Everyone clears their throat occasionally. However, persistent throat clearing can harm the vocal cords and indicate underlying health issues. Recognizing the factors causing this symptom allows for treatment at the source.
Causes of Throat Clearing
Throat clearing is usually a symptom of a few underlying conditions:
- Acid Reflux or GERD: Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) commonly triggers throat clearing. Around 20% of adults and 10% of children in the US are affected by GERD, often experiencing a sensation of something stuck in the throat or a sore throat.
- Food Allergies: Certain foods like dairy, eggs, rice and soy can tickle the throat, leading to the need for throat clearing.
- Medication Side Effects: Some medicines can cause a tickling sensation in the throat, resulting in throat clearing.
- Postnasal Drainage: Excess mucus production that drains into the throat can cause postnasal drip. Allergies, illnesses like colds or the flu, infections, spicy foods and weather changes can all trigger this condition.
- Tourette’s Syndrome: This neurological disorder can cause varying physical tics, including throat clearing.
Sometimes, persistent throat clearing can be a habit without an underlying cause.
Managing Throat Clearing
If persistent throat clearing negatively impacts you, seek medical advice. To manage this occurrence:
- Hydrate: Regular sips of water can relieve vocal cords of sensations, prompting throat clearing.
- Suppress the Urge: Try to resist the urge to clear your throat by sipping water or swallowing hard, protecting your vocal cords.
- Avoid Voice Irritation: Regularly rest your voice, refrain from smoking and treat allergy symptoms with antihistamines and decongestants.
- Manage GERD and Acid Reflux: Dietary and lifestyle changes and certain prescription medicines can help treat GERD and acid reflux.
- Treat Mucus Causes: Medicines can help manage mucus caused by illnesses or allergies. Consult a doctor for persistent mucus.
Chronic throat clearing can lead to vocal cord damage. Maintaining a healthy throat contributes to your overall health and well-being. To learn more about your ear, nose or throat health, schedule an appointment with Alpine Ear, Nose & Throat today.