August 02, 2022
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Everyone clears their throat from time to time. Whether it’s to get someone’s attention, as a nervous habit, or because it feels like you have something stuck in it, there are a number of reasons that make us go ahem.
When throat clearing becomes persistent, however, it’s important to find out what’s causing it. Chronic throat clearing could damage your vocal cords over time and is often the cause of an underlying condition. Identifying the cause is key to curbing the throat clearing.
Read on to learn more about throat clearing, why we do it, and when it could be the sign of a more serious problem.
9 causes of throat clearing
Chronic throat clearing isn’t a diagnosis alone, but rather a symptom of another underlying condition. Some common causes of chronic throat clearing include:
Most people who complain of chronic throat clearing have a disorder called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). It’s caused when matter from the stomach — both acidic and nonacidic — travels up to the throat region, causing an uncomfortable sensation that makes you clear your throat. Most people with LPR don’t experience other symptoms that typically go along with reflux, such as heartburn and indigestion.
Treatment for LPR may include medication and surgery in some severe cases. Lifestyle changes and home remedies may be effective in many cases, too. Here are some things you can try at home:
2. Postnasal drainage
Another common cause of throat clearing is postnasal drip. Postnasal drip happens when your body starts producing extra mucus. You may feel it dripping down your throat from the back of your nose. Other symptoms may include:
Allergies are a common cause of postnasal drip. Other causes include:
Treatment for post nasal drip varies depending on the cause. For example, if it’s related to allergies, avoiding the allergen or taking medications may stop the drip. Other treatments for postnasal drip may include:
3. Zenker’s diverticulum
Though rare, sometimes the esophagus has an abnormal pouch that prevents food from traveling to the stomach. This is known as Zenker’s diverticulum. The condition occasionally causes the contents of the pouch and mucus to get stuck in the throat.
Treatment for Zenker’s diverticulum typically involves surgery.
4. Chronic motor tic disorder
Chronic motor tic disorder involves brief, uncontrollable, spasm-like movements or phonic tics. It typically begins before age 18 and lasts four to six years.
Other symptoms of chronic motor tic disorder may include:
Treatment varies depending on the severity of symptoms but may include behavior therapy and medications.
5. Tourette syndrome
Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes both a physical tic and a vocal outburst. Other symptoms of Tourette syndrome may include:
Treatment for Tourette syndrome may include neurological treatment, medications, and therapy.
6. Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder with streptococcus (PANDAS)
PANDAS disorders typically appear suddenly after strep throat or scarlet fever in children. In addition to throat clearing and other vocal tics, symptoms of PANDAS may include:
Treatment for PANDAS may include therapy, counseling, and the use of medications.
7. Food allergies
In some cases, a food allergy or sensitivity may cause a tickling in your throat that makes you clear it. Dairy is a frequent culprit, but foods such as eggs, rice, and soy may also cause the sensation. The treatment in such cases is avoiding the food that leads to symptoms.
8. A side effect of medication
Some blood pressure medications can cause a tickle in your throat that contributes to chronic throat clearing. If you’re taking blood pressure medication and are frequently clearing your throat, talk to your doctor about a potential substitute.
In some cases, there may be no underlying condition causing the throat clearing. Instead, it may be a habit or something you subconsciously do when you’re anxious or stressed.
The following techniques may help you stop the habit:
When to seek help for throat clearing
If your throat clearing is persistent or has a negative effect on your life, seek treatment. Your doctor will do an examination and perhaps recommend an endoscopy to get a better look at what’s happening in the throat. Allergy testing may be recommended as well.
Treatment for throat clearing
Long-term treatment for chronic throat clearing depends on determining the underlying condition causing it. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medications, or, in some cases, surgery.
If you notice yourself clearing your throat more often, you can try to address it with some simple home remedies. When you feel the urge to clear your throat, try one of these techniques instead:
What’s the outlook?
Everyone clears their throat occasionally. But when it becomes persistent, it may be a sign of an underlying condition. Chronic throat clearing can also damage your vocal cords over time.
If simple home remedies don’t help stop the throat clearing, seek treatment as soon as possible to identify the cause and begin treatment.
Source: Health Line
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