Tickling or itching in the throat is usually nothing more than a minor annoyance. It can be a symptom of a cold or allergies, or caused by dry air. However, a chronic itchy throat can create a great deal of medical distress. An itch in your throat can disturb your sleep, distract you from your daily duties, and cause inflammation and pain in the throat. To ease an itchy throat, you must first understand its causes. Once you know why your throat itches, you can choose an appropriate course of treatment.
Causes of Itchy Throat
There are various reasons why your throat might itch. The walls of your throat are covered with a mucus membrane that features nerve endings. These nerve endings can be irritated by food, air, viruses, or allergic reactions. The mucus is supposed to lubricate the tissue and make it easy for things to pass through the canal, but sometimes the mucus dries up. This often occurs as a result of an infection or because of dehydration. In some cases, the body can produce too much mucus, over-lubricating the area and also causing an itch. Specific causes of an itchy throat include:
This is probably the most common cause of throat itching. When your throat becomes dry and there is not enough mucus to protect the sensitive tissue, itching is triggered.
Usually drinking more water helps, but if that does not solve the problem, you should consult your doctor. Chronic dehydration can be a symptom of a serious medical condition, such as diabetes, or it could indicate you are suffering from a viral infection.
Diet, Drugs and Lifestyle
In addition to not drinking enough water, certain foods and beverages can also cause your throat to itch. Caffeine is dehydrating, so if you drink a lot of coffee, tea, or soda, you might develop an itch in your throat. Recreational drugs (mostly cocaine, opium and cannabis) and certain prescription medications, such as antidepressants, can also trigger dehydration and itching. Smoking is another common cause of throat irritation.
Altering these habits or speaking to your doctor about alternative medications can help you ease the itching.
Using your throat too often throughout the day can dry it out and cause it to itch. This can occur from too much talking or coughing, singing loudly or incorrectly, shouting, and snoring. But it is also a problem if you develop a sickness that requires you to breathe through your mouth or cough frequently. Finally,
It is possible to develop an infection in your throat. This usually occurs in the tonsils and causes them to become inflamed and irritated. Throat infections can be treated with antibiotics or antiseptics.
Minor throat infections might clear up if you gargle with salt water to combat bacteria and germs. If you frequently experience an itchy throat, consider gargling with salt water on a regular basis as part of your oral hygiene routine. To prevent infection, also remember to brush and floss your teeth thoroughly and don't forget the mouthwash, wash and cook all food thoroughly at the same time.
Allergic reactions can cause your throat to itch. This might be a reaction to certain blooming flowers or plants, or it could be a reaction to something you eat. If you experience an itchy throat on a regular basis, consider keeping a journal in which you record the foods you eat and your feelings throughout each season. This can help you recognize actions or situations causing the itching to occur.
Throat itching accompanied by throat clearing or coughing can become a nervous habit. Sometimes the itching in a person's throat is psychosomatic, which means there is no external stimulus. This type of disorder often occurs after there was a real incident of throat irritation. A perceived tickle in the throat can be a sign of nerves and a reaction to an uncomfortable social situation. If this is the problem, use self talk, meditation, and other calming techniques to alleviate the problem. It might take time to break the habit and require professional support if the problem is severe, but it can be cured.
Treatments for Itchy Throat
There are numerous treatments for itchy throat, but you must first determine if the problem is serious before assuming a particular treatment will be effective. If you experience symptoms such as itching, rash along with difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately because these may be signs of anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening.
The most effective treatments for itchy throat include:
Throat Drops and Throat Spray
Medicated throat lozenges are an effective way to remedy an itchy throat. They generate saliva production, which lubricates the throat and eases the itching. Use medicated drops help ease the irritation, especially when it is caused by sickness or allergies. Sprays are similar to lozenges, but are liquids sprayed directly into the throat throughout the day. Pregnant women and people who have trouble breathing should avoid throat sprays.
Salt Water Gargling
There are over the counter gargles available, but a salt water solution is usually enough to relieve an itchy throat. It is cheaper and you run no risk of becoming addicted to the solution.
Mix a half teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water. Sip the water into your mouth, tilt your head back, and gargle the solution for about 10 seconds. Repeat three times and throughout the day for continued relief. Do not, under any circumstances, swallow the salt water mixture.
One of the reasons your throat becomes dry and itchy is because the air in your environment is dry. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air, especially during the driest weather. The machine can be used throughout the day, but many people find it especially helpful during the night.
Ginger and Honey
Mixing a teaspoon of honey with a teaspoon of ginger juice creates an effective oral treatment for itchy throat. Heat the mixture slightly and take it at bedtime, or mix it into tea and sip throughout the day.
Turmeric and Milk
This is another helpful remedy for itchy throat. Boil a cup of milk (water works, too) with a teaspoon of turmeric. Allow the mixture to cool a bit and drink it at bedtime. This can be done several days in a row until the itchy is relieved. Ginger can also be added to the mixture for better results. Honey can also be added to the mixture for sweetness.
This is one of the best known and easiest to prepare itchy throat remedies. Simply steep three to four teaspoons of dried chamomile in a quart of boiling water and sip as you would any beverage. Chamomile has calming properties that can help alleviate a number of issues.
Marshmallow Root and Slippery Elm
This has been a favorite natural throat remedy for many years. Slippery elm is available in lozenge form and marshmallow root can be used to prepare tea. Vary the slippery elm lozenges and marshmallow root tea throughout the day until you experience relief.
Remember to consult your doctor before using any herbal remedy if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Over the Counter Medications
There are a number of over the counter (OTC) medications available that might ease itchy throat. These include Guaifenesin, which can be found under the brand name Robitussin, nasal saline sprays, antihistamines for allergy relief, and a variety of OTC gargles and lozenges. Depending on the cause of your throat irritation, OTC antacids and H2 blockers for acid reflux might also be effective. If you've had problems with OTC medications in the past, check with your doctor before taking anything for your throat.