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What is catarrh?

Catarrh is a common condition but can be described as a number of different things, such as:

  • The feeling of mucus at the back of your nose
  • A build-up of phlegm in your throat
  • A continuous desire to clear your throat

Most people will experience catarrh as a symptom of the common cold, which alleviates quite quickly, but others can suffer from it more persistently and for several years at a time. Chronic catarrh can feel like constantly having a cold without any of the other usual symptoms.

Two types of catarrh have been identified:

  • An excess of mucus that runs out of your nose (rhinitis)
  • A sensation of an excess of mucus that you are unable to clear from your nose or throat.

What are the causes of catarrh?

Research has suggested that catarrh is not related to allergy or any kind of abnormality in the way mucus is transported within the nose. A possible cause is more likely to be an abnormality of the feeling in the lining in the back of the nose and throat, which explains why many patients feel unable to clear the mucus that they sense in their throat.

What are the symptoms of catarrh?

Aside from the feeling of mucus in the back of the nose or throat, there are a number of other symptoms of catarrh, including:

  • a sensation of nasal congestion
  • ineffective nose blowing
  • throat discomfort
  • crackling or dragging sensation in the ears
  • a sensation of choking or something stuck in the throat
  • a constant cough or of feeling sick

How is catarrh diagnosed?

As catarrh is not caused by an actual disease, but simply a sensation that you feel, there is no specific test use to diagnose it.

How is catarrh treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic catarrh. Some sufferers find partial relief from their symptoms by using saline nasal rinses, which can be purchased over the counter or made at home. These need to be used regularly (3-4 times a day) and for a long period of time. Those who also have a runny nose will find a steroid nasal spray helps their symptoms.

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