Complications from postnasal drip might arise if there is excess production of mucus or it becomes thicker than normal. Mucus is produced by the nose to warm and clean the air being inhaled. This is swallowed to clean and moisten the back part of the throat.
Once the mucus starts to buildup in the throat, it can obstruct the larynx, trachea and/or bronchi. This affects the voice and makes it hard to swallow.
Difficulty swallowing is often aggravated among the elderly who have weak swallowing muscles. In case the throat is swollen or there are unusual growths in the throat, the signs of postnasal drip might worsen.
If there is excess buildup of mucus in the throat, there is an urge to cough to clear it out. If not treated, postnasal drip can trigger coughing that becomes chronic.
The coughing can be severe where it disrupts sleep or ability to work and can lead result to chest pain and cause difficulty in eating.
If postnasal drip is accompanied by an allergy or sinus infection, the mucus produced might be yellowish or greenish. This indicates the development of an infection that necessitates medical care.
Difficulty breathing due to postnasal drip
In severe cases of postnasal drip, it can cause issues with the vocal chords. The excess production of mucus can cause the vocal cords to constrict when attempting to breathe. This can trigger symptoms such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, choking, sensation of something stuck in the throat as well as chest and throat tightness.
Ear and sinus infections
In most instances, postnasal drip will not trigger any serious complications. Nevertheless, it might clog the Eustachian tube. Once this tube is obstructed, it can lead to chronic ear infections.