Best Medication for Post Nasal Drip: Types and More

Postnasal drip can occur due to various conditions. Several medications can treat the underlying cause, and the medications recommended work differently to stop gout.

This article covers the best medications for postnasal drip, including types, dosages, precautions, and possible side effects. It also looks at home remedies, preventions, and when to contact a doctor.

Usually, a person swallows the mucus produced by their body or breathes it in through their nose. However, if someone produces excess mucus, they may feel it leaking down the back of their throat. Doctors call this postnasal drip.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, postnasal drip can develop due to:

Drugs for postnatal drip

Different drug classifications perform different functions that can help with postnatal drip, such as:

  • help dry up mucus
  • decreased mucus production
  • treat the underlying cause of postnasal drip

These drugs also come in different forms, including:

  • pills
  • nasal sprays
  • liquids
  • syrups

According to research from 2019, topical medications, like a nasal spray, allow people to apply a higher concentration of medication directly to the receptor site. This reduces the risk of systemic or body-wide side effects compared to oral medications.

We discuss the best medications for postnasal drip in more detail below.

Antihistamines act on histamine receptors, which often cause typical allergic symptoms, such as excessive mucus production and postnasal drip. A range of antihistamines are available.

Prescription first-generation oral antihistamines include:

  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl), also available over-the-counter (OTC)
  • chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), also available over the counter
  • carbinoxamine (Clistine)

Second and third generation antihistamines include:

  • desloratadine (Clarinex)
  • loratadine (Claritin), available over the counter
  • fexofenadine (Allegra), available over the counter
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine), available over the counter

Dosage

The exact dose depends on the form of the drug.

The typical adult dose of Benadryl is 25 to 50 milligrams (mg) three or four times a day as needed.

Claritin comes as a 10 mg tablet and a liquid (1 mg per millilitre). The usual adult dose is 10 mg once a day.

A person should check the packaging of each medicine and confirm with a doctor whether it is suitable for children.

Precautions

Older or first-generation versions of antihistamines often cause side effects, such as sedation. However, second generation antihistamines are not sedating.

2019 Research found that second-generation antihistamines are safer and work more effectively than first-generation antihistamines.

People should tell their doctor if they are taking any other medications to check if they interact with antihistamines.

Possible side effects

Although second-generation antihistamines are safer than older drugs, side effects can still occur.

Possible side effects of antihistamines include:

People suffering from these side effects should see a doctor for their symptoms.

Decongestants decrease swelling in the nose, which can ease symptoms associated with postnasal drip, such as a runny nose.

Here are some examples of decongestants:

  • Mucinex
  • Soudafed
  • Suphedrine PE

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed restrictions on pseudoephedrine, active ingredient in many decongestants because people can convert it to methamphetamine. For this reason, pharmacies may keep products containing this ingredient behind the counter.

Dosage

If pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in a decongestant, the standard dosage for adults is one 60 mg tablet up to four times a day.

The FDA does not recommend that parents or caregivers give children decongestants less than 2 years old. It also states that people should be careful when giving them to children over 2 years old.

People can speak with a pediatrician to determine the most appropriate treatment for a child with postnasal drip issues.

Precautions

Decongestants containing pseudoephedrine stimulate certain central nervous system receptors that increase blood pressure.

People with heart conditions, including high blood pressure, should not use decongestants unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional.

Possible side effects

Common side effects of decongestants include:

A person should discuss any of the above side effects or other concerns with a doctor.

Steroids decrease inflammation in the nasal passages which can contribute to postnasal drip.

Doctors usually don’t prescribe oral steroids to treat postnasal drip because of potential side effects. However, over-the-counter nasal sprays may help and cause fewer side effects.

The following steroid nasal sprays are FDA-approved for over-the-counter use:

Dosage

A person must use fluticasone nasal spray regularly for it to work. People can use it once or twice a day, and the usual adult dose is 1 or 2 sprays in each nostril. Each spray is equivalent to 100 micrograms (mcg).

Teenagers and children over 4 years old can use 1 spray per nostril once a day.

Precautions

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, steroids may increase the risk of growth failure in children. However, it does indicate that topical steroids, such as nasal sprays, carry less risk than oral steroids.

It is best to discuss the risks versus benefits of using steroids with a healthcare professional.

Possible side effects

Possible side effects of steroid vaporizers include:

  • problems inside the nose, such as:
  • a dry, scratchy throat
  • an unpleasant taste in the mouth

Home remedies or alternative treatments can reduce postnasal drip. Possible options to try include:

Using a saline nasal spray

A saline spray is gentle and easy to use. Spraying the saline solution directly into the nose keeps the sinuses moist and can thin mucus running down the throat.

Learn how to make saline solution at home.

Nasal irrigation

Nasal irrigation involves rinsing the nasal cavity using a device such as a neti pot or high-volume device. Rinsing the nose helps remove nasal secretions and may decrease postnasal drip.

Research from 2020 found that high-volume devices were more effective than other types of nasal irrigation at clearing mucus.

Gargle with a salt water rinse

Gargling with salt water is a common home remedy for cold symptoms, such as a cough or postnasal drip. It is virtually free of side effects and easy to make.

A person can dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for 1 minute.

Learn more about gargling with salt water.

The best way to prevent postnasal drip is to treat the underlying medical condition. The following strategies may also help prevent postnasal drip:

  • drink more fluids to thin the mucus and help it flow
  • sleeping with the head of the bed elevated, reducing drips at the back of the throat
  • using a humidifier at home to increase the humidity in the air, which can reduce mucus
  • limiting the consumption of spicy foods to try to reduce GERD symptoms

Although postnasal drip isn’t often dangerous, it can be a symptom of another condition. A person should contact a doctor if:

  • symptoms last more than 10 days
  • they develop a high fever
  • foul-smelling mucus occurs, as this could indicate an infection
  • discolored mucus does not go away

The best medications for postnasal drip may depend on the underlying cause.

Examples of medications for postnasal drip include antihistamines, steroids, and decongestants. As with any medication, it is best to speak with a doctor before use to discuss dosage, precautions, and possible side effects.

A person may be able to treat postnasal drip at home with saline solutions or by gargling salt water. They may also wish to explore preventative measures such as purchasing a humidifier or dietary changes.

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