Can Post-Nasal Drip Develop into Bronchitis and Pneumonia?

In case you were unaware, post-nasal drip is a condition where excess mucus is produced within the sinus cavities and nasal passages. As the mucous membrane continues to produce beyond the normal required levels, it causes the sufferer to endure mucus in the throat and towards the back of the nose.

Post-Nasal Drip Causes – Why does the mucous membrane suddenly start producing too much mucus for our sinuses to handle? Typically, a health issue will be to blame whether this is sinusitis, rhinitis, or possibly certain allergies. After this, a smaller pool of people will experience this problem when the weather changes from one season to the next or even when their hormones fluctuate; the latter is common during pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation.

Post-Nasal Drip Symptoms – For the most part, the sufferer is likely to notice a sore throat, some coughing, and a constant need to clear the throat. As the mucus becomes more prominent, it can be somewhat difficult to swallow and the back-up causes congestion within the nasal passages which, in turn, causes a blocked and ‘heavy’ feeling. Of course, there may also be mucus towards the back of the throat.

Post-Nasal Drip Treatment – Before we head into our main topic, we should also point out that there are various solutions to this particular problem depending on the extent. For example, antibiotics will commonly be used as a starting point before considering bulb syringes, neti pots, and surgery. Although surgery isn’t the ideal solution, there is a minor procedure that can achieve the main goal should the rinsing techniques fail.

Pneumonia and Bronchitis

As you can tell from the title of this guide, we want to talk about two lower respiratory diseases today in pneumonia and bronchitis. Typically, these two health conditions affect breathing because they impact the airways or the lungs themselves. With post-nasal drip, this is considered an ‘upper respiratory disease’ because it’s located within the nose, throat and sinuses. With that being said, is there a correlation between the three? Can an upper respiratory disease develop into a lower respiratory disease?

Pneumonia – As a serious health condition, pneumonia is essentially an infection that attacks the alveolar tissue within the lungs. As the lungs fill with liquid, their oxygen output is hampered and the body cells can’t operate as they should. As the overall oxygen levels decrease, this leads to chest pain, fever, headaches, wheezing, tiredness, a lack of energy, coughing, and a shortness of breath.

Bronchitis – On the other hand, bronchitis is an inflammation in the airways. This leads to an overproduction of mucus which then blocks the bronchi in the mucous membrane. Even today, bronchitis is often a misinterpreted problem because it can disappear within ten days or it can be life-threatening.

When assessing the two health conditions, pneumonia and bronchitis, people often get the two mixed up because bronchitis can also go on to damage cells and decrease the oxygen levels within the body. Therefore, it causes many of the same symptoms even though the early stages are very different.

As mentioned, chronic (as opposed to acute) bronchitis can threaten a life if several attacks take place over a short time. When in a hospital, oxygen is given to patients to compensate for the impact of the pneumonia or bronchitis.

Relationship Between Sinus Conditions and Bronchitis/Pneumonia

When you have a viral infection, this could start with a runny nose, irritation in the throat, nasal discharge, and post-nasal drip. As the problem gets more serious, this is where the connection comes to the fore. With bronchitis, excess mucus production can occur as the glands are affected by the inflammation within the bronchial airways. From here, this leads to sputum as well as a cough which is linked back to upper respiratory diseases.

Coughing Blood – At first, bronchitis can look and feel like an upper respiratory disease. Soon enough, the infection gets worse and the sufferer coughs up thick mucus. Sometimes, this mucus can be streaked with blood and this is where the mucus membranes have been damaged. If you’ve had a cough for more than ten days while also experiencing difficulty breathing and chest pain, we highly advise you visit a doctor.

Collapsed Lungs – Since bronchitis severely affects the air passing through the lungs, dehydration can be an issue as well as blocked airways from thick bronchial secretions. Unfortunately, this has the potential to lead to respiratory failure, pneumonia, and collapsed lungs. If both lungs are having trouble, this could be double pneumonia and a hospital stay is required immediately because oxygen in the blood will be low, blood pressure can drop significantly, and vomiting can also cause issues.

Whooping Cough – Within the respiratory tract, whooping cough is a contagious disease caused by bacterium inside the throat, nose, and mouth. Without vaccines, it would still be one of the largest medical issues in the world.

Walking Pneumonia – Finally, the germ Mycoplasma causes walking pneumonia which is not normally seen as a serious problem. Once again, vaccines and antibiotics have prevented millions of deaths here.


As you can see, there are similarities between sinus conditions and lower respiratory diseases and this is why they’re so commonly linked. With the symptoms causing other issues in the respiratory system, starting with one condition can very quickly lead to more serious health concerns.

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