4 Common Causes of an Itchy Throat

May 7th 2016

Typically, a sore throat can be adequately treated by drinking lots of warm fluids and taking over-the-counter pain relief medication if needed. Medicated throat lozenges are also often helpful to relieve symptoms. If an itchy throat doesn't subside after a week or so, see a doctor to determine if there's a more serious problem involved.

Strep Throat

A sore throat that's accompanied by a fever and swollen lymph nodes usually indicates a condition that should be taken seriously and requires a visit to a doctor. The doctor is likely to take a throat swab to do a culture that can determine whether you have been infected by the streptococcus bacterium that causes strep throat. Strep throat can quickly spread to infect the tonsils or lymph nodes.

The Common Cold

Hundreds of viruses can be responsible for the common cold, which in turn is a common cause of an itchy throat. Many people find that an itchy throat is one of the first warnings they get that they've caught a cold. If your itchy throat is caused by a cold, you're likely to experience itchy eyes as well, along with a runny nose, nasal congestion, a cough and overall fatigue. The common cold typically runs its course in about a week; if your cold and sore throat don't go away in that time, see a doctor to find out whether you've picked up a secondary infection.

Dehydration

Because dehydration can dry out the throat, it can induce itchy throat. Dehydration causes the mucus that lines the throat to become inconsistent, either disappearing or clogging the throat with overproduction. When the mucus goes away, the exposed tissue in the throat is susceptible to irritation. When the mucus clogs up, it can tickle the throat so that you constantly want to clear it, causing a different type of itchiness. Caffeine can exacerbate dehydration and should be avoided. Water intake is vital to relieving the itchy throat that's caused by dehydration.

Allergies

Seasonal allergies such as hay fever can trigger itchy throat. In this case, the throat symptoms are typically accompanied by sneezing and a clear, runny nose. Food allergies can also cause swelling and irritation in the throat; this type of allergy is often treated using antihistamines, and more severe cases may require steroids. Mild asthma, which is an immune system reaction similar to that of an allergy, often also causes itchy throat because of the coughing and wheezing accompanying it.

Conclusion

Usually, an itchy or scratchy throat just means you've caught a minor virus that is likely to go away on its own. While the most common causes of an itchy throat are not serious, the symptom itself can be irritating, and there are some cases in which an itchy throat can be a sign of something more serious. Figuring out the causes of an itchy throat can put you on the right road to learning how to treat it.

Sources

WebMD.com "Get to the bottom of your sore throat" http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/get-to-the-bottom-of-your-sore-throat?page=2
About.com "Itchy throat" http://coldflu.about.com/od/checkyoursymptoms/qt/itchythroat.htm
HealthGuidance.org "Causes and treatments for an itchy throat" http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/13177/1/Causes-and-Treatments-for-an-Itchy-Throat.html

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