For more than 30 years I've been plagued by post-nasal drip, throat-clearing, coughing, belching and sinusitis. I'm 58 years old.
It took only a few years to control the heartburn and belching - by eating less.
I've lived with regular expressions of disgust from family, members of the public and colleagues. I've been asked, 'Do you have a cold?' more often than the Iceman.
35 years ago I had chronic tonsillitis so they were removed, as were my adenoids and appendix. My nose cavity was surgically enlarged at the same time, which was broken falling off a cupboard when I was 2 and untreated.
Then I tried going off dairy products and becoming vegetarian. That didn't work.
Later, I got myself tested for food allergies and tried avoiding things like gluten. That didn't help much.
An MRI discovered a Sliding Hiatus Hernia (the skin connecting the oesophagus and stomach to the diaphragm stretches) which causes the stomach to slide up into the lower-pressure area of the lung cavity. But no one associated that with my throat.
Thinking it was an immuno-deficiency problem, I watched my diet, fluids and exercise, which is why I'm so hot-looking at almost 60, lol.
Following this train of thought (and a 2-year bout of chronic fatigue syndrome - CFS), I saw naturopaths, chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists and dieticians. I started taking some anti-aging supplements. I fasted and did cleansing diets. Some of it helped and I've learnt a lot and picked up some useful habits. But the sinusitis, post-nasal drip, throaty-clearing and coughing persisted.
A few years ago I got a total dental revision done to remove mercury amalgams, and infected root canal teeth, followed by a year-long, rigorous cleansing diet. That helped a bit.
But more recently the problem has gotten worse. I would cough my way through the day. My neighbours knew I when I was out in the garden. People knew I was coming before they saw me. People's heads would turn in public more often.
I had sinusitis more often. A good, temporary solution is a bowl of hot water and essential oils to soothe, clear and moisten the sinuses with steam - use a towel over your head. But that's only temporary relief.
Finally I decided to take two courses of antibiotics to get rid of the sinusitis. With them cleared, I could eliminate it as a cause of the post nasal drip, throat-clearing and coughing, which lingered.
In the end, I have self-diagnosed the problem correctly, despite all these years of consulting doctors and natural therapists. It's laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), a type of GERD (gastroeosophagael reflux disease), caused by the hiatus hernia allowing gastric fluids to creep up the oesophagus without any noticeable heartburn and irritating the throat region. Untreated, it can lead to Barret's Disease and cancer of the oesophagus. I am due to go to hospital for an endoscopy for a check up.
By the way, I also self-cured the CFS 25 years ago.
LPR is not easily diagnosed because there a numerous other conditions that can cause the same symptoms. They have to be eliminated first.
Sliding hiatus hernia is not uncommon, as is post-nasal drip. Mine is congenital - my brother has it and my mother did, too.
Lesson of the story? Care about yourself. Do your own research. Use your intuition and intelligence. Utilize the medical professions but don't rely on them.
The treatment for LPR is usually a life-long prescription of PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) that reduce the mix of acidic fluid in the stomach. Now why would I want to interfere with what my beautiful stomach is doing a good job of producing, to break down food? You see? Traditional Western medicine is so lineal and logical, that it focuses on solving one problem, while causing another one! My doctor conceded this; that it changes the balance of chemicals and vitamins in the intestinal system and that there are side-effects, but only, I suspect, because I pointed out the conundrum. PPIs are not a long-term solution. Antireflux surgery is another option, which the endoscopy will help decide, but it is not always successful or long-term, either.
I went to a great health food shop called GoVita (yeah, I don't mind giving them a plug) where a young woman with obvious, encyclopaedic knowledge, recommended enzymes tablets to help digestion when reflux occurs. She was all over it. I found another solution online - licorice root. Taken as tea (not expensive) or chewable tablets so that it lingers around the throat and slowly makes its way down the oesophagus all the while soothing and calming it. This seems to be helping a lot.
If you've got this problem, I hope this story helps you find a solution.