An itchy throat can be scratchy, dry and sore. Most people with a constant itchy and scratchy throat get it at night. It can be accompanied with a severe dry cough. Symptoms that are common with this problem include a stuffy nose, dry mouth, chest pains, burning nose, itchy ears, pain when swallowing etc. Here are the causes such as allergies, remedies, and cures to stop, soothe and treat and itchy throat that won’t go away.
What is an itchy or scratchy throat?
A scratchy throat or itching sensation is an irritation that makes you want to cough. You might feel a little pain, feel some dryness in the back of your throat and even have difficulty in eating and swallowing. Depending on the cause, you might also suffer itchy ears, itchy and watery eyes.
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A dry itchy throat may not be very serious unless it won’t go away or keeps coming back. It is triggered by quite a number of causes. These include hay fever, allergies, irritating foods, vomiting, cancer, gluten intolerance, vaping and smoking. Most patients of ulcers and sinus drainage problems, thrush and other throat infections may also experience a scratchy throat as one of the symptoms. Before we look at the remedies and treatments to cure an itchy throat, here are the causes and symptoms.
What Causes an Itchy Throat Or What Causes a Scratchy Throat?
As you already know, irritation at the back of the throat can be a simple problem that will go away on its own. In some other instances, it could be a serious problem that can only clear with proper treatment. Here are itchy, scratchy throat causes.
1. Itchy throat allergies
Allergies are a major cause of a scratchy feeling in the throat. Airborne particles and other allergens such as pollen, dust, fur etc. can cause an allergic reaction at the back of your mouth. The irritation they will cause will make you feel scratchy or itchy.
According to Wikipedia, “During the summer months, allergies are a common cause of throat irritation.” The feeling can occur at night if the source of the allergen is in the bedroom. Examples of allergic irritants that may cause throat irritation to include mutes, dust, molds and pet dander.
The reason why most people don’t know whether it is itchy throat allergies or cold is that the symptoms may include a runny nose, nasal passages congested and runny eyes. People with asthma, which is an allergy, are prone to throat irritation more than those who are not asthmatic. Allergic rhinitis or nasal allergies are also a major cause of an inflamed throat.
2. Post nasal drip causes throat irritation
Sinus drainage or post nasal drip is a condition where there is a sensation of mucus at the back of your throat. This usually triggers the urge to either swallow or a cough in order to clear the throat. Post nasal drip may be caused by infections such as viral and bacterial sinusitis.
Other causes of post nasal drip and therefore a scratchy or itchy throat include allergies, smoking, dust and pet dander. A common cold is also known to cause sinus drainage, with its symptoms including excess fluid running out of the nose as well as at the back of the throat.
3. Scratchy throat from smoking or vaping
Cigarette smoke is one of the major irritants of the oral cavity. It can cause plaque, white patches in the mouth and throat or leukoplakia and even an itchy back of the throat.
Smoking or vaping causes the inflammation of the lung tissue as well as the back of the throat. As your cough progresses, the problem develops from throat irritation and itch to bronchitis and cardiopulmonary diseases. One of the best ways to get rid of an itchy throat fast is to quit smoking. Visit a doctor if you have a persistent cough and scratchy feeling in your throat.
4. Cancer of the lungs, thyroid, throat
Cancers can also trigger a severe cough and itchy back of the mouth. It is however important to know that irritation in the throat in itself does not mean you have throat cancer or cancer of the lungs and thyroid. If you suspect or are worried that the symptom could be caused by cancer, see a doctor for proper diagnosis and early treatment to prevent the spread of the cancer cells.
5. Dry itchy throat from dry air
During winter, the number of people complaining of mild itch in the throat may increase. The cause is attributed to dry air. In addition, air conditioners producing warm, dry air thickens the mucus in your respiratory system. This will irritate the throat.
If you identify this as the cause of throat irritation, it is advised that you use a humidifier. Adding moisture to air will make your throat and nose hydrated, thus producing relief for a dry itchy throat faster.
6. Acid reflux and ulcers
Acid reflux and heartburn are common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD causes acid reflux back into the throat and mouth. Acid irritates your throat and may cause pain as well. According to Dr. Robert Silge of HealthTap, acid reflux can cause itching of the throat, roof of the mouth as well as itchy ears. All these are associated with GERD. Ulcers may also cause these symptoms.
