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Dairy Products & Sinus Drainage

author image Diane Marks
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dairy Products & Sinus Drainage
Dairy products may cause sinus drainage if you have an allergy. Photo Credit: Sebalos/iStock/Getty Images

Dairy products have been blamed for excess mucus production in the sinuses, but milk does not increase sinus drainage. If you develop sinus drainage after consuming dairy products, you may have a minor milk allergy. Sinus drainage either flows out of your nostrils, which is called a runny nose, or down the back of your throat, which is called post-nasal drip. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms. Stop consuming dairy products if you develop other symptoms, such as shortness of breath of diarrhea.

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Dairy and Mucus

According to a pediatric practice, Andorra Pediatrics, supporting evidence that nasal congestion or drainage is a result of consuming milk products does not exist. Although it’s a popular belief that drinking milk can increase mucus secretions, leading to drainage, medical research does not support these claims. If you develop significant congestion as a result of consuming dairy products, you may have a hypersensitivity to the proteins in milk that can trigger inflammation and increased mucus production in your nasal passages. Your doctor may recommend allergy testing to diagnose and treat your symptoms.


If you’re allergic to milk, your immune system malfunctions when it comes in contact with milk proteins. Casein and whey proteins enter the blood stream and immune system cells wrongfully identify the proteins as harmful. The result of this mistake is the formation of immunoglobulin E antibodies that attempt to fight them. As a result, the immune system triggers the production of histamine, a chemical in the body that fights against infection. Too much histamine causes blood vessels to dilate, stimulates mucus membranes, and irritates soft tissue. These actions can cause sinus congestion and drainage to occur within a few minutes of ingesting dairy products.

Sinus Drainage

Sinus drainage is commonly accompanied with nasal congestion. Congestion is the result of inflammation and swelling of the soft tissues that make the sinus cavities. Congestion can cause sinus headaches, sinus pressure, facial tenderness and the inability to breathe through your nostrils. Sinus drainage is the constant drainage of mucus out of the nostrils or down the back of the throat. Post-nasal drip is the medical term used to describe the dripping of mucus down the throat that can cause bad breath, throat irritation and constant coughing.


Sinus drainage that’s related to a milk allergy is treated by eliminating all dairy products from your diet. Sinus drainage may be treated with antihistamine and nasal decongestants. Talk with your doctor before using any over-the-counter medication.

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