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A constant tickle in the throat can drive you crazy, especially when it causes you to cough at inopportune times 2. The sensation is caused by a mild inflammation in your throat -- enough to tickle, but not to hurt. A dry cough often accompanies the tickle because your body senses the inflammation and is trying to remove whatever might be irritating your throat 2. Unfortunately, though, unless you've got a foreign object in your throat, the cough is unlikely to do more than embarrass you 2. Getting rid of the problem means addressing the cause of the irritation.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
After a Cold or Flu
A cold or flu causes many unpleasant symptoms, and it can leave behind the sort of mild throat irritation that will cause an aggravating tickle in your throat until the irritated tissues settle down. If the constant tickling sensation started after a cold or flu, the only way to get rid of it is to wait it out. It should go away within about three weeks. In the meantime, you can use throat lozenges or even hard candy to ease the tickle temporarily, especially for those times you don't want to burst out coughing.
- A cold or flu causes many unpleasant symptoms, and it can leave behind the sort of mild throat irritation that will cause an aggravating tickle in your throat until the irritated tissues settle down.
Due to Allergies
How to Stop a Gagging Cough
If you have nasal allergies, the frequent postnasal drip that comes with allergies can be enough to irritate your throat and cause that constant tickle. If you suspect this is the cause, try allergy medicines -- with your doctor's OK -- to dry up your nasal secretions. Antihistamines or steroid nose drops can often be helpful. If you need advice on drying up your postnasal drip, ask your doctor.
- If you have nasal allergies, the frequent postnasal drip that comes with allergies can be enough to irritate your throat and cause that constant tickle.
- If you suspect this is the cause, try allergy medicines -- with your doctor's OK -- to dry up your nasal secretions.
Acid reflux is another common cause of mild throat irritation -- including a constant tickle -- and a dry cough 2. Stomach acid irritates the throat and can cause a minor chronic irritation that leads to the tickling sensation. If you suspect you have acid reflux -- especially if you have other symptoms, such as frequent heartburn or nausea -- see your doctor. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or sleeping with your head elevated, often can ease the problem. Your doctor might also prescribe medicines.
- Acid reflux is another common cause of mild throat irritation -- including a constant tickle -- and a dry cough 2.
- Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or sleeping with your head elevated, often can ease the problem.
Chest Congestion While Pregnant
A constant throat tickle, especially with a dry, unproductive cough that continues to irritate the tissues of the throat, can have other causes as well, although these are less likely 2. Some people have asthma but their only symptom is a dry cough, though this is rare 2. Another extremely rare cause is lung cancer. Although no one should jump to frightening conclusions, it's worth seeing your doctor for a diagnosis of the cause of your irritated throat and dry cough, especially if none of the common causes seem to be your problem -- and if you're a smoker or the unexplained cough persists more than a month 2.
How to Stop a Gagging Cough
Chest Congestion While Pregnant
Constant Dry Throat
How to Get Rid of a Bad, Dry Cough
Acid Reflux and Throat Symptoms
How to Cure a Dry Throat
When I Lay Down to Go to Sleep I Start Coughing
How to Get Rid of a Raspy Voice
Medical Reasons for Constant Dry Cough
How to Stop a Post Nasal Drip Cough
- NHS Direct Wales: Cough
- MedlinePlus: Cough
- MedlinePlus: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- UpToDate: Chronic Cough in Adults
- Sylvester DC, Karkos PD, Vaughan C, et al. Chronic cough, reflux, postnasal drip syndrome, and the otolaryngologist. Int J Otolaryngol. 2012;2012:564852. doi:10.1155/2012/564852
- Morice A, McGarvey L, Pavord I. Recommendations for the management of cough in adults.Thorax. 2006 Sep; 61(Suppl 1): i1–i24. doi:10.1136/thx.2006.065144
- Harle ASM, Blackhall FH, Molassiotis A, et al. Cough in Patients With Lung Cancer: A Longitudinal Observational Study of Characterization and Clinical Associations. Chest. 2019;155(1):103-113. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2018.10.003
- Bronchiectasis. Breathe (Sheff). 2018;14(1):73-80. doi:10.1183/20734735.ELF141
- Goegebuer T, Nackaerts K, Himpe U, Verbeken E, Lagrou K. Coccidioidomycosis: an unexpected diagnosis in a patient with persistent cough. Acta Clin Belg. 2009;64(3):235-8. doi:10.1179/acb.2009.042
- Ryan P, Rehman S, Prince S. Acute tongue swelling, the only initial manifestation of carotid artery dissection: a case report with differentiation of clinical picture. Ann Vasc Surg. 2015;29(2):365.e17-8. doi:10.1016/j.avsg.2014.09.029
- Lokker N, Sanders L, Perrin EM, et al. Parental misinterpretations of over-the-counter pediatric cough and cold medication labels. Pediatrics. 2009;123(6):1464-71. doi:10.1542/peds.2008-0854
- Burki, T. A Constant Chorus of Coughs. Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 2015. 3(6):434.
- National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus. Cough. Updated 02/07/18.
- Satia, I., Badri, H., Al-Sheklly, B., Smith, J., and A. Woodcock. Towards Understanding and Managing Chronic Cough. Clinical Medicine. 2016. 16(Suppl 6):s92-297.
- Soni, R., Ebersole, B., and N. Jamal. Treatment of Chronic Cough. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. 2017. 156(1):103-108.
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