This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.
So-called minor ailments can make life miserable, as one reader who suffers from post-nasal drip (PND) reports. ‘I‘m suffering badly from postnasal drip, with a constant trickle down the back of my throat which I can’t blow or cough out. I wake in the night coughing and hacking, and feel sick in the morning with the build-up of mucus. I tend to have a slight sore throat, occasionally very swollen. I would love to know of any alternative therapies so I can avoid the use of drugs.’
PND is a very common problem, says GP Dr Rob Hicks. It’s caused by lots of mucus accumulating in the back of the nose and then dripping down into the throat. To start with, there’s several simple household remedies to help the mucus drain more freely, which you can find in Dr Hicks’ book Old-Fashioned Remedies – From Arsenic to Gin (£14.99, pub Remember When), is to raise your bed head by putting a couple of thick books or bricks under the legs. Also put a bowl of water in rooms to increase moisture in the air, and/or a damp towel on radiators.
Excessive mucus production is often linked to chronic rhinitis, where the inner lining of the nose is inflamed, leading to symptoms including PND, as well as runny nose, nasal itching and congestion, and sneezing. Possible causes including allergies notably hay fever, indoor allergens (eg dust, animal hair and some household cleaners) and also acid-producing foods (as opposed to alkaline: this is a complex subject but the basic advice is to eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, with only moderate amounts of red meat and grains, coffee and alcohol).
Sinusitis can also provoke PND, as well as causing a feeling of congestion and often pain in the sinus areas of the face, around the cheekbones, nose, and middle forehead.
For post-nasal drip, clinical pharmacist Shabir Daya of Victoria Health, who specialises in natural remedies, suggests the following products:
- Marshmallow capsules by Power Health, £4.40 for 30 capsules, one three times daily. Marshmallow contains mucilages, long chain molecules, that sooth the inflamed mucus membranes and reduce the amount of mucus produced.
- Plantago Tincture by A Vogels, £9.15 for 50ml, 15 drops three times a day in a little water. Plantago helps break down the bonds that form mucus so easing its expulsion, as well as having mild antibacterial properties.
- Sinose Nasal Spray by Salcura, £10.30 for 50ml, spray the nasal cavity two or three times daily. Sinose contains Himalayan rock salt plus herbal extracts that calm the inflamed mucus membranes.
For sinusitis, Dr Hicks says that doctors are now less likely to prescribe antibiotics, instead advising on how to clear nasal passages. ‘Blow your nose gently – doing it forcefully risks sending mucus back into the sinuses. Inhale the steam over a bowl of very hot (not scalding) water with a few drops of menthol or eucalyptus oil.’ He also recommends using a seawater nasal spray (such as Sinose, above).
Shabir Daya finds these products help sinusitis:
- For acute sinusitis coupled with infection (when the discharge is usually greenish-yellow), Plantago Tincture, as above, 15 drops three times daily in water, with ten drops of Colloidal Silver Tincture, £13.65 for 59ml. Colloidal silver is antibacterial. Once the infection is gone, use the plantago alone. When symptoms start to subside, try taking plantago twice a day.
- Nasya Nasal Oil by Pukka Herbs, £11.25 for 30ml, these nasal drops, with ginger, radish and salt, help ease congestion.
The Talking Thermometer
My mummy tester’s children love the 3 in 1 Family Talking Thermometer by Tenscare, which works on forehead and in the ear and speaks their temperature in celsius or fahrenheit, and in five language options. ‘Trying to wedge a thermometer in the armpit of a sick child used to be a struggle but is now a painless game. It has a light too, so you can use it at night without waking them. When not in use, it sits in its cradle giving a room temperature reading,’ she says. According to NHS Direct, for children under five, a fever (high temperature) is over 37.5C (99.5F); for five and over, it’s 38C (100.4F) or over . Contact your GP if your child has a temperature in addition to other signs of illness. Tenscare Family Talking Thermometer £34.99.
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