Today we will explore some of the most common sinus drainage symptoms. In addition, we will look at the underlying causes for chronic and constant sinus discharge problems and highlight some treatment options and home remedies that usually help.
Excessive Sinus Drainage Causes
The mucus glands in your nose and throat continue to produce mucus (one to two quarts of mucus each day) every second of your life as a way to keep the nasal passages moist and protect your respiratory system against foreign matter e.g. dust and infections from bacteria and viruses.
The mucus produced is naturally intended to be swallowed down your throat without you even realizing it. At times however, it happens that there is excessive production of mucus in the nose and throat – excessive sinus drainage.
The excessive mucus secretions flow down the back of the throat leading to a feeling of mucus accumulation and flow. Among the most common causes of excessive sinus drainage are:
- Common colds and flue
- Hay fever
- Throat and swallowing disorders
- Dry environmental conditions
- High blood pressure
- Irritants such as dust, perfumes, smog and smoke)
- Taking certain foods and drinks e.g. dairy products, coffee, and alcohol.
- Excessive use of nasal sprays
Sinus Drainage Symptoms -Signs
Understanding sinus drainage symptoms is important not only for diagnosis and treatment of this common problem. A feeling of mucus accumulating and dripping down at the back of the throat, leading to a frequent urge to clear the throat, is the most obvious symptoms of sinus drainage.
This in turn causes irritation which triggers a cough. The WebMD says the irritation caused, coupled with the inflammatory nature of the substances in the mucus is to blame for the coughs which tend to worsen at night.
Your voice may also turn hoarse as a result of the mucus flowing down your throat and it is also not uncommon to get a sore throat.
Since sinus drainage is commonly a symptom of another condition, you may experience other symptoms that are attributed to whatever condition or disease is causing the problem. For example, when allergy is to blame for the problem, it is not uncommon to have itchy eyes and nose, teary eyes, and headaches.
Common sinus drainage symptoms can be summarized as follows:
- Frequent need to clear the throat
- Phlegm (excess mucus) in the throat
- Hoarse voice
- Sore throat
- Stomach upset
- Difficulty breathing
- Bad breath or halitosis – when the condition is left untreated.
- Swollen glands
- Runny nose
- Ear pain: when mucus leaks into and plugs the Eustachian tube – the tube connecting the throat to the ear – leading to an ear infection.
Sinus drainage symptoms tend to be worse in the morning as a result of gravity which makes mucus to drain backwards into the throat and lower respiratory tract as you sleep.
Sinus Drainage Nausea
Sinus drainage, or post nasal drip if you like, is often linked to nausea. Nausea occurs as a result of the flow of the excessive mucus associated with sinus drainage into the stomach.
It tends to especially happen in the early morning hours when you have not yet eaten anything, but it may as well kick in at any time of the day.
Nausea may or may not be accompanied by stomach upsets. The latter happens when infected mucus enters the stomach.
If you have nausea resulting from sinus drainage (post nasal drip), then you may want to try the following tips:
- Ginger: This is a fantastic natural remedy and the options vary from ginger-flavored sodas to ginger candy and ginger-flavored tea.
- Avoid dairy products as they make digestion more difficult in addition to increasing the secretion of mucus.
- Get a piece of dry toast the first thing in the morning to soak up the excess mucus in your stomach and throat.
- Medications: Your first over-the-counter options is decongestants, but if you suspect allergies, you will as well want to take some antihistamines.
Sinus Drainage Cough
As a result of the accumulation of mucus at the back of the throat commonly associated with sinus drainage, constant coughing is one of the main symptoms. As a matter of fact, excessive sinus discharge is the common cause of most chronic coughs as the WebMD says.
Sinus drainage that is accompanied by cough is also medically referred to as ‘upper airway cough syndrome’.
Coughing often worsens with intake of certain foods which trigger more production of mucus.
When so frequent, coughing may cause discomfort, or even become an irritation to the people around you. In some severe cases, post nasal drip coughing can as well interfere with your sleep – make it difficult for you to sleep. Sinus drainage coughs tend to get worse at night.
Taking plenty of water and other clear liquids has been shown to relieve sinus drainage coughs.
Chronic Sinus Drainage
Chronic sinus drainage problem is often attributed to Structural defects.
Deviated septum is the anatomical defect most commonly linked to sinus drainage. Septum is the cartilaginous tissue that occur between the right and left nostrils and when not aligned, it often leads to breathing problems.
When a deviated septum prevents normal flow of sinus fluids, sinusitis often results, sometimes leading to accumulation of thick mucus at the back of the throat.
A septal spur (a sharp projection from the septum) can also irritate the nasal lining, leading to abnormal secretions.
Nasal polyps can as well cause chronic sinus drainage. These are outwards growth on the nasal membrane that are usually caused by infections, irritants and allergy.
Structural defects like these usually require surgical correction.
According to The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, it is not always possible to link an existing structural defect to sinus drainage and for that reason, other medical treatments should first of all be used before ultimately falling back to surgery.
Chronic sinus drainage could as well be caused by inadequate hydration. This is especially true for the elderly who often drink inadequate amount of fluids. Taking lots of water coupled with mucus thinning medications such as guaifenesin (Humibid, Robitussin etc.) and organic iodide may help.
Organic iodide may in rare cases cause swelling of the saliva glands. Should that happen, you should stop using the drug immediately as the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery says.
Taking OTC nasal sprays such as Nasal ®, Ayr ® and Ocean® is also often helpful.
When the allergen cannot really be avoided, immunotherapy may be used. This involves a series of allergen injections that are administered over the course of months or years in progressively increasing doses. The ultimate goal of this therapy is to desensitize the patient to a particular allergen.
Constant Sinus Drainage Home Remedies
Constant sinus drainage may be attributed to factors such as pregnancy, menopause, taking certain foods and medications, and living in an environment loaded with potential allergens such as animal dander, mold, cockroach dust, chemicals, and dust mite. It could also be attributed to low humidity, such as is common is winter.
Here are some of the best home remedies to try for contact sinus drainage:
- Take lots of fluids including water, soup, tea etc., but stay away from beverages that dehydrate the body such as alcohol, coffee. This helps to thin mucus secretions and improve the flow.
- Avoid diuretic medicines as they also dehydrate the body
- Identify any potential allergen in your environment and eliminate it. Common suspects are molds, chemicals, dust mite, and animal dander.
- Use over-the-counter saline nasal sprays to irrigate your nose and flush out mucus and other debris. Alternatively, prepare a saline solution by adding ½ teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water. Once the salt has dissolved, pour it gently into your nostrils with a Neti-pot, one at a time, while leaning over a sink, and finish by blowing your nose.
- Run a humidifier or vaporizer in your house to increase moisture content in the air.
- Add one or more pillows – or slide a book or piece of wood under the front legs of your bed – at night to keep your head elevated as you sleep. This prevents pooling up of mucus at the back of your throat as you sleep.
- For allergies, use a dust-mite proof cover for your mattresses and pillowcases, wash beddings in hot water frequently, vacuum or dust your house regularly, or invest in a HEPA air filters in your home of at least a rating of 100.
- Get plenty of rest and avoid sudden movements
- Increase your intake of vitamin A and C , zinc and iron
- Apply warm, moist cloth onto your face – paying close attention to cheeks and nose – to loosen the mucus stuck in the passageways
- Reduce intake of dairy, wheat, and processed foods as this may increase mucus production in sinus and nasal cavities.