Why You Have an Itchy Throat – Causes, Treatments – Men’s Health

An itchy throat can be one of the most annoying symptoms to deal with these days, especially because it likely leads you to immediately question Is it because of XYZ reasonor is it Covid?

While a sore or scratchy throat can most certainly be a sign that you have Covid-19, there are also a number of other less worrisome causes that could be the culprit, says Suneet Singh, M.D., an emergency medicine physician and medical director at CareHive Health in Austin, Texas. Whatever the case, we dont blame you for wanting to squash that uncomfortable feeling that leads to mute yourself during a Zoom meeting while you cough and frantically grab your glass of water.

According to Dr. Singh, while mildly itchy throats are a common experience, sore throats are even more common, so its important to figure out what youre dealing with. Both are caused by inflammation of the mucous membrane lining of the back of the throat. The good news is that its typically nothing to be alarmed about.

Itchy throats are typically caused by allergies, the most common of which is hay fever or seasonal allergies, he explains. Sometimes, though, it can be the result of food or drug allergies, [but if not], they can be brought on by viral or bacterial infections, just like sore throats.

In addition to infections, sore throats and itchy throats may be the result of chemical irritation such as when youre experiencing acid reflux, or if youre exposed to tobacco smoke or cleaning product fumes, he adds.

Sometimes, itchy throats are the result of "oral allergy syndrome," or "pollen food allergy syndrome." Generally, this happens when someone with a seasonal allergy has a reaction in their mouth and throat to a fruit or vegetable that contains a similar protein. (So, for instance, someone with an allergy to ragweed might have an itchy throat when they eat bananas.) If things go far beyond an itchy throat and you suspect a major allergic food reactionyour throat gets hoarse or feels like it's closing up right after you eat something and you have any other symptoms of a severe allergic reaction throughout your body, like hives, shortness of breath, weak pulse, dizziness or feeling faint, (see a whole list here)then you need to call 911. But mild but annoying throat itching can often be dealt with at home.

If your symptoms are mild and you know that you tend to experience seasonal allergies, you can typically manage your itchy throat yourself, Dr. Singh says. Some home remedies include:

Of course, theres always the possibility an itchy or sore throat can be a sign of something more serious, such as the flu or even Covid-19. If youre experiencing other mild symptoms such as a runny nose, cough or headache, it certainly wouldnt hurt to do an at-home rapid Covid test, or visit a local testing site.

According to Dr. Singh, if you experience an itchy or sore throat with any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention:

Your healthcare professional will work with you to determine what type of testing is needed, [which could include] a throat swab (or multiple throat swabs) to check for bacterial infections such as strep or viral infections such as COVID, he says. In some instances, based on the severity of the symptoms as well as the overall clinical presentation, imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans may be indicated.

The bottom line: Use your judgment to determine if youre dealing with the mild nuisance of an itchy or scratchy throat, or if youre experiencing other symptoms that could indicate something more serious. Even if its just a cold, stay home and isolate if you think you may be contagious, and see a doctor if you experience severe symptoms as described above.

Emilia Benton is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor. In addition to Women's Health, she has contributed health, fitness and wellness content to Runner's World, SELF, Prevention, Healthline, and POPSUGAR, among other publications. She is also a 10-time marathoner, frequent traveler and avid amateur baker.

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Why You Have an Itchy Throat - Causes, Treatments - Men's Health

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