For most of us, a cough seems to be associated with having a cold or irritation in the throat. It’s what we have been taught our whole lives; but what if a cough was the result of something other than just a cold? It may be hard to determine but coughing may be the outcome of excess mucus dripping down the back of the throat – post nasal drip.
Post Nasal Drip or Cold: How to Tell the Difference
To tell the difference between the common cold and an underlying sinus issue, attention can be focused on the feeling of the cough and if there are any other accompanying symptoms. When post nasal drip is present, the cough typically feels “wet.” You can actually spit up something you can see. This is a result of the mucus dripping down the throat. In addition to the type of cough, it is not uncommon to feel as though there is something stuck in the throat. Constantly clearing the throat, as opposed to fully coughing is another sign of post nasal drip rather than the common cold.
Post Nasal Drip or Cold: Mucus
Another symptom is the color of the mucus in the throat. Excess mucus is produced to help fight against foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, allergens, and infections. To some extent, the color of the mucus can help show what their body is fighting. If it has discoloration (i.e, yellow, green, slightly brown, or even slightly bloody) it is likely that there is a sinus infection the body is trying to fight. By producing excess mucus, the body is essentially trying to protect the respiratory tract from getting infected as well.
Treatment and When to Consult a Doctor
The common cold and sinus issues can be difficult to differentiate. It is always best to consult a doctor for what health issue is underlying and what treatment would be best. The common cold typically lasts a week or so for adults. To help shorten the time or lessen the intensity of the cold, people can take over the counter cough medicine, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of rest. If the symptoms persist, it is important to visit a doctor. With sinus problems, over the counter medications and sprays may provide temporary relief but seeing a health care provider is the best way to determine a course of action. Whether it be over the counter medication, antibiotics, or even long term fixes with minimally invasive procedures like the balloon sinuplasty, a doctor can lead a patient in the right direction.
It is important to listen to the body’s signs and address any persisting health issues. Paying attention to any and all symptoms and consulting a doctor can help people get on the road to a healthy and clear life. When it comes to post nasal drip it could indicate a more pressing issue. As the old saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”