Itching throat

Originally Published: January 27, 1995 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 16, 2014
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Alice,

How do I get rid of an itching throat?

—Choking

Dear Choking,

There are really two things to consider here: "itchy vs. scratchy." First, an itching throat is that uncomfortable and strange feeling often associated with allergies. An itchy throat could be triggered by seasonal allergies such as pollen or grass, or a more permanent home or work allergen such as dust mites or pet dander. Numerous over-the-counter medications exist, many with potential side effects which could cause any of the "-esses" from drowsiness to nervousness. In the dry winter months, you may want to consider a humidifier to add moisture to the air, especially overnight. 

If your throat is more sore than itchy, you may feel a rough or raw feeling in the back of your throat that causes discomfort, especially when swallowing. There are many possible causes of a sore throat, including an indication or first symptom of an impending cold, flu, or laryngitis. Try gargling with salt water (a quarter teaspoon in four ounces of water) every one to two hours or use throat lozenges, cough drops, or hard candies to keep your throat moist. Drink plenty of liquids to soothe your inflamed throat — try a comforting cup of herbal tea with honey to coat your throat. You can also use lozenges, sprays, or gargles that contain an anesthetic to temporarily numb your throat and make swallowing less painful.

If either a sore or itching throat persists, it may be best to schedule visit with your health care provider to explore causes and treatment. Columbia students, you can make an appointment by contacting Medical Services (Morningside) or the Student Health Service (CUMC).

Alice