Postnasal drip can often be managed at home. In addition to elevating your head while you sleep, you can also gargle saltwater, inhale steam, use a humidifier, and drink warm fluids.
If you feel like mucus is dripping into your throat from your nose, you have postnasal drip. You may also feel like mucus is collecting in your throat.
This is caused by thickening or overproduction of mucus. It can occur due to several reasons, including:
- common cold
- some medications
- gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
Common symptoms include:
- frequently swallowing or clearing your throat
- sore throat
- frequent coughing
- feeling like there’s a lump in your throat
- gurgling voice
Often, postnasal drip can be treated with home remedies. You can also use them in combination with over-the-counter treatments.
It’s possible to naturally reduce postnasal drip at home. Here’s what you can do:
Prop up your head
Elevate your head to let gravity drain mucus from your nasal passages. Avoid lying down while reading or watching television.
At night, keep your head slightly elevated. You can do this by propping your pillow against your headboard or stacking two pillows.
Avoid placing your head too high, though, as it can cause neck and shoulder pain.
Drink fluids, especially hot fluids
Drink a lot of fluids to thin out mucus. The thinner the mucus, the easier it can pass through your nasal cavities.
Drinking fluids will also moisturize your nasal lining. Hot drinks, like tea or broth, are the best choice. The warmth of these beverages will thin your mucus.
Avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee, caffeinated tea, or soda. Caffeine has a diuretic effect, which may increase your risk of dehydration.
Gargling saltwater will loosen up mucus. It’s also helpful for soothing a sore throat.
To make a saltwater gargle, dissolve ½-teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of warm water. Gargle for as long as it feels comfortable, then spit it out. Repeat twice a day.
Steam inhalation can ease postnasal drip by thinning mucus. The steam will also moisten your nose and throat, helping mucus pass through.
You can inhale steam during a hot shower or bath. Another option is to try steam inhalation therapy:
- Pour hot water into a large heat-safe (like stainless-steel) bowl.
- Drape a towel over your head.
- Hover your face 8 to 12 inches above the water. Avoid directly touching the water.
- Inhale deeply and slowly. Continue for 2 to 5 minutes. Repeat twice a day.
Use a humidifier
A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can help reduce mucus. This can be especially soothing during the winter when indoor air is dry.
Regularly clean your humidifier. If it’s dirty, harmful germs might grow inside of it.
A nasal rinse can loosen thick or excess mucus. It’s also known as a sinus rinse, sinus flush, or nasal irrigation.
Nasal rinse products are available at the drugstore. Neti pots and squeeze bottles are common options.
Never use tap water, as it may contain harmful germs. Instead, use water that is distilled, sterile, or previously boiled and cooled.
Avoid alcohol and cigarette smoke
Avoid alcohol, which can lead to dehydration and worsen postnasal drip. This is especially important if your postnasal drip is due to GERD, as alcohol can worsen your symptoms.
You should also avoid cigarette smoke, including secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoke can increase mucus secretion and irritate your nose and throat. While quitting is difficult, your doctor can help you build a quit smoking plan that works for you.
GERD home remedies
Home remedies for decreasing GERD symptoms include:
- avoiding spicy foods
- limiting caffeine use
- losing weight
- propping up your head when you lie down in bed
- smoking cessation
See a doctor if GERD is interfering with your quality of life.
Essential oils are concentrated liquids that have been extracted from plants. They’re commonly used as natural remedies for various ailments. Some oils, like eucalyptus and peppermint, may offer relief from postnasal drip.
According to a 2020 review, eucalyptus oil contains a compound called 1,8-cineole. This compound can reduce mucus by controlling genes involved in mucus production. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which may soothe irritation.
Peppermint oil contains menthol, which can improve the sensation of congestion and mucus buildup. It doesn’t actually treat excess mucus, though. A
The best way to use essential oils for postnasal drip is through inhalation. This is a form of aromatherapy.
- breathe in the essential oil directly from the bottle
- add a few drops to a tissue or cotton ball, then inhale
- add the essential oil to a diffuser
- add several drops of diluted essential oil to a hot shower or bath
- add several drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water for steam inhalation
According to anecdotal evidence, apple cider vinegar can help postnasal drip.
Some people breathe in apple cider vinegar by sniffing the bottle. Others drink diluted apple cider vinegar in tea or warm water. The idea is that the strong odor and taste of apple cider vinegar can loosen mucus.
But there’s no evidence that this method works. Apple cider vinegar for postnasal drip has never been studied. Additionally, drinking apple cider vinegar can damage your teeth, especially if it’s undiluted.
If you want to use this remedy, do so with caution.
In addition to home remedies, you can try over-the-counter treatments. These remedies are available at the drugstore or grocery store without a prescription.
Dry out mucus with decongestants
Decongestants reduce mucus production by making your blood vessels smaller. Avoid using them too often, which can worsen congestion.
Thin out the mucus with expectorants
Expectorants reduce the viscosity, or thickness, of mucus. This makes it easier to cough out and clear your nasal passages.
Use saline nasal sprays
Saline nasal sprays moisturize your nasal passages, making it easier for mucus to drain. The spray can also clear out dust or pollen that may be causing irritation.
If your postnasal drip is due to allergies, antihistamines could help. They can also alleviate congestion, sneezing, and nasal swelling.
Avoid sedating antihistamines, as they thicken mucus even further. Choose non-drowsy antihistamines, which won’t produce this effect.
If your postnasal drip is due to a cold, the above home remedies will also treat your other symptoms. It’s also important to rest, stay hydrated, and eat healthy to help you body fight the infection.
Home remedies for postnasal drip and cough
Try these remedies for postnasal drip and cough:
- elevate your head
- drink fluids
- saltwater gargle
- use a humidifier
- avoid alcohol and cigarette smoke
Home remedies for postnasal drip and sore throat
To relieve postnasal drip and a sore throat:
- drink fluids
- gargle saltwater
- use a humidifier
- avoid alcohol and cigarette smoke
If home remedies don’t improve your postnasal drip, see a doctor.
Visit a doctor if you have:
- trouble swallowing
- bloody mucus
- chest pain
- smelly mucus
These symptoms may indicate a more serious cause of postnasal drip.
Typically, postnasal drip can be alleviated at home. Elevate your head at night to help mucus drain. You can also gargle saltwater, inhale steam, use a humidifier, and drink warm fluids. These remedies will thin mucus and moisturize your nasal passages.
If necessary, use OTC remedies in combination with home remedies. But if your postnasal drip gets worse or doesn’t go away, see a doctor. You should also get medical help if you have a fever, difficulty swallowing, and bloody or smelly mucus.