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Clearing the throat: What are the causes and treatments?


Article by Master, Doctor Mai Vien Phuong - Gastrointestinal endoscopist - Department of Medical Examination & Internal Medicine - Vinmec Central Park International General Hospital.

Clearing your throat is a normal act to get someone's attention or because you feel something stuck in your throat. However, when a sore throat becomes persistent, it's important to find the cause to limit the condition.

1. Causes of throat clearing and treatment


Chronic sore throat is not a diagnosis alone, but a symptom of another underlying medical condition. Some common causes of chronic throat clearing include:

1.1. Laryngeal reflux


Most people with chronic throat problems have laryngopharyngeal reflux. The substance from the stomach (both acidic and non-acidic) going up the throat will cause an unpleasant sensation that makes you clear your throat. Most people with laryngopharyngeal reflux do not experience symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion.
Treatment for laryngopharyngeal reflux may include medication and surgery in some severe cases. Lifestyle changes and home remedies can also work in many cases. Specifically:
Raise the head of your bed 30 degrees or more. Avoid eating or drinking within three hours of lying down. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Avoid spicy, fatty and acidic foods. Following the Mediterranean diet, may be as effective as a medication for addressing laryngeal reflux symptoms. Weight loss. Reduce stress .

1.2. Postnasal drip


Another common cause of a clear throat is postnasal drip. Postnasal drip occurs when your body starts producing extra mucus. You can feel it running down your throat from the back of your nose. Other symptoms may include:
Cough that gets worse at night Nausea, possibly due to excess mucus moving into your stomach Sore throat Bad breath Allergies are a common cause of discharge posterior nose. Other causes include:
Deviated nasal septum Cold temperatures Viral infections, which can lead to colds or flu Sinusitis Pregnancy Weather changes Dry air Eating spicy foods Certain medications Treat postnasal drip depending on the cause. For example, if it is related to allergies, avoid the allergen or take medication.

1.3. Zenker's diverticulum


Although rare, sometimes the esophagus has an abnormal pouch that prevents food from moving to the stomach. This is called a Zenker diverticulum. This condition sometimes causes pouches and mucus to get stuck in the throat.

1.4. Chronic tic disorder


Chronic tic disorders include brief, uncontrollable movements, spasms, or sensations of sound. It usually begins before age 18 and lasts 4-6 years.
Other symptoms of a chronic tic disorder may include:
Face grimacing Convulsions, jerks or shrugs Treatment varies depending on the severity of symptoms, but may include behavioral therapy and medication.
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1.5. Tourette's syndrome


Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes both feelings of physical stress and vocal outbursts. Symptoms of Tourette syndrome include:
Blinking eyes Picking nose Mouth movements Jerking head Grumping Coughing Repeating words or phrases Treatments for Tourette syndrome may include neurological treatment, medication, and therapy. France.

1.6. Streptococcal Pediatric Autoimmune Disorder (PANDAS)


PANDAS disorders often appear suddenly after strep throat or scarlet fever in children. In addition to clearing the throat and making other sounds, symptoms of PANDAS can include:
Motor tics disorder Obsessive-compulsive disorder Moodiness or irritability Panic PANDAS treatment may include therapy counseling and drug use.

1.7. Food allergies


In some cases, allergies or food sensitivities can cause an uncomfortable feeling in your throat that prompts you to clear your throat. Milk is a frequent culprit, but foods like eggs, rice, and soy can also trigger this sensation. The cure for a sore throat in such cases is to avoid the food that leads to the symptoms.

1.8. A side effect of the drug


Some blood pressure medications can cause an uncomfortable sensation in the throat, contributing to chronic throat clearing. If you're on blood pressure medication and clear your throat frequently, talk to your doctor about a potential alternative medicine.

1.9. Habit


In some cases, there may not be an underlying condition causing a clear throat. Instead, it could be a habit or something you do subconsciously when you're anxious and stressed.
The following methods can help you to stop the habit:
Drink more water. Monitor your clearing or ask someone else to help you keep track. Find an alternative activity, such as swallowing or tapping your fingers. Long-term treatment for chronic sore throat depends on identifying the underlying condition that's causing it. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medication, or in some cases, surgery.

2. Home Remedies


If you find yourself clearing your throat more often, you can try solving it with some simple home remedies. When you feel like clearing your throat, try one of these techniques:
Take a few sips of water Suck on sugar-free candy Swallow twice Yawn Cough
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3. What is the outlook?


Clearing the throat is normal, but when it becomes persistent, it could be a sign of a medical condition. Therefore, if simple home remedies do not help to stop a sore throat, seek treatment as soon as possible to determine the cause and start treatment. Your doctor will examine you and may recommend an endoscopy to get a better look at what's going on in your throat. Allergy testing may also be recommended.

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References:
Postnasal drip. (nd). entnet.org/content/post-nasal-drip Voice Care. (nd). uthscsa.edu/oto/voicecare.asp Zalvan CH, et al. (2017). Comparison between alkaline water and the Mediterranean diet with proton pump inhibitors for the treatment of laryngeal reflux. DOI: 10.1001 / jamaoto.2017.145

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