If you are suffering from sinus drainage sore throat, then you will delight reading this article. We have highlighted common symptoms of sinus drainage and listed several treatment options as well as various home remedies that you may want to try.
Can Sinus Drainage Cause Sore Throat
You have been getting frequent sinus drainage, have woken up with a sore throat and are now wondering, “Can sinus drainage cause sore throat?”
Well, the answer is yes, post nasal drip can irritate your throat and trigger sore throat in addition to other symptoms such as coughing, nausea, and stomach upset among others.
We have talked more about sinus drainage sore throat in a subsequent section of this article.
Symptoms of Sinus Drainage in Throat
Symptoms of sinus drainage in throat varies widely depending on the underlying infections and problems. The most obvious symptom however, is a feeling of mucus draining or accumulating at the back of the throat which gives you the urge to clear the throat very frequently.
Other common symptoms of sinus drainage in throat are:
- Cough: Sinus drainage (post nasal drip) is the most common underlying factor for chronic cough according to the WebMD website.
- Sore throat
- Hoarseness of voice
Depending on the nature of your infection and the exact trigger of sinus drainage you may or may not experience some of the following symptoms:
- Ear infection and pain
- Nasal congestion
- Stomach upsets
Sinus Infection Sore Throat, Sore Throat from and Infected Sinus
Sinus infection, or sinusitis if you like, is typically painful and can cause you considerable discomfort. It occurs when sinuses – hollow cavities that occur in the skull around the forehead, cheekbone and nose areas – around your nose get irritated and swollen (inflamed).
Sinus infection is mostly caused by a virus but as The Healthline website points out, it can as well be caused by fungi or bacteria although this is rare.
Nasal polyps (non-cancerous growths in the nasal lining triggered by infections), tooth infection, and deviated septum (leading to congestion in the nasal passages) can also trigger sinus infection.
Sinus infection tends to linger on for longer even after other upper respiratory symptoms caused by the viral or bacterial attack have cleared. Some people wake up with sore throat in the morning because of gravity-driven flow of mucus to the throat as they sleep.
Sinus infection is often associated with sinus drainage (post nasal drip) which often causes in throat irritation that may then culminate in sore throat. Sore throat is as a matter of fact one of the most common symptoms of sinus infection. Sore throat is attributed to the fact that the mucus draining down the throat carries infection with it.
Other symptoms associated with sinus infection are headaches, fever, cough, bad breath, cough, and nasal congestion.
Sinus drainage sore throat starts as an annoying tickle in your throat, but gets progressively painful. It can in fact get very painful if the infection continues for more than a few weeks.
Sinus infection gets better without the need for treatment in most cases, but you can always improve the symptoms by gargling salty water – prepared by adding ½ teaspoon of water to 1 cup of warm water – and applying over-the-counter saline nasal sprays (irrigating your nostrils with salty water also works fine).
It is however advisable to seek medical attention if the symptoms last more than 10 days, you develop high fever (above 100.4° F according to the Center for Disease Control), or sinus infection seems to come back very often. The same case applies for children aged below 3 years.
If your doctor determines that sinus infection – and the sore throat associated with it – is triggered by bacterial infection, you will be prescribed with antibiotics.
Sinus Drainage in Throat
Sinus drainage in throat is that feeling that mucus is accumulating and flowing down at the back of your throat. This is also referred to as postnasal drip.
Your nose and throat linings are producing mucus throughout the day. Mucus keeps the nose and throat lining moist and also cleans the nasal passages by washing down bacteria, viruses, dust and other materials that can cause infections and allergies. It also moistens the air flowing through your nasal passages.
The mucus is typically swallowed without you ever noticing it – unless you of course think of it.
It however often happens that the amount of mucus flowing at the back of your throat increases or the mucus gets so thick. Both these scenarios can make you conscious of the mucus flow. This is what is described to as sinus drainage or more correctly as post nasal drip.
Sinus drainage in throat can occur the body’s natural response to an infection e.g. common cold, sinusitis, etc.; allergy, taking certain foods; certain medications; or hormonal changes at menopause and during pregnancy.
Dry weather e.g. in winter, can also cause sinus drainage. Extra mucus secretion is usually intended to flush out foreign bodies and remove blockage.
When sinus drainage in throat is triggered by factors such as allergy, pregnancy, and common cold, it is usually clear, thin and pretty runny, but when extreme dryness – e.g. when you are taking antidiuretic medications and when the air your breathe in your house lacks moisture as is common during winter months – it is typically thick and sticky.
Sinus Drainage Sore Throat Treatment
Effective sinus drainage sore throat treatment revolves all around addressing the underlying problem; post nasal drip. Sore throat and other symptoms associated with sinus drainage responds well in most cases to the following treatment options:
Antihistamines: Taking over-the-counter antihistamine medications is one of the first line treatment options for sinus drainage caused by allergy. The WebMD website recommends loratadine (Alavert, Claritin etc.), desloratadine (Clarinex), fexofenadine (Allegra), or cetirizine (Zyrtec).
Decongestants: A Short term use of decongestants (not for more than 3 days) helps to reduce inflammation and relieve the symptoms of sinus drainage.
The two most commonly used oral decongestants medications are phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine. These are available over-the-counter.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, prostate enlargement, and thyroid problems, it is advisable to talk to your doctor before taking decongestants.
As for nasal decongestant sprays, they vary from those containing naphazoline to those containing oxymetazoline, and xylometazoline as the active ingredients.
Saline nasal drops: This helps to flush out irritants from the nose and thin out the mucus.
Antibiotics: If your doctor finds that an infection is responsible for the sinus drainage, s/he will most likely prescribe some antibiotics.
Pain relievers: Over the counter pain relieving medications such as acetaminophen (look for Tylenol Sore Throat, or Tempra), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin etc.), and aspirin (Bayer) can also help with pain.
Aspirin should not be given to children under the age of 16 as it increases the risk of a rare, fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome which causes liver and brain inflammation. As for pregnant women, acetaminophen is generally recommended.
Surgical procedures: These are reserved as the last option for use when all other treatment options have failed to relieve the symptoms. It is also used for treatment of sinus drainage caused by structural defects such as nasal polyps and deviated septum (the thin cartilaginous tissue that occurs between the two nostrils).
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (where a small instrument to which a microscope has been fitted is used) is the most preferred surgical procedure today for its minimally-invasive nature, but Balloon catheter Dilation (where a small balloon is inflated, then deflated inside your nasal cavity) procedure is also catching on.
Home remedies for sinus drainage sore throat
- Take lots of fluids, including hot tea with honey, soup, and water. You should however stay away from sugary and sweetened fluids.
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom to increase humidity levels.
- Gargle warm, salty water at least 3 times every day until the symptoms have receded. A ratio of ½ teaspoon salt: 1 cup warm water is generally recommended.
- Avoid exposure to potentially offensive allergens and irritants such as pollen, molds, animal dander, chemicals, and smoke among others. This is especially important for sinus drainage – and thus sore throat – that is attributed to exposure to allergens
- Lean over a basin of hot water while draping yourself with a towel and inhale the steam coming up. Alternatively, take a hot shower and breathe in the warm, moist vapor. This not only helps to drain mucus from your sinuses and throat, but also relieve you of pain.
- Apply a warm compress (warm, damp cloth) on your face, paying close attention to the nose, cheeks and eyes. This helps to decongest the sinuses and alleviate symptoms of sinus drainage.
- Sleep with your head propped up against extra pillows or with small blocks of woods stashed below the front legs of your head to enhance sinus drainage and prevent buildup of mucus at the back of throat under gravity while you sleep.