Best Allergy Medicines for Postnasal Drip: A Practical Guide

Wyndly Care Team
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Is Zyrtec or Benadryl better for post nasal drip?

Zyrtec is generally better for treating post-nasal drip than Benadryl as it is less likely to cause drowsiness and can be taken once per day. However, Benadryl may be effective for nighttime relief. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new medication regimen.

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What Is Postnasal Drip?

Postnasal drip is a condition where excess mucus accumulates in the back of the throat, leading to a feeling of mucus dripping from the back of your nose. It can result from various causes, including allergies, colds, or sinus infections. Symptoms include coughing, a sore throat, and hoarseness.

The mucus produced by your body serves to moisten and clean the nasal membranes, humidify air, trap and clear inhaled foreign matter, and fight infection. Under normal circumstances, we swallow this mucus unconsciously throughout the day. However, when the body produces excess mucus, it can be noticeable and irritating, as detailed in this Wyndly article.

This condition is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of another health problem. Allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, are a common cause of postnasal drip. Other triggers include sinus infections, cold weather, certain foods, fumes from chemicals, smoke, and other irritants.

Understanding the root cause of your postnasal drip is crucial for effective treatment. Therefore, if you suspect allergies are to blame for your postnasal drip, it's essential to seek a proper diagnosis and consider an allergy treatment plan.

What Causes Postnasal Drip?

Postnasal drip is typically a symptom of an underlying health issue. Allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, represent a common cause. It can also result from colds, sinus infections, certain weather conditions, spicy foods, or exposure to smoke and other irritants.


Allergies, particularly allergic rhinitis, often lead to postnasal drip. When your body encounters an allergen, it responds by producing excess mucus to flush out the invader, which can result in a dripping sensation. Non-drowsy allergy medicine can provide relief from allergy symptoms, including postnasal drip, without causing sleepiness. These are typically second-generation antihistamines, which are a popular option for treating allergies (source).

Sinus Infections and Colds

Sinus infections and colds are two other common causes of postnasal drip. Both these conditions lead to inflammation in the sinus cavities, causing excess mucus production. This mucus can then drip down the back of your throat, resulting in postnasal drip.

Other Factors

Other factors can also contribute to postnasal drip, such as certain weather conditions (particularly dry air), spicy foods, or exposure to smoke and other irritants. Treating a stuffy nose from allergies can often help alleviate postnasal drip (source).

What Symptoms Indicate Postnasal Drip?

Postnasal drip is often indicated by an uncomfortable sensation of mucus flowing down the back of the throat, leading to frequent swallowing or throat clearing. Other symptoms might include a cough, sore throat, hoarseness, and a feeling of a lump in the throat.

Cough and Sore Throat

A constant need to clear your throat or a persistent cough, particularly at night or upon awakening, can be symptoms of postnasal drip. These symptoms can often be confused with a sore throat, but there are clear differences between a sore throat caused by a cold and the one resulting from postnasal drip.

Understanding Mucus Color

The color of your mucus can also indicate postnasal drip. Clear or white mucus generally indicates a non-infectious cause like allergies. Yellow or green mucus could indicate an infection. Regardless of the color, if you're experiencing postnasal drip symptoms, nasal sprays can provide short-term relief. For proper application of nasal sprays, consider following proper techniques.

In Children

In children, symptoms of postnasal drip may include irritability, swallowing problems, and even bad breath. If allergies are the cause, a variety of allergy medications are available for children. However, the easiest way to start treating allergies is often with conservative therapies such as second-generation antihistamines and nasal sprays.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Postnasal Drip?

Doctors diagnose postnasal drip based on the patient's symptoms and through a physical examination. While the symptoms can be indicative, further tests may be required to determine the underlying cause of the condition.

Physical Examination

During a physical exam, the doctor may check the patient's nose, throat, and sinuses for signs of inflammation and mucus. They may also ask about the patient's medical history, including any known allergies or recent illnesses.

Diagnostic Tests

If necessary, the doctor might recommend further diagnostic tests. These can include a nasal endoscopy, allergy tests, or a CT scan of the sinuses. These tests help in identifying the exact cause of postnasal drip, whether it's due to allergies, sinusitis, or other conditions.

