Gastro Oesophageal Reflux (GERD) and Its Link to Post Nasal Drip
If you have always had sinus problems, your throat is irritated in the mornings when you wake up and your nose is always running, you may be suffering from Post Nasal Drip (PND) that arises from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Typically, people who suffer from GERD experience heightened symptoms after a long night’s sleep. The PND that is caused by this acid reflux irritates the throat and results in chronic cough and other problems caused by the inflammation of the sinuses or nasal passages. Treating GERD often leads to immediate relief.
PND occurs when mucus starts dripping onto sensitive nerves of the respiratory system. The throat, windpipe, voice box and lungs are organs that contain sensitive nerves. When this happens, the patient experiences bouts of cough. When the cough lasts for more than three weeks, it is called chronic cough. One of the most common causes of chronic cough is Post Nasal Drip.
What is GERD?
GERD or Gastro esophageal reflux disease is a condition wherein the liquid in the stomach that helps digest food, backs up into the esophagus. When this liquid ‘refluxes’ in this way, the lining of the esophagus is damaged. The backed up liquid usually contains stomach acids (mainly hydrochloric acid) that have a corrosive effect on the sensitive nerves present in the lower esophagus. Some of these nerves provoke coughing while others link back to other nerves leading to the lungs. Damage or irritation to the nerves leading to the lungs can give rise to several symptoms that mimic sinus infections, including coughing.
In GERD patients, the hydrochloric acid in the stomach liquid turns into gas because of digestive imbalances in the body and moves upward towards the throat and head areas, thus filling sinus cavities. The moist air trapped in these cavities mixes with the gaseous HCL and this corrosive mixture irritates the sensitive tissues in the sinus cavities. This, in turn, results in inflammation and leads to many of the symptoms that are faced during a sinus infection. It also triggers off excessive mucus production that leads to PND. In PND, the constant dripping down of mucus leads to throat irritation or cough.
Any remedy for GERD usually takes care of acid reflux PND too. Many people who complain of PND cough in the early mornings find that giving some time between their meals at night and bedtime is often a simple and effective remedy. However, not all cases of GERD triggered PND are as easy to resolve. Antibiotics, anti-decongestants, antacids and acid control medication may be recommended by physicians to address problems in those people who suffer from severe cases of acid reflux.