How Can I Stop Clearing My Throat During Sleep

General ENT care, Nasal Irrigation, Post Nasal Drip,
post nasal drip at night
Image Source: buzzle.com

My neighbour Dr. Chang, a paediatric, mentioned to me one weekend during our hike that his mother, who is in her mid 70s, hasn’t been able to sleep well at night for the past 10 years. In the following week, I met Mrs. Chang as she came to visit her son. After I greeted her I thought of what Dr. Chang mentioned, so simply out of curiosity I asked: “What is it that is annoying you during sleep? And what do you do to fall asleep?”

She told me that her throat always felt itchy and sticky as if something got stuck in her throat every time after she laid down for about 5 minutes. She felt hard to breathe and always had to clear her throat to cough it out; but the same stickiness comes back after she lay down again. So the only way for her to fall asleep was to take a sleeping pill every single night for the past 10 years.

“Oh…” I thought. A typical case of post nasal drip, and a very common symptom that many people fail to realize or know about. Everyone knows that mucus inside our nose (nasal cavity) flows downward; that is, out from our nostrils, most of the time. However, when we lay down, downward no longer means our nostrils, but instead the mucus will flow down through pharynx to the tip of our throat. What’s worse is that the mucus just hangs there; to simply swallow it is difficult because the mucus is like a continuous strap, and if you want clear your throat to spit it out, yes you’ll need to get out of your bed and walk to that sink over there.

I then recommended her to try using pulsatile nasal sinus irrigator to nasal irrigate every night; about half an hour before she sleeps. Pulsatile nasal sinus irrigation can effectively rinse out the excessive mucus and therefore prevents the post nasal drip which disturbs her when she sleeps. The gentle water pulse also helps to massage the membrane inside nasal cavity, and restore healthy movement of nasal mucociliary. Pulsatile nasal irrigation helps to keep our nasal cavity clean and healthy, just like one brushes teeth to keep oral cavity clean and healthy.

After a week, Mrs. Chang called my office and told me that the pulsatile nasal irrigation method worked for her. She was able to fall asleep easily as she no longer has that irritation coming from her throat; no more clearing her throat during sleep. Until today, she hasn’t taken another dose of sleeping pill; finally off the medicine hook.

Dr. Hung C.