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How Do I Stop Excess Sinus Drainage?

Amy Hunter
Amy Hunter

There are a variety of reasons why someone may suffer from excess sinus drainage. Allergies as well as the common cold virus can lead to sinus drainage. The sinus cavities in your head are narrow passages. An excessive amount of drainage can be more than an annoyance. It can lead to painful sinus infections if the fluid builds up in these narrow passages and becomes infected.

You can use several techniques to reduce drainage. Some people believe that certain foods, such as dairy products, increase the amount of drainage that you produce. While there is little science to back this up, you may give it a try. Dairy products are one food product that many people are sensitive to, so cutting back may decrease the amount of drainage.

Drinking plenty of water is another cure that may help reduce sinus drainage. While the effectiveness of this is not proven either, in general, drinking plenty of water helps thin sinus secretions. This can lead to less noticeable drainage.

Drinking a glass of water can help clear sinuses.
Drinking a glass of water can help clear sinuses.

If you are suffering from sinus drainage severe enough to keep you awake at night or interfere with your eating habits, you may want to visit a physician. A simple antihistamine may be all that is required to dry up your sinuses. While many of these medications are available over the counter, a visit to the doctor before you begin long term use of any medication is generally a good idea.

Antihistamines can help with excessive sinus drainage.
Antihistamines can help with excessive sinus drainage.

Antihistamines are effective whether you are suffering from excessive drainage from a cold or allergies. They are generally considered safe, but can have side effects. Antihistamines are made to dry you out, and they are effective at that. Not only will they dry out your nose, but they can also dry out your mouth and eyes as well. These side effects are more of a nuisance than a real health threat.

Sinus cavity in human head.
Sinus cavity in human head.

Antihistamines can cause more significant health concerns in people that have elevated blood pressure or are taking other types of medications. For this reason, it is important that you tell your physician any over the counter or prescription medication that you are taking. If he believes that antihistamines will help treat your condition there are several he can try, and he can also monitor your condition.

What Causes Sinus Drainage and Postnasal Drip?

Sinus drainage is often a symptom of the common cold.
Sinus drainage is often a symptom of the common cold.

Sinuses are air pockets around the nose, forehead, and eyes that filter and regulate inhaled air temperature. Glands in the nose and throat produce mucus to moisturize and cleanse the sinuses. When glands produce extra mucus, you might feel it dripping from your nose down the back of your throat, a condition called postnasal drip. Excessive mucus could drain into your stomach, causing upset and health problems. In addition, having acid reflux or eating spicy food and dairy products can worsen sinus drainage.

Cutting back on dairy foods may decrease sinus drainage.
Cutting back on dairy foods may decrease sinus drainage.

Mucus helps protect the body’s respiratory and immune systems from viruses, allergens, pollutants and other foreign particles. For example, an irritant such as smoke may trigger a sneeze, which can expel debris from the nose. If you're allergic to animal dander, your nose and sinuses could react if a cat closely crosses your path.

Dealing With Excessive Mucus

Mucus can be thick or thin. When your sinuses become congested, mucus can cause breathing difficulty and areas of sensitivity around the nose and eyes. Congestion may be a temporary situation, but sometimes the mucus may not drain properly, resulting in more complicated symptoms.

As your body produces excessive mucus, you might need to clear your throat more often, which can lead to a sore throat, a hoarse voice and a sick feeling. You may try a range of home remedies and various over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms from excessive mucus, whether it’s in your sinuses and nose or has been draining into your stomach. If you’re troubled by chronic congestion, sinus drainage, nausea or other symptoms, ask a professional health care provider for treatment options.

Understanding Postnasal Drip

Throughout the day, mucus that drains through the nose or slides down your throat is hardly noticeable. Producing mucus and swallowing it are involuntary normal daily functions, and postnasal drip as a problem is common.

Conditions leading to postnasal drip include hay fever, rhinitis and infections, among other medical diagnoses. Humidity, indoor settings and weather are factors that affect your nasal and sinus systems, too. Postnasal drip also could be a side-effect of prescribed medication. A health care provider can decide on treatments when excessive mucus symptoms are tied to pregnancy, gastroesophageal reflux disease, infections or other medical conditions.

Can Sinus Drainage Cause Upset Stomach and Diarrhea?

Sinus drainage can lead to excessive mucus in your stomach, which is uncomfortable and disruptive to everyday activities. This condition may cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. More serious illnesses with postnasal drip, such as a cold, sinus infection or bacterial and viral infection, may also include vomiting and diarrhea.

 Can Sinus Drainage Cause Nausea?

When you swallow thick mucus, it can cause nausea and even vomiting. Nausea from sinus drainage can be worse at night and in the morning when the stomach is empty. Antacids may ease an upset stomach.

