Postnasal drip is usually triggered by allergies. Aside from allergies though, there are other causes that causes some individuals to clear up their throat frequently. The possible causes of postnasal drip include non-allergic rhinitis, allergic rhinitis and even sinusitis. In addition, gastroesophageal reflux disease might mimic the condition.
Postnasal drip can be due to non-allergic or vasomotor rhinitis. This can be suspected among the elderly with the symptoms who does not have any allergies at a younger age.
The non-allergic triggers might include worsening symptoms with changes in the weather, exposure to strong perfumes or odors or using medications for high blood pressure. Take note that those with non-allergic rhinitis have no reactions on allergy testing.
The postnasal drip due to non-allergic rhinitis includes nasal antihistamines, nasal steroids, anticholinergic nasal sprays as well as some antihistamines.
It is important to note that postnasal drip can be a symptom of allergic rhinitis, but there are also other symptoms present. In most cases, allergic rhinitis also includes nasal congestion, sneezing and a runny or itchy nose.
Individuals with postnasal drip due to allergic rhinitis are diagnosed in the same way with other forms of symptoms. A positive result in the allergy testing indicates that there is an allergic cause for the symptoms. There are various medications for this type of rhinitis that are beneficial in managing postnasal drip.
Postnasal drip might also be the only symptom of sinusitis or accompanied by other symptoms such as nasal congestion, facial pain and colored nasal drainage. If postnasal drip is the only symptom of sinusitis, it is considered as a low-grade infection that has been present for months and even years in some cases.
Since the symptoms of this type of sinusitis are mild, a diagnosis is only made after the doctor requests for a sinus X-ray. When it is due to a sinus infection, it is managed using antibiotics but they should be taken for an extended period if the infection is a chronic one.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Even though gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) does not lead to postnasal drip, it might mimic the symptom. The doctor can give a diagnosis of GERD with the help of direct laryngoscopy. This will reveal any irritation in the upper throat due to the backflow of stomach acid. The management of GERD typically involves the use of proton pump inhibitors that the individual should take for several months.