How to Cure a Post-Nasal Drip

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Post-nasal drip describes a fluid discharging from your noise and into the back of your throat. Cure post-nasal drip with help from a health expert in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Cold-Weather Sickness Remedies
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill, and today we are going to be talking about how to cure a postnasal drip. Now, what do we mean when we say postnasal drip? Well, all it is is gunk coming down from your nose, down the back of your throat instead of forward. Now, there are a lot of reasons that you might have a postnasal drip. Essentially, anything that causes a runny nose will give you a postnasal drip. So, we think most of all about three things: viruses, allergies, and bacterial infections of the sinuses. How do we know the difference? Allergies is probably the easiest because allergies tend to itch. Usually, you get kind of a watery, runny nose with some itching. Your eyes might water or get red, or itchy as well. Allergies, sometimes you can tell what causes them. Maybe it's every time you get around your friend's dog, maybe it's certain seasons of the year. It might be every time you go home because you've got dust mites or even cockroaches or something there. But usually there's an identifiable trigger. Allergies can also last for weeks on end, but you almost never get a really thick runny nose with allergies. And you really shouldn't get fever. If you do have allergies, you can start with over-the-counter antihistamines, such as cetirizine which is Zyrtec or loratadine which is Claritin. When those aren't working, your doctor has other prescription allergy medicines, mainly nasal steroid sprays that can help out with allergies. Now, you might have caught a cold or a virus. What's the difference? Well, there's not so much itching as there is with allergies.You might get some fever, aches. You might have more cough, more systemic symptoms like tummy ache or headache. The runny nose from a cold or virus will last about seven to 10 days, 14 days on the outside. Usually, it starts watery, gets thick and green and yellowish and then toward the end gets watery again. The good news about colds is they go away on their own. There's not a whole lot to do in the meantime to make them go away any faster. There is one prescription medication if your nose is just driving you crazy called Atrovent or Ipratropium and that will sort of turn off the faucet on a runny nose so you may still want to talk to your doctor about that even if you think you have a viral cold. Now, last is sinusitis, a sinus infection. In children sinus infections do respond to antibiotics. In adults we often try antibiotics although it's not as clear that bacterial sinusitis responds. How do you know it's a sinus infection? Well, you may get a fever that goes on more then three days or is over 102 or 103 degrees. You might get a fever late in the illness. In adults, you may get some intense sinus pain or pressure in your face but in children that's a much less common presentation of a sinus infection. You might also have cold symptoms that don't get better after 10 to 14 days that would also suggest a sinus infection. If you do think that you or your child has a sinus infection, talk to a doctor about that, because they may have some treatment to help out. Talking about how to get rid of a postnasal drip, I'm Dr. David Hill.

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