Catarrh is a build-up of mucus in an airway or cavity of the body.
It usually affects the back of the nose, the throat or the sinuses (air-filled cavities in the bones of the face).
It’s often temporary, but some people experience it for months or years. This is known as chronic catarrh.
Catarrh can be a nuisance and may be difficult to get rid of, but it’s not harmful and there are treatments available.
Symptoms associated with catarrh
Catarrh can lead to a:
constant need to clear your throat
feeling that your throat is blocked
blocked or stuffy nose that you can’t clear
feeling of mucus running down the back of your throat
headache or facial pain
reduced sense of smell and taste
crackling sensation in your ear and some temporary hearing loss
These problems can be frustrating to live with and may affect your sleep, making you feel tired.
Treatments for catarrh
There are things you can try at home to relieve your symptoms, such as:
avoiding things that trigger your symptoms, such as allergens or smoky places
taking sips of cold water when you feel the need to clear your throat –constantly clearing your throat may make things worse.
Using a saline nasal rinse several times a day – these can be bought from a pharmacy or made at home with half a teaspoon of salt in a pint of boiled water that’s been left to cool,
avoiding warm, dry atmospheres, such as places with air conditioning and car heating systems – placing plants or bowls of water in a room may help to keep the air humid
staying well hydrated
talking to a pharmacist about suitable over-the-counter medications –including decongestants, antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays
For more information visit NHS choices.