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- Where are the sinuses, and what do they look like?
- What are rhinitis and post-nasal drip?
- What causes rhinitis?
- Is rhinitis always related to allergies?
- What conditions cause an abnormal production of nasal secretions?
- What conditions cause an impaired clearance of nasal secretions?
- How can chronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip be treated?
- What medications can be used to treat rhinitis and post-nasal drip?
- What can be used to treat non-allergic rhinitis?
- Does salt water or nasal irrigation have any role in the treatment of rhinitis and post-nasal drip?
- What are other options for the treatment of rhinitis and post-nasal drip?
Quick GuideSinusitis Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
What conditions cause an abnormal production of nasal secretions?
The following conditions are often associated with increased nasal drainage (runny nose). It is common to have more than one factor involved in a particular individual.
- Cold temperatures
- Certain foods or spices
- Pregnancy or hormonal changes
- Drug side-effects (particularly certain high blood pressure medications)
- Structural problems (deviated septum, large turbinates)
- Vasomotor rhinitis (an abnormal regulatory problem with the nose)
Decreasing the fluid content of the mucus usually thickens the secretions leading to the impression of increased mucus. The following may cause thickened secretions:
- Low humidity
- Sinus or nasal infections
- Foreign bodies (especially if the drainage is from one side)
- Environmental irritants (tobacco smoke, smog)
- Structural problems (deviated septum, enlarged turbinates, enlarged adenoids)
- Advanced age - mucus membrane lining the nose can shrink with age leading to a reduced volume of secretions that are thicker
- Hormonal problems
- Drug side-effects (antihistamines)
What conditions cause an impaired clearance of nasal secretions?
The primary reason for impaired clearance of nasal secretions within the nasal cavities is from smoking. Smoking impairs the movement of the cilia (microscopic hairs) and their ability to push the secretions out of the nasal cavity to be swallowed. Other conditions that can impact clearance of secretions in the nose include allergies and some genetic disorders.
Swallowing problems can make it difficult to clear normal secretions from the back of the throat. This may result in the accumulation of material in the throat, which can spill into the voice box, causing hoarseness, throat clearing, or cough. The following factors can contribute to swallowing problems:
- Advancing age: This will lead to decreased strength and coordination in swallowing.
- Stress: Stress leads to muscle spasm or "lump in throat." Also a nervous habit of frequent throat clearing will make the situation worse.
- Narrowing of the throat due to tumors or other conditions: This will impair the passage of food.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Nerve or muscle disorders: (stroke, and muscle diseases, etc.)