Can dairy trigger sinus drainage?

Dairy products are responsible for the excess production of mucus in the sinuses, but milk will not increase sinus drainage. If the individual develops sinus drainage after ingestion of dairy products, he/she might have a minor allergy to milk.

Sinus drainage can either flow out of the nostrils which is called runny nose or down the rear part of the throat which is called postnasal drip. It is best to set an appointment with a doctor to discuss the symptoms. In addition, cease the consumption of dairy products if symptoms develop such as diarrhea or shortness of breath.

Link between dairy and mucus

Based on studies conducted, it was revealed that nasal congestion or sinus drainage is not an outcome of ingesting milk products. Even though it has been a widely known belief that ingestion of milk can increase the secretion of mucus which leads to sinus drainage, studies do not support these so-called claims.

If an individual develops severe congestion after ingestion of dairy products, he/she might be hypersensitive to the proteins present in milk that can initiate inflammation and increase the production of mucus in the nasal passages. The doctor might recommend allergy testing as part of the diagnosis and management of the symptoms.

What are the possible causes of sinus drainage?

If an individual is allergic to milk, the immune system malfunctions once exposed to milk proteins. Whey and casein proteins enter the bloodstream and they are erroneously identified by the immune system as a threat.


Sinus drainage can either flow out of the nostrils which is called runny nose or down the rear part of the throat which is called postnasal drip.

The outcome of this is the release of immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) which attempt to fight them off. This results to the production of histamine which is a chemical responsible for fighting off infection. Excess amounts of histamine can cause the blood vessels to dilate, irritates the soft tissues and stimulates the mucus membranes. Take note that these actions can lead to sinus drainage and congestion within a few minutes of consuming dairy products.

Close look on sinus drainage

Sinus drainage is usually accompanied by nasal congestion. Always bear in mind that congestion is the result of swelling and inflammation of the soft tissues in the sinus cavities.

The congestion can also lead to sinus pressure, sinus headaches, inability to breathe via the nose and facial tenderness. As for sinus drainage, it is continuous drainage of mucus out of the nostrils or down at the rear of the throat. In medical terms, postnasal drip is used to describe the dripping of mucus at the back of the throat which leads to throat irritation, bad breath and constant coughing episodes.


In cases of sinus drainage that is linked to milk allergy, they are managed by elimination of all dairy products from the diet. It can also be managed with antihistamines and nasal decongestants. A doctor should be consulted first before using any over-the-counter medications.