Treating Sinus Drainage Symptoms

Drinking water can help thin mucus and is among the many benefits that staying hydrated provides to increase and sustain well-being. Some other home remedies to address postnasal drip, sinus drainage and related nausea include:

  • Drink warm, thin liquids such as herbal teas, chicken soup or broth to soothe your throat
  • Use nasal sprays to avoid congestion
  • Sleep with your head slightly elevated to encourage mucus to flow out of your nose
  • Use a humidifier or a vaporizer to keep the air clean
  • Use a neti pot to rinse your sinuses
  • Steam your nasal passages in the shower or over a bowl of hot water while draping a towel over your head to clear your nose

Using Over-the-Counter Remedies

Some symptoms of postnasal drip, sinus drainage and nausea can be eased with changes in diet and lifestyle. For some, various foods may trigger sinus irritations. You can focus on reducing your symptoms by avoiding stress, adjusting your diet or trying antihistamines, decongestants or other over-the-counter medications. Antihistamines will help relieve a runny nose, itchy eyes and sinus issues, though following directions is important to avoid overuse.

Reactions to certain changes vary, so you should check how your body reacts to certain medicines, monitor the impact of beverages and drinks you consume and review your exposure to changes in environmental conditions. This process may take time. Remember that medical attention is appropriate in instances of persistent, chronic symptoms, including sinus drainage and stomachaches, as well as in cases of high fever.

If problems persist, with or without trying some home-based care, it’s time for you to check in with a physician or other health care professional.

Discussion Comments


When ever I get a lot of sinus drainage, my tummy starts to not feel good. It takes me a day to feel myself again.


This started about four months ago my nose drains a lot like at night especially when I wake up in the morning. It hasn't stopped and I have to hold my head a certain way all day and night.

I have to sleep with my head in a certain way and when I sit, I have to tilt my head a certain way and I can't bend over. Then it really drains. This is getting in the way at work and home. Like now when I'm on the computer, it's draining, and I have to tilt my head back and wait until it drains back into my head.

I just don't understand why it's like this. I can't afford to go to a specialist, but I see I have to do something.


I lived with sinus drainage symptoms for many years, even while taking a daily antihistamine that was supposed to last for twenty-four hours. I had a doctor tell me that I needed to switch up my medication every now and then, because my body would get used to it and it would stop working.

I tried doing this every six months, but still, I suffered from both sneezing and drainage. This time, I went back for a prescription medication.

My doctor gave me a combination antihistamine and decongestant, and that did the trick. The decongestant got the trapped mucus flowing, and the antihistamine prevented an excess from forming after that.

True, my sinuses were rather dry as a result, but I found a way around that. I used a humidifier, both in my office and in my bedroom at night, and it kept my sinuses moist.


@FirstViolin – It does sound like it's an allergy related problem. I've heard that eating local honey can help your immune system fight allergies.

If this works, then your drainage should end. I really don't know of anything besides allergies that can cause long-term drainage.


@orangey03 – I know what you mean! Having a cold is the worst.

It's the nasal sinus drainage that bothers me most, though. My nose becomes a faucet that I cannot turn off.

All I can do is plug my nostrils with tissue. I have to change the tissue out every fifteen minutes, because it becomes saturated with snot!


Throat sinus drainage is really gross. I don't have allergy issues, so I'm not used to it. Whenever I get a cold, I'm really appalled by the mucus dripping into my throat!

The bad thing is that no medication seems to work when my nose is this full of mucus and it is draining everywhere. Even good antihistamines are ineffective.

The only thing I can do to get any sleep at night is take a cold medicine that contains an antihistamine, a decongestant, and some alcohol to knock me out. By some miracle, I can sleep through the night, in spite of the drainage.

I am ready to pass out within minutes of taking this medicine, and it makes me forget about all that mucus in my throat. I have crazy, complicated dreams while on it, which makes sleeping more enjoyable than being awake during this time!


Does anybody know a non-drug way to get rid of chronic sinus drainage?

I always feel like I have sinus drainage in my throat, and it makes me feel like I have to clear my throat all the time.

Could this be allergies? If so, what are some good allergies sinus drainage remedies? I am really trying to avoid going on antibiotics, so natural remedies would be appreciated!


My wife gets sinus infections with ear pain a lot, and she usually has to get an antibiotic to help get rid of the drainage and pressure.

However, if you don't have too much ear pressure, or if you are waiting for the antibiotics, one stop-gap measure is to hold a hot washcloth to your ear -- that can kickstart the sinus drainage and ear pressure relief.


I get chronic sinus infections, so I am way too well-versed in sinus infection drainage.

One good home remedy to help the drainage come out is to take a really hot shower. The steam can get up in your head and help clear everything out.

While this usually turns out to be a temporary solution, especially in the case of severe sinus drainage, as anybody who gets these things knows, you'll be grateful for whatever sinus drainage relief you can get!

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    • Drinking a glass of water can help clear sinuses.
      By: studiovespa
      Drinking a glass of water can help clear sinuses.
    • Antihistamines can help with excessive sinus drainage.
      By: takasu
      Antihistamines can help with excessive sinus drainage.
    • Sinus cavity in human head.
      By: turhanerbas
      Sinus cavity in human head.
    • Sinus drainage is often a symptom of the common cold.
      By: Subbotina Anna
      Sinus drainage is often a symptom of the common cold.
    • Cutting back on dairy foods may decrease sinus drainage.
      By: lidante
      Cutting back on dairy foods may decrease sinus drainage.