If you have GERD and post nasal drip (cough), you may wonder if they both are connected. So, let’s look into these conditions and if there is any link between them.

What is post nasal drip?

Most of the time, every one of us swallows mucus without even realizing it. However, when the body starts producing extra mucus, one might feel it accumulates in the back of the throat. It feels like it is dripping downwards from nose to throat. This occurrence is known as the postnasal drip.

Postnasal drip affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. The glands (throat and nose) continuously produce mucus because of the following reasons:

  • To keep nasal membranes moist 
  • To flight infection 
  • To filter out the foreign particles 

Common symptoms of postnasal drip may include: 

  • Bad breath 
  • Sore throat 
  • Scratchy throat 
  • Nausea from excess mucus production 
  • A constant feeling to clear your throat or swallow 
  • Cough that is worse at night 

Causes of postnasal drip:

There are a vast number of reasons that can cause postnasal drip. The most common reasons are allergies and deviated septum (thin wall of cartilage between your nostrils leans to one side). 

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While other causes of postnasal drip include:

  • Spicy food 
  • Dry air 
  • Sinus infections 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Viral infections 
  • Certain medications 
  • Cold temperatures 

In some cases, the body does not produce too much mucus; however, the mucus is not cleared, and it may occur with age, or a blockage or because of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which may cause postnasal drip. 

What is GERD?  What is Gastroesophageal reflux disease?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a digestive disorder that affects the muscle (lower esophageal sphincter – LES) between the esophagus and stomach. Normally, the LES opens, allowing the food to enter the stomach and closes. Thus, closing prevents food and stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. However, in GERD, the LES muscle is weak and does not close properly, resulting in the stomach’s content flowing through the esophagus and damaging the esophagus lining, causing reflux. 

Common symptoms of GERD include: 

  • A burning sensation in your chest that usually occurs after eating
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid 
  • Chronic cough 
  • Chest pain 
  • Difficulty in swallowing 
  • Disrupted sleep 
  • A sensation of a lump in your throat 
  • Nausea bad breath 

Are post nasal drip and gastroesophageal reflux disease related?

GERD or acid reflux can cause post nasal drip. Usually, when the body produces too much mucus in postnasal drip, it feels like it accumulates in the throat. However, when a person suffers from GERD, it does not produce too much mucus; instead, the mucus is not cleared.

Chronic post nasal drip and GERD

In some individuals, the symptoms of GERD may imitate some of the symptoms of sinusitis (a condition where the cavities around the nasal passage become inflamed). The sensation of postnasal drip and urge to clean the throat could be either of postnasal drip or GERD. 

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Acid reflux can also contribute to sinusitis, inflaming the nasal passage. However, this problem is more common in children than adults. 

GERD and post nasal drip cough

Stomach acid is highly irritating to body tissues except for the stomach. This irritation in the back of your throat and food pipe may cause post nasal drip. It may also cause a sore throat and persistent cough.

To manage postnasal drip cough due to GERD, avoid eating before bedtime and sleep in an elevated position instead of lying flat. Also, avoid trigger foods such as soda pop, chocolate, or spicy foods.

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