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Sinus Infections and Asthma

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Can Postnasal Drip Trigger Asthma?

Postnasal drip is a lay term that refers to the sensation of thick phlegm in the throat, which can become infected. Your glands in the nose and throat produce mucus continuously (1 to 2 pints per day), that helps to cleanse the nasal membranes, helps warm the air you breathe, and traps inhaled foreign matter. Mucus also helps to fight infection.

In normal situations, the throat is moistened by the secretions from the nasal and throat mucous glands. This is part of the mucous-nasal cilia system that defends us from disease. When the amount of liquid secreted by the nose and sinus is reduced and the cilia of the nose and sinus slow down, the fluid thickens and you become very aware of its presence. Because the thick phlegm is unpleasant and often infected, our bodies naturally try to get rid of it by causing us to cough and clear our throats.

Sometimes, postnasal drip syndrome is associated with asthma, as the thick mucus secretions drain from the back of the nose to the back of the throat, causing throat clearing, cough, and bronchial constriction.

How Can You Prevent Sinusitis?

There's no sure-fire way of preventing sinusitis. But there are some things you can do to lower your risk:

  • Use regular steroid sprays to prevent further sinus infections. This is particularly important if you've had recurrent or chronic sinusitis.
  • Avoid allergens and irritants, if you have allergies.
  • Take your asthma medication as recommended. Keeping your asthma symptoms under control can reduce your risks of developing serious sinusitis.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on May 18, 2014
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