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Postnasal drip and hay fever

If you suffer from hay fever, you’ll be used to plenty of irritating symptoms. Snotty nose? Yep. Peering through streaming, itchy eyes? We see you. Just. And, to add insult to your hay fever injuries, you may have to endure a postnasal drip. Postnasal drip results from you producing too much mucus and is often linked to catarrh or scleroderma.

This is a common symptom of hay fever, but you may also get it when you’re fighting a cold, flu, sinus infection or if you’re pregnant. It can also occur while eating spicy food.

What is a postnasal drip?

Postnasal drip is where excess mucus from your nose and throat glands runs down the back of your throat. Grim, we know. You may find you’re swallowing or clearing your throat more often, particularly at night, which can then cause your throat to become irritated.

Key postnasal drip symptoms

You may struggle with many symptoms if you’re experiencing postnasal drip, which can be difficult if you’ve also got hay fever or another allergy. Some of the most common symptoms of postnasal drip are:

  • Raspy or gurgling speech
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Repeated clearing your throat
  • Frequent swallowing
  • Feeling a blockage in your throat

What causes postnasal drip?

You can develop postnasal drip due to a variety of reasons, and usually it’s nothing to worry about. But if you’re unsure about any postnasal drip symptoms, chat to your doctor.

The most common causes of a postnasal drip are:

  • Allergies to dust mites, animal hair or pollen
  • Colds or flu
  • Sinusitis or sinus infection
  • Pregnancy
  • Some forms of medication e.g., some contraceptive pills or blood pressure medicines
  • Physical deformities of the nose or swelling
  • Low temperatures, change in weather or extreme dryness
  • Spicy food
  • Chemical fumes, such as cleaning products, smoke or aftershave

Can hay fever cause postnasal drip?

Hay fever is a common allergy that can cause postnasal drip. It’s an allergic reaction to pollen and results in itchy eyes, a snotty nose, sinus congestion and other symptoms. Your body is trying to trap pollen particles and get rid of them from your body.

You can sometimes overproduce mucus as part of your immune response to fight pollen, causing you to develop a postnasal drip and cough.

Postnasal drip cough

A persistent cough is common if you’re experiencing postnasal drip. Your throat is trying to clear all that excess mucus. Coughing may also temporarily relieve your irritated throat, but in the long run it just makes your throat even more sore. Your best bet? Over-the-counter syrups, which can help soothe your irritated, inflamed throat. This is especially true at night when a postnasal drip cough can really kick in.

How long does it last?

Postnasal drip and its symptoms can last for weeks or months, depending on your circumstances. But it should eventually clear up on its own. If you’re struggling, take a visit to your pharmacist or doctor and see what advice they have.

Postnasal drip treatment

You can usually treat postnasal drip with an over-the-counter nasal spray. More complicated or long-term cases may mean you have to see your doctor. They may suggest changes to your diet or even look at surgical solutions. Don’t worry, though, for most of us, postnasal drip goes away on its own.

Antibiotics and nasal saline irrigations can help clear up any underlying sinus or bacterial infections and reduce postnasal drip.

To prevent postnasal drip, try to avoid triggers and take quick action if you come down with a cold or flu. Talk to your doctor about which antihistamines, decongestants or steroid nasal sprays might be good for you. If you struggle with hay fever and postnasal drip, you can use our pollen tracker to keep an eye on the pollen count near you.


Can you stop postnasal drip?

It's best to prevent postnasal drip by taking your allergy medication or avoiding irritants. The best way to stop it is to know what’s causing it in the first place. For example, if your postnasal drip is triggered by hay fever, try and control the amount of pollen you’re exposed to. If you do struggle with your symptoms, there are plenty of treatment options out there.

Can you have postnasal drip without a runny nose?

Yes, you can. The excess mucus produced by your body can escape through your nostrils, down your throat, or both. A snotty nose and postnasal drip could indicate you’ve got a cold, flu or hay fever.

What triggers postnasal drip?

Postnasal drip can be triggered by many things including spicy food, allergies, pregnancy, flu and the common cold. It’s usually nothing to be worried about but, if you’re concerned, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.


The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment

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