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What Are the Causes of Chronic Sinus Drainage?

author image Emily DeSerio
Emily DeSerio has been a freelance writer since November 2009. DeSerio works in the mental health field as a clinical social worker. She began her higher level education at the University of South Florida (USF) with a B.A. in English and went on to complete a Master of Social Work degree at USF as well.
What Are the Causes of Chronic Sinus Drainage?
Hay fever, caused by seasonal allergies, is a common cause of chronic sinus drainage.

Chronic sinus drainage manifests itself in two ways: a runny nose or postnasal drip. Postnasal drip is a condition where thin nasal secretions drip in the back of the throat, leading to a sore throat, coughing and an upset stomach, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Chronic sinus drainage is the result of hay fever, chronic sinusitis or physical complications. Most cases of chronic sinus drainage are treatable with either medication or, in extreme cases, surgery.

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Hay Fever

Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is a common condition that results from seasonal outdoor or indoor allergens. People suffering from hay fever develop similar symptoms of the common cold but is the result of an allergic reaction, not a viral infection. One of the most common symptoms of hay fever is sinus drainage. A person may experience hay fever year-round, resulting in consistent nasal discharge. Sinus drainage resulting from hay fever will be thin and clear. If the mucus becomes thick and yellowish-green in color, seek medical advice because it may be a sinus infection. Hay fever is treated with either over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines or prescribed nasal sprays.

Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is a sinus infection lasting more than eight weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic. A common symptom of a chronic sinus infection is nasal congestion and excess mucus. A person suffering from chronic sinusitis may experience excessive sneezing, a runny nose and postnasal drip. Chronic sinusitis is treated with various methods depending on its cause. If it is the result of a bacteria infection, antibiotics are the first line of treatment. If it is the result of physical complications, surgery may be offered as a solution. To reduce swelling in the sinuses, many people take an OTC decongestant, such as pseudoephedrine, coupled with an anti-inflammatory pain reliever, such as ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor before taking any medication.

Physical Complications

The American Rhinologic Society states that nasal polyps are a common cause of chronic post-nasal drip. Nasal polyps are small growths that develop along the sinus cavity wall, restricting normal nasal discharge. This clogging leads to mucus dripping in the back of the throat. Minor nasal polyps may be treated with medication while more severe cases may require surgery. Another common physical complication is a crooked nasal wall called a deviated septum. A deviated septum is the result of abnormal formation during physical development or from a facial injury.

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