What Are the Best Allergy Medicines for Postnasal Drip?

The best allergy medicines for postnasal drip depend on the specific symptoms and their underlying causes. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, prescription treatments, and sublingual immunotherapy are some of the options available to manage this condition.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

OTC medicines like antihistamines and decongestants can provide relief from postnasal drip symptoms. Antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) or loratadine (Claritin), help reduce the body's allergic response. Decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can help clear the nasal passages.

Prescription Treatments

For more severe symptoms, doctors may prescribe stronger medications. These could include prescription-strength antihistamines, corticosteroid nasal sprays, or antibiotics if a bacterial infection is causing the postnasal drip.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy, a form of allergy treatment, can be an effective solution for postnasal drip caused by allergies. It involves placing a tablet under the tongue that contains small amounts of the allergen, helping to gradually build up the body's tolerance.

What Home Remedies Can Help with Postnasal Drip?

Several home remedies can help manage postnasal drip symptoms and offer relief. These include hydration, humidification, and dietary changes, each of which can help soothe irritated nasal passages and thin out excess mucus.

Keeping yourself hydrated is crucial. Drinking plenty of fluids such as water, broth, or herbal tea can help thin the mucus and soothe the throat. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages as they can lead to dehydration.

Using a humidifier can help keep your nasal and throat passages moist, which can reduce the symptoms of postnasal drip. Be sure to clean the humidifier regularly to avoid the growth of mold or bacteria.

Lastly, avoid foods and drinks that can trigger mucus production. These could include dairy products, spicy foods, or certain types of alcohol. Instead, opt for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

How Can One Prevent Postnasal Drip?

Preventing postnasal drip often involves managing potential triggers and maintaining good nasal health. This can include avoiding allergens, staying hydrated, and maintaining a clean environment.

Avoiding allergens is essential. If an allergy is the cause of your postnasal drip, try to limit your exposure to the allergen. This could involve staying indoors on high pollen count days or using hypoallergenic bedding.

Hydration is also key. Drinking plenty of fluids can help keep the mucus thin and less sticky. This can prevent the mucus from accumulating and causing postnasal drip.

Maintaining a clean environment can also help. Regularly cleaning your home can reduce the presence of allergens such as dust and mold. Using a dehumidifier can help prevent mold growth by reducing humidity levels.

When Should One Consult a Doctor for Postnasal Drip?

You should consult a doctor for postnasal drip if symptoms persist for more than a week, become severe, or are accompanied by other concerning signs. Timely medical intervention can help prevent complications and provide relief.

For instance, OTC treatments aren't alleviating your symptoms, a healthcare provider can prescribe stronger medications. Additionally, if postnasal drip is accompanied by high fever, difficulty breathing, or blood in the mucus, immediate medical attention is necessary.

In some cases, postnasal drip could be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as sinusitis or a respiratory infection. Thus, if your symptoms are persistent or worsening, it's crucial to seek professional help to accurately diagnose and treat the underlying cause.

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If you want long-term relief from your allergies, Wyndly can help. Our doctors will help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you the lifelong relief you deserve. Start by taking our quick online allergy assessment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What medicine breaks up post nasal drip?

Decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal steroids are commonly used to break up post-nasal drip. Decongestants reduce mucus production, antihistamines control allergic reactions that cause mucus buildup, and nasal steroids decrease inflammation, alleviating the symptoms of post-nasal drip. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting a new medication.

What is the fastest way to dry up post nasal drip?

The fastest way to dry up post nasal drip is through use of over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants. Using a humidifier, staying hydrated, and avoiding known allergens can also help. If symptoms persist, prescription medications or steroid nasal sprays may be recommended by a medical professional.

Which allergy medicine is best for post nasal drip?

Antihistamines and decongestants are common treatments for post nasal drip caused by allergies. Antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra reduce mucus production, while decongestants like Sudafed help clear nasal passages. However, the best medication depends on individual health conditions and severity of symptoms.

How do you treat post nasal drip allergies?

Post nasal drip allergies are typically treated using antihistamines or decongestants to reduce mucus production. Nasal sprays can also be effective in alleviating symptoms. In case of persistent symptoms, immunotherapy or allergy shots might be recommended to gradually desensitize the immune system to allergens.

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