Glands in the throat and nose naturally produce secretions. One to two quarts per day of mucus are typically produced daily, working to moisten and clean the nasal membranes, clear out infection and foreign matter, and humidify inhaled air.

Sometimes normal secretions are too thin or too thick. Thin mucus can be the result of a cold, flu, allergies, medications, pregnancy, hormonal changes, cold temperatures, and/or an irregular septum (the wall dividing the two nostrils).

Thick mucus may be the result of sinus infection, food allergies, and/or too much dryness in heated buildings during winter. For children, thick secretions from a single nostril can indicate something stuck in the nostril, such as a small toy or piece of food. If you suspect something is trapped in a child’s nostril, seek the help of a pediatrician or ear, nose, and throat doctor.

Post-nasal drip can often lead to a sore or scratchy throat. Even if there is no infection, post-nasal drip can cause the tonsils and throat to swell, causing discomfort and the feeling that something is stuck in the throat.

Depending on the cause of the post-nasal drip and whether the mucus is unusually thin or thick to determine how the symptoms are treated. If the cause of the post-nasal drip cannot be determined, your doctor may share ways to make the mucus pass more easily, such as drink more water and removing caffeine from the diet. An over-the-counter saline nasal spray may be used to help the process.

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