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Tickle In Throat

Tickle In Throat Explained: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Most of us have experienced that irritating sensation in the throat, as if something’s causing constant tickle in throat, making us want to clear our throat repeatedly.

It’s not just annoying but it can also disrupt our daily lives, leave us searching for answers.

In today’s blog we will discover the phenomenon of tickle in throat – exploring the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for throat tickle.

What is a Throat Tickle?

A throat tickle, often referred to as throat irritation, is an uncomfortable sensation that occurs at the back of the throat that triggers coughing, throat clearing, or a persistent urge to scratch the throat.

This tickle in throat can vary in intensity from mild to severe, and may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as dryness, soreness, or difficulty swallowing.

Symptoms of Tickle in Throat

Anyone experiencing throat tickle may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Persistent urge to clear the throat
  • Dryness in the throat
  • Cough and scratchy throat
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing or discomfort while swallowing
  • Hoarseness or changes in voice
  • Itchy sensation in the throat

What Causes a Tickle in Throat?

There are various factors that can lead to constant tickle in throat – most common of these causes include:

  • Postnasal Drip: Excess mucus that drips down the back of the throat can cause irritation, leading to cough and scratchy throat.
  • Allergies: Exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust, or pet dander can trigger throat tickle.
  • Infections: Viral or bacterial infections like the common cold or flu can also cause inflammation and irritation in the throat.
  • Dry Air: Low humidity levels can dry out the throat, making it more susceptible to irritation.
  • Acid Reflux and GERD: Stomach acid backing up into the throat can irritate the lining, leading to a throat tickle or soreness.
  • Smoking: Tobacco smoke contains irritants that can inflame the throat lining, causing discomfort.
  • Vocal Strain: Overuse or misuse of the voice can strain the throat muscles, resulting in irritation.
  • Environmental Irritants: Exposure to pollutants, smoke, or strong odors is also one of the major reasons for tickle in throat.
  • Dehydration: Insufficient hydration can lead to dryness in the throat, worsening irritation.
  • Certain Cancers: Throat cancers can manifest with symptoms like persistent cough and scratchy throat.
  • COVID-19: Throat irritation can be a symptom of COVID-19 infection as well.
  • ACE Inhibitors: Certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure, may cause a dry cough and throat irritation as side effects.

Risk Factors of Tickle in Throat

There are certain factors that may not directly cause throat tickle, but can increase the risk for its occurrence. These risk factors include:

  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Allergies or asthma
  • Chronic sinus problems
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Vocal strain from singing or speaking loudly for extended periods
  • Occupational exposure to environmental irritants
  • Age (older adults may be more prone to throat irritation)
  • Certain medical conditions like diabetes or autoimmune disorders

Diagnosis of Throat Tickle

Diagnosing the underlying cause of throat tickle may involve a variety of examinations and tests, which include:

  • Physical examination
  • Medical history review
  • Allergy testing
  • Throat culture or swab test
  • Imaging tests (e.g., X-rays, CT scans)
  • Endoscopy (to visualize the throat and esophagus)

How To Treat Tickle in Your Throat?

The available treatment options for throat tickle are aimed towards addressing the underlying cause, to help get rid of these discomforting symptoms. These treatment options are listed below:

  • Medications: Antihistamines, decongestants, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), or antibiotics (if infection is present).
  • Throat Sprays or Lozenges: Provide temporary relief from constant tickle in throat by soothing the throat.
  • Humidifiers: Add moisture to the air to get rid of the dryness in throat.
  • Voice Rest: Limiting talking or singing allows the throat to heal properly.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Avoiding triggers such as smoking, allergens, or irritants.
  • Inhalation Therapy: Steam inhalation with essential oils or saline solutions does wonders against throat tickle.
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids to keep the throat moist works amazingly well as well.
  • Dietary Changes: Avoiding spicy, acidic, or irritant foods that can aggravate the throat are  prohibited.

Home Remedies

Before opting for the medical treatments, certain home remedies can also be considered for tickle in throat. The most effective home remedies for cough and scratchy throat are:

  • Gargle with Salt Water: Helps to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria in the throat.
  • Steam Inhalation: Moistens the throat and loosens mucus.
  • Get plenty of rest: Allows the body to heal and recover.
  • Throat Lozenges or Hard Candy: Provides temporary relief by stimulating saliva production.
  • Herbal Teas: Soothe the throat and provide hydration.
  • Avoid Irritants: Steer clear of smoke, pollutants, and strong odors.
  • Hot Soup: Provides warmth and hydration to the throat.
  • Avoid caffeine: Caffeine can contribute to dehydration and make throat dryness even worse.
  • Use a Humidifier: Maintains optimal humidity levels in the air.
  • Honey: Has natural soothing and antimicrobial properties.

When To See a Doctor?

If the throat tickle continues for more than a week, accompanied by severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or swallowing – or if you have underlying health conditions like GERD or allergies, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly. Your primary care physician can perform a thorough evaluation and recommend appropriate treatment options tailored to your specific needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I keep getting a tickle in throat?

A tickle in throat can result from various factors like allergies, dry air, infections, or acid reflux irritating your throat lining.

How to stop tickle in throat?

Stay hydrated, use a humidifier, avoid irritants like smoke, and consider over-the-counter remedies like lozenges or throat sprays for relief.

How to relieve cough and scratchy throat at night?

Gargle with salt water, drink herbal teas, keep your bedroom humidified, and try throat lozenges or hard candy to soothe an itchy throat at night.

How long does it take for a throat tickle to go away?

The duration varies based on the underlying cause. It could resolve within a few days with proper care, or cna even persist longer if it's due to a chronic condition. If it lasts more than a week, consult a healthcare professional immediately for evaluation.

– Disclaimer –

This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 03/15/2024

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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