you use these methods, it is important to understand the causes of this condition.


One of the most common causes of postnasal drip is a cold. A simple cold causes a myriad of symptoms, such as nasal congestion and a runny nose-, both of which are contributing factors to the development of postnasal drip. A cold will typically run its course within seven days, and over-the-counter cold treatments can reduce symptoms, including postnasal drip.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is another prominent cause of postnasal drip. It is actually not just one condition, but rather a group of symptoms that affect the sinuses, eyes and nose. Typically, when you are exposed to an allergen, you experience the symptoms of allergic rhinitis like sneezing and runny nose. Prolonged symptoms, however, can lead to postnasal drip.

Sinus Infection

Sinusitis is another common reason for the development of postnasal drip. When an infection takes root in the sinuses, whether from bacterial, viral or fungal sources, the sinuses become inflamed. This inflammation can cause symptoms like sneezing, running nose, sinus pressure and pain, and postnasal drip.

Nasal Polyps

Though not as common as the causes above, nasal polyps are another cause of postnasal drip. Polyps are actually sacs of tissue that have become inflamed and stick into the nasal cavity. Polyps can cause postnasal drip to develop since the nasal mucosa is irritated, causing extra mucus to develop.

Deviated Septum

People with a deviated septum might also notice the onset of postnasal drip. The septum is the part of the nose that separates the nostrils from each other. A septum is deviated if it is shifted to one side a bit, meaning one nostril is slightly pinched off. This can cause mucus to build up on one side more than the other, resulting in nasal drip.

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About the Author

Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.