Why do I have mucous buildup in my throat?
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
You can get mucus in the throat from:
  • Nasal problems
  • Sinus infections
  • Swallowing disorder
  • Acid reflux (GERD)
Also some people produce excess saliva or can't swallow normally. This excess saliva can result in mucus collecting in the throat.

Mucus that drains backward from the nose is called postnasal drip. It can be caused by allergies (hay fever) or a viral infection, such as the common cold. Some people develop postnasal drip without having allergies or an infection. This is called vasomotor rhinitis.

People with sinus infections produce a lot mucus inside the sinus. This mucus can drip down and collect in the throat.

Normally, we are constantly swallowing saliva and small amounts of mucus. If you have a swallowing disorder, saliva and mucus will stay in the mouth and throat rather than moving down into the esophagus.

Acid reflux up to the throat can stimulate mucus production.

You can treat allergic and vasomotor rhinitis with:
  • Nasal irrigations
  • Inhaled steroid nasal sprays
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Or any combination of the above
Sinus infections can often be cured with the same treatments used for rhinitis. Persistent sinus infections may need antibiotics.

GERD usually gets better with dietary measures, not lying down after eating and, acid-suppressive therapy. You can also elevate the head of the bed to decrease acid reflux and mucus in the throat.

Treatment of swallowing disorders may include special instructions on head position with swallowing and dietary changes.

To find out what the problem is, visit your doctor to review the above possibilities. After examining you, your doctor may also suggest x-rays to check out your sinuses or swallowing process.

Once there is a diagnosis, treatment is usually successful.

Continue Learning about Throat Disorders

Throat Disorders

Throat Disorders

Disorders of the throat may be caused by inflammation, infection, or growths such as polyps, ulcers or even cancerous tumors. Throat problems are very common, especially in young children. A sore throat is usually minor and may go ...

away on its own. However, some sore throats can be caused by a streptococcus (usually called just strep) bacteria and may require an antibiotic. If you see white patches on the back of your throat, you should suspect strep throat and see your doctor. If you have a lump or sore that doesn't go away, trouble swallowing or hoarseness and especially if you smoke and drink alcohol, you may be at risk for throat or mouth cancers. If found early these kinds of cancers are often curable. See your doctor to get the right diagnosis.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.