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Itchy throat – Causes, Remedies

Updated on October 15, 2013

An itchy throat is a condition characterized by an irritating feeling in the throat which causes a desire in the affected person to cough. An itchy throat can be accompanied by a number of other symptoms such as secretions, pain, speaking or swallowing difficulties, itchy eyes, runny nose, and hoarseness in the voice.

Patients who experience bloody phlegm, ear pain, breathing problems, and high fever along with an itchy throat must seek medical attention for diagnosis and effective treatment.

Causes of an itchy throat

An itchy throat can be caused due to various reasons, some being mild, while others can be serious. Some of the different causes of an itchy throat are listed below:

  • Loud singing or speaking: An itchy throat may arise when you engage in prolonged yelling, speaking, or singing. The problem disappears on its own after some days.

  • Dry throat: It often occurs along with dry mouth, eyes, and skin. Dry throat is commonly caused due to cold weather conditions, breathing via mouth due to stuffed nose, excessive air-conditioning or heating, dehydration, an inflamed throat, malfunctioning salivary glands, Sjögren’s syndrome, smoking, intake of certain medications, and/or excessive intake of alcohol, sodas, coffee, or energy drinks. Herbal tea, use of indoor air humidifiers, and medications generally resolve the issue.

  • Irritants: Varied industrial gases, chemicals, cigarette smoke, hot spices, household cleaners, etc. can also irritate the throat.

  • Foreign matter: Itchy throat may be caused when foreign substances such as a seed, fish bone, etc. get lodged in the throat. Drink water to swallow it, or you can cough it out. Pain relievers can also be taken.

  • Throat infections: An itchy throat can be caused due to bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. The common viral causes include flu, cold, and sore throat. They may be accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue, coughing, sneezing, and nasal congestion. Strep throat is a common type of bacterial infection that causes an itchy throat as well as fever, throat pain, swallowing problems, exhaustion, and headache. Oral thrush is a common fungal cause. Croup that results in an inflamed throat in children can be caused due to an allergy, or a bacterial or viral infection. Most infections are treated with medications like antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and painkillers.

  • Tumors: Presence of tiny, non-malignant tumors in throat can also result in an itchy throat. Such tumors are removed via surgery.

  • Vomiting: The throat may experience irritation after vomiting due to presence of gastric acid. The accompanying itchy throat fades away on its own.

  • Neck disorders: Enlarged lymph nodes or thyroid gland, dislocated tissue post injuries, abscess, or adhesions development post-surgery, can exert external pressure on the throat and irritate it.

  • Post-nasal Drip: It is caused due to elevated manufacture of mucus. This mucus accumulates at the back of the nose and throat. It may be noted that PND is not a health condition but only a symptom that indicates the existence of other disorders such as GERD, sinusitis, or other kinds of infections.

  • Allergies: It is another common cause of an itchy throat. Allergies can result from exposure to different allergens like dust, pollen, environmental factors, dander, or some types of food. Patients can prevent instances of itchy throat by avoiding such allergens.

  • Therapeutic and diagnostic procedures: Bronchial or gastric endoscopy, and endotracheal intubation can cause soreness in the throat leading to itchiness that lasts for some days.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD: It is a disorder of the digestive system that is characterized by reverse flow of the stomach acids into the food pipe. On occasions bile may also flow backwards. This can irritate the food pipe lining eventually resulting in an itchy throat.

Treatment of an itchy throat

It is clear from the above discussed list that an itchy throat can be caused due to a number of reasons. Each causative condition may require distinctive treatment. Some of common treatment options for an itchy throat are as follows:

Medications

  • Antihistamines may be prescribed by the doctor to patients suffering from allergies. Painkillers can be taken to ease the throat pain.

  • An antimicrobial medication called myrrh can be used to placate the mucus membranes and treat dry cough.

  • Different types of cough syrups can be used to cure cough in children as well as adults. The doctor may prescribe a cough syrup with sedatives for adults.

  • Throat lozenges can provide instant relief from mild cases of itchy throat. Lozenges are available in many different flavors.

Home remedies

  • Honey-lemon tea can soothe itchiness in throat. Boil some green tea in a cup of water, strain it, and then add a spoonful of honey and juice from a single lemon.

  • Gargling with lukewarm saline water is one of the best remedies for an itchy throat.

  • Patients can clear congestion by consuming clear chicken soup. You can add flavor to it using turmeric, garlic, and parsley. Chicken soup also helps in easing the itchiness in throat and facilitates better breathing.

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