Updated April 24th, 2017.

Do you suffer from sinus drainage, post nasal drip or other sinus issues? If so, you’re not alone. Many people experience symptoms ranging from the annoyance and discomfort of sinus drainage to the throbbing pain of a blocked sinus. But what causes sinus problems, and how can you prevent them from getting out of hand?

What Causes Sinus Drainage?

It’s actually perfectly normal for sinuses to produce and drain mucus down the back of your throat. In most normal conditions, you wouldn’t even notice. It’s when sinuses develop a problem that the drainage becomes an issue.

Sinus drainage can be worsened by a number of factors, such as:

  • Dry air
  • Dehydration
  • Weather changes
  • Allergies
  • Cold and flu
  • Sinus infection (sinusitis)

As long as your sinuses are draining properly, the increase in mucus isn’t a problem, although it can be annoying. The real problems start when the passages become blocked or fail to let the sinuses drain effectively. The resulting pressure can be intolerable for many people.

Sinus infections sometimes resolve themselves, but often require antibiotics. Chronic sinus infections may indicate a need for further treatment, such as balloon sinuplasty to open sinus passages and allow effective drainage.

Where Does All That Drainage Go?

An excessive amount of drainage can be cause for concern. Normally, the drainage harmlessly passes down your throat and into your stomach. Sometimes, when the drainage is thicker or excessive, it can cause irritation in your throat, coughing, and discomfort.

Many people fear the drainage could end up in your lungs. Normally that would be prevented by the epiglottis, the little flap in your airway that automatically covers the entrance to your lungs when something other than air is in your throat.

However, when you lie flat on your back at night post nasal drip can actually seep around the epiglottis, exposing your lungs to the bacteria in the mucus. Pneumonia (an infection in your lungs) and bronchitis (irritation of the bronchial tubes in your lungs) could develop.

How Do I Prevent Sinus Drainage from Developing into Problems?

No one likes the feeling of chronic post nasal drip. Here are a few tips for dealing with the drainage and preventing larger problems from developing.

  • Thin the drainage by staying well hydrated and using a humidifier at home, especially in your bedroom.
  • Flush your sinuses regularly with a salt water solution to encourage healthy drainage and prevent blockages.
  • Prevent sinus drainage from being a problem at night by propping your head, neck, and shoulders up on pillows, or by using a foam wedge.
  • Talk to your doctor about medication, such as allergy medications. If your sinus problems persist, a minor procedure such as balloon sinuplasty may promote healthy drainage and provide the relief you need.

American Sinus Institute

Sinus sufferers needn’t fear. You are not alone in your discomfort, and you don’t have to continue to suffer. Contact the American Sinus Institute today to find out how balloon sinuplasty can help relieve your sinus problems.