7. Scratchy throat after eating and fruit juice
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, “Oral allergy syndrome may happen after eating certain fruits…” You may get the same from fruit juice. Acidic fruits are likely to irritate your oral lining and trigger a cough. Here are the fruits are known to cause this symptom.
- Orange juice
- kiwi fruit
- peaches and
If you notice that you get an irritated throat after juicing or after drinking any of these juices, the cause could be the fruits you have eaten or the juice you will have taken. Spicy foods can also be a source of irritation in the mouth and back of the throat.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the airways to the lungs. The air passages are also called bronchial tubes. As the passages are irritated, you will get an itchy trachea and throat. During the early stages, you may feel a mild tickle in the throat, but it will grow as the problem becomes severe.
Other signs of bronchitis you should look out for including yellowish or greenish mucus (sputum), fever and chills, pronounced chest discomfort and severe cough. Fatigue and shortness of breath may also accompany the symptoms. [Source – Mayo Clinic]
9. Tickle in the throat from throat infection or strep throat
Throat infections, especially at the back of the throat are also known to cause a tickle in throat. Strep throat, for example, is caused by bacterial infections. It is common in children and pregnant mothers. Symptoms may include, but not limited to pain in the throat, swollen tonsils, nausea and an itchy throat. Strep throat can be treated with antibiotics such as penicillin.
10. Hay fever or rhinitis
Hay fever is also called allergic rhinitis. It has symptoms almost similar to those of a cold. They include nasal congestion, itchy eyes, throat, and ears. You might also sneeze or cough as a result of the tickle in your throat.
Mayo Clinic lists it as one of the causes of an itchy throat. When you are exposed to irritants that cause hay fever or allergic rhinitis, you will experience an itchy roof of mouth, nose, and throat. Some people will suffer a severe cough due to post nasal drip. Fatigue, red eyes and swollen under eyes are also signs of hay fever.
11. Tickle in the throat from STDs, Herpes, and HIV
Some STDs may also show symptoms in your throat, such as yellow patches and a scratchy throat. The herpes simplex virus (HSV) can affect the lips, mouth, and throat (oral herpes). It is characterized by sores and itching on the lips, mouth and even at the back of the throat.
HIV, in a few cases, has been found to relate to tickles and scratches in the throat. According to Drugs.com, Kaposi Sarcoma is a type of cancer that is related to AIDS: “Kaposi’s sarcoma is the most common AIDS-related cancer…” which produces lesions and sores on face, mouth, nose etc. and can also cause “itching and sores in the mouth or throat...” [Source – Drugs.com]
12. Itchy back of the throat and sore throat after cold, flu
A sore throat and dry cough are some of the primary symptoms of the common cold virus. When you have a sore throat that normally happens after a cold, you are likely to get a scratchy feeling in your throat. This is caused by the inflammation of tissues at the back of the throat due to the virus infection.
Sometimes, a post nasal drip may accompany common cold and flu. This always irritates the back of mouth and throat, forcing you to cough in order to clear up the irritation. If you have flu, you might experience headaches, fatigue, fever and sometimes vomit. In order to cure itchy throat after cold or flu attacks, you might need to get medication that relieves these symptoms.
13. Thrush (after kissing)
A burning throat or mouth could be a sign of oral thrush. If you have been on a course of antibiotics for a long period, you are prone to thrush or candida fungus infection. The UK National Health Service lists an itchy throat or burning back of the mouth as part of the signs of candida infection in the mouth.
If you experience these signs after kissing, you are likely to have gotten the infection from the other person.
Other listed causes of itchy throat include vomiting, tonsillitis and tonsil stones, thyroid problems, lymphoma and gag reflex as a result of an enlarged or swollen uvula. Some people also believe that a temporary itch in the throat is a sign of pregnancy. There’s no evidence
Itchy Throat Symptoms
What are the additional symptoms that may accompany a scratchy throat? In diagnosing the cause, your doctor is likely to ask you for any other symptoms. This will help him pinpoint the cause and apply the relevant treatment. Here are common symptoms that may accompany an irritated throat.
1. Itching throat and runny nose
A runny nose and itchy eyes are often symptoms that go together. While in some instances there may be no cold, a runny nose, watering eyes, and an irritated throat could be signs of allergic rhinitis.
The symptoms of rhinitis spread to the nose and eyes, sometimes to the ears. Inflamed nasal passages may be as a result of the allergic irritants. If you suffer from seasonal rhinitis, try to avoid the environmental irritant that is causing it in order to prevent the irritation.
