It's necessary to lubricate our membranes and help fight infection. We produce up to 1-2 quarts per day. Normally it is produced by the sinuses and nasal passages and we end up swallowing it or spitting it out. The problem arises when we produce too much of it or it becomes too thick. This is particularly a problem at night when we lie down and the mucous layers out in the back of the throat. Causes of thick and/or colored mucous are lack of hydration
, infection (nasal or sinus), allergies (allergic rhinitis), non allergic rhinitis (vasomotor, a sensitivity to environmental stimuli), and sometimes medications such as blood pressure
meds which work by eliminating water from our systems.
Treatment includes hydration and salt water rinses. Sometimes antihistamine
combinations are successful but can make one drowsy. Decongestants alone are sometimes successful but should be taken with care by people on heart/bp meds. Salt water rinses at night via netty pot or a water pick type apparatus are particularly helpful if one has had past nasal or sinus surgery
. Also, sometimes I have found that a very small amount of sea salt placed on the tip of the tongue has helped thin the mucous enough just prior to sleep
to allow throat comfort. If none of these seem to be be of help, an evaluation by an ENT doctor may be warranted to rule out a deviated septum, enlarged nasal turbinates, and/or sinus disease. Sometimes he/she will recommend a nasal steroid spray and possibly a work up for nasal/sinus allergies. Ultimately, a surgery on the septum and or turbinates to reduce their size may be of benefit. I hope this is of help.