We’ve all done it. We’ve all heard it — throat clearing.
Before speaking. After a bout with a cold. Even when allergies strike, but, did you know there may be more unexpected and serious reasons for all that throat clearing? If you or someone you know is doing more than the occasional, ahem, half cough clearing, it may be time to visit your ear, nose and throat professional to find out why.
Why throat clearing
Whether it’s a tickle in your throat that you’re trying to squelch or a little extra phlegm that’s making you sound more like a croaking frog, it’s not uncommon to occasionally clear your throat. Here are some of the reasons you may find yourself doing it more often:
Allergies – Got seasonal allergies? Chances are when you come in contact with pollen, your nose begins to run, the sneezes begin, and post-nasal drip becomes your best frenemy. Throat clearing can help to move around some of the extra mucus, but other solutions such as antihistamines, decongestants, and even nasal clearing with a neti pot can help reduce the impact of allergens and the need for throat clearing.
Cold virus – There’s no surprise here. The common cold virus, like allergies, can lead to congestion, which in turn often makes throat clearing a must. Over the counter medications such as decongestants can help clear up the extra mucus and minimize the need for coughing and throat clearing.
Acid reflux – This cause is often surprising. When we think of acid reflux, we rarely think of throat clearing as a symptom. However, silent reflux is often an underlying cause. If you’ve been diagnosed with acid reflux, consider lifestyle changes to reduce the occurrence and symptoms. Discuss medication options with your healthcare professional to help manage chronic silent reflux.
Medication – In some cases, as medication helps to resolve one symptom or condition, it can cause other symptoms, including throat clearing. This is especially true with ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure. They can help manage the blood pressure but at the same time, can cause a postnasal drip requiring frequent throat clearing. If you’re running into this issue with your medication, discuss options with your healthcare provider.
Vocal cord growths – Have you ever felt like something is stuck in your throat, no matter how much water you drink or how much you cough and clear? You may have a growth such as a cyst or a polyp on your vocal cord. In these cases, it’s essential to contact your ear, nose and throat healthcare provider to determine the cause and how best to treat it.
Difficulty swallowing – In some individuals, due to structural differences or neurologic conditions, the simple act of swallowing can become a struggle. This often leads to coughing or choking that increases the need for throat clearing. If this sounds familiar, speak with your ENT. Treatment is often personalized based on the cause of the difficulty swallowing.
Clearing your throat can be a natural way to help remove irritating mucus or particles, but it can also be a sign of a more serious or chronic condition. If you find yourself frequently clearing your throat, contact our office to schedule an appointment so we can help identify and treat the cause.