2. Scratchy throat no other symptoms
It can be hard to tell the problem when you have a scratchy throat and no other symptoms. Normally, you would get nausea, sore throat, a cold, mucus, and phlegm, etc. But when there’s no phlegm or mucus or other signs, the problem is not chronic.
The absence of other symptoms with an irritated, sore throat means that the cause is something you are ingesting. Smoking, spicy foods, and some acidic fruits and juices can irritate the throat and make it sore even with no cold.
3. Stuffy nose, clogged ears
Pregnancy and breastfeeding are commonly associated with many symptoms. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, hay fever and other forms of allergies, including seasonal ones, are the reason behind a scratchy, itchy throat and a stuffy nose and clogged ears.
Nasal and ear infections, too, can cause the three symptoms to appear together. For example, viruses in the respiratory system will make the body to produce histamine. Histamine increases the flow of blood to the nose.
This causes nasal tissue to swell, leading to a stuffy nose and sometimes a burning nose. The pressure in the ears increases and causes clogged ears. As your nose produces excessive amounts of mucus, post nasal drip can also cause throat irritation.
4. Itchy throat dry cough at night
A bad, dry cough, usually at night is not very serious. It, however, causes a lot of discomforts and may be felt on the left side or right side, when lying down. Stress, some medications such as those for high blood pressure, smoking, sleeping with your mouth open and air pollution in your bedroom can all cause a scratchy throat cough at night.
To relieve an itchy throat at night during sleep, identify the cause. Once you eliminate it, you will enjoy a good night sleep without a bad cough and irritation in the back of the mouth. See the treatments below.
5. Scratchy throat and ears
Itchy ears is a sign of infection in the ear canal. They will easily scab and form discharge or even start to ring or produce a thumping sound. Ear infections can easily spread into the nose and throat. The cavities are connected. The reason why you feel scratchy throat irritation and itching ears is that infections and allergies such as rhinitis can spread symptoms to these organs.
6. Constant tickle in the throat that won’t go away
Constant tickle at the back of the throat that keeps you coughing, sometimes every morning and that lasts for weeks could be a sign of a more serious problem. It could mean serious allergic problems, a throat infection or even cancer. Constant coughing can cause your uvula to swell or enlarge.
In case you experience inflammation in the throat that won’t go away or heal, see an ENT doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Other symptoms may include the following, depending on the cause of the problem:
- Body aches
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Scratchy throat and hoarse voice or losing voice, normally due to singing or shouting
- Chest pains
- Headaches and fever
- Dry mouth or burning mouth
- Painful swallowing
- The feeling of a lump in the throat
- Jaw pain and swollen lymph nodes in the neck
How to Get Rid of an Itchy Throat Fast
Most methods that are used to relieve a sore throat will help get rid of a scratchy throat fast. Some overnight treatments will calm and cure the tickle and irritation. Below, we have discussed treatments, home remedies and cures to heal a scratchy, itchy or a sore throat fast.
a) Quit smoking to heal scratchy throat
A dry cough and tickle could be a result of smoking. Cigarette smoking causes a dry throat. It is a direct cause of the itchiness and irritation on your gums, mouth, and back of the mouth.
According to GreenMedInfo, relieving acidic tissues in smokers, which are “normally more acidic in tobacco users” using lime can help you stop smoking and heal a constant sore throat. You can use lime as a remedy to quit smoking faster.
b) Avoid acidic fruits and juices to stop throat itch
You can suspend eating fruits and drinking juices that irritate your throat. Identify the specific fruits that lead to an inflamed throat. The fruits listed above are some of those that cause the problem. Quit eating and juicing until your throat heals.
c) Soothe a hoarse voice
One of the causes of a tickle in the throat is shouting, too much singing and talking. In order to get rid of an itchy throat from shouting or a hoarse voice, avoid activities that lead to straining your voice. Prevent overworking your vocal cords or larynx. Here are other home remedies and cures you can try to soothe a scratchy throat.
Home Remedies and Natural Cures
Home remedies and cures can also help you get rid of a scratchy throat. Saline gargles, some vegetables, vinegar, honey, some teas and herbal tinctures can help cure the irritation naturally. Here’s how to soothe an itching throat naturally with home remedies.
a) Gargle salt water to soothe a sore throat
Saltwater can soothe your sore throat fast. The concentration of salt on the outside of the cells in your neck will reduce the swelling. The inflammation will reduce and the tickle will go away. Here’s how to gargle with salt water.
- Half-fill a glass with lukewarm water.
- Add half a tablespoon of salt.
- Mix to make a salt solution to gargle with.
- Sip into your mouth and lean our head backward at a 45-degree angle, your face facing upwards.
- Gargle with the water by making the “g” sound repeatedly, with the water in the back of your mouth.
Saltwater gargles will help “cut through the phlegm” (WikiHow) and reduce the tickling.
b) Honey to cure itching and tickling throat
Honey soothes a sore throat much faster than most OTC medications. If you have a bad or a severe cough due to a tickle, taking some honey will help soothe the pain and irritation fast. It works by coating the irritated membranes.
- Get raw honey as it also prevents allergies.
- Take 2 to 3 tablespoons a day, or just one spoonful three times a day to soothe an irritated throat.
- You can also mix honey in your water or tea.
Avoid giving children or infants below 12 months as it can cause infant botulism.
c) Drink apple cider vinegar to relieve itch in the throat
Apple cider vinegar is an anti-inflammatory home remedy. It can also get rid of bacteria that irritate the tissues in the back of your mouth. Here’s how to relieve itchy throat with vinegar.
- Put about 8oz of hot water into a cup.
- Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
- Stir well to mix and make a solution.
- Sip this solution slowly.
You can also mix this solution with a little honey. It will improve the taste and add potency to the remedy.
Other natural remedies include vegetables, vitamin C, ginger water or tea. Drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help hydrate your body and prevent a dry throat. Using a humidifier in the house will help prevent a scratchy throat at night. A horseradish drink can also provide quick relief. Below are medications used to stop itch in the throat.
Treatment and Medicine for Itchy Throat
If you have symptoms that include a stuffy nose due to the flu or cold, treatments may be administered to relieve the congestion or clear up the stuffy nose. Here are common treatments and medicine that is given to cure the problem or relieve the symptoms.
- Your doctor will prescribe antihistamines or decongestants such as Vicks, Zyrtec, Benadryl and Claritin to help relieve the pressure. These will open up nasal passages and prevent the postnasal drip that irritates the back of the mouth. However, there is no medication or cure to get rid of a cold.
- Throat spray can help relieve a tickly dry cough that is common at night. Such sprays contain ingredients that numb the throat and rid it of the symptoms. An example is phenol. Throat sprays can be bought over the counter and used at home as a quick fix for a scratchy throat.
- Treatments for allergies are also good at getting rid of the itchy ears, back of mouth and nose. Your doctor might recommend medications such as cetirizine if your symptoms are caused by an allergy. However, proper treatment for allergy should be given if the problem is persistent.
- Other itchy throat medicine prescriptions and OTC medications include Xanax, Xyzal, Zoloft, Zithromax, and Zicam.
Other than these treatments, you should see a doctor if your cough keeps worsening and lasts for more than three weeks without relief. If other severe and unusual symptoms appear, see a doctor immediately. These include swelling throat, shortness of breath and loss of voice. Coughing up blood is also an alarming symptom.
In addition, if these ways on how to stop an itchy throat don’t work, you should see your physician. Phlegm examination, X-rays, allergy and breathing tests may be done to determine the cause of your symptoms before treatment is given.
Watch Video on How to Stop a Scratchy Throat in the Morning
Courtesy of Osumedicalcenter YouTube channel, here’s how to stop a sore throat in the morning.
Sources and References
- Wikipedia: Throat Irritation from Allergies
- Medicine Net: Patient Comments: Larynx Cancer – Describe Your Experience
- HealthTap: My inner ears and throat are itchy. Throat is really red and a bit swollen. Allergies? Acid reflux?
- The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: Types of Food Allergy – Oral Allergy Syndrome
- Mayo Clinic: Bronchitis Symptoms; Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis) Symptoms
- com: HIV / AIDS Symptoms & Complications
- The Body: Symptoms of HIV: Throat Irritation
- NHS Choices: Signs of Oral Thrush in Adults
- HealthLine: Common Cold Symptoms
- ZocDoc: Why do I have a sore throat with no other symptoms?
- American Academy of Otolaryngology: Stuffy nose causes and treatment
- Everyday Health: The Right Way to Fight Rhinitis
- GreenMedinfo: Lime Juice and 8 Other Natural Ways To Quit Smoking