What Causes a Throat Tickle?

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  • Written By: Deborah Walker
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2019
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A throat tickle can be caused by a wide variety of things. Sometimes a tickling, scratchy throat can indicate the onset of a cold. Allergies to foods or food additives, and environmental allergies to smoke, dust mites, mold, or pollen, can result in an itchy, tickling throat. Post-nasal drip or a dry throat can irritate the throat and cause a tickle. Various home remedies have been suggested that may address this condition.

Some people notice a throat tickle right before a sore throat or other cold symptoms appear. If the cold is accompanied by a cough, the tickle may be caused by the scratching of the throat's lining as the air is expelled from the lungs. Each time a person coughs, the lining of the throat is scratched and initiates another round of a throat tickle.

Allergies to nuts, shellfish and other foods are quite common. Environmental allergies to pollen, dust, and other airborne substances are also very prevalent. Allergies can result in an itchy, stuffy nose and cause post-nasal drip, i.e. excess mucous that drips from the sinuses down the back of the throat. Post-nasal drip is one of the most common causes of throat irritation.


Remedies for an irritated, scratchy throat are quite varied. Sometimes simply drinking water will ease the symptoms. Over-the-counter cold lozenges have also been known to help this condition.

Some home remedies for a throat tickle are quite unique. According to one folk remedy, a good way to deal with a tickling throat is to chew on whole cloves. Other people say that eating a piece of very well-toasted bread without butter or jam is guaranteed to bring relief. Hot water mixed with honey and lemon juice is another commonly recommended throat remedy. Aloe vera juice mixed with water and used as a gargle works to relieve a throat tickle, according to some folk wisdom.

Throat remedies involving apple cider vinegar, in combination with various other ingredients, are widely used. Apple cider vinegar mixed into a glass of water, sipping as needed, has been used to relieve a scratchy throat. Crushed vitamin C mixed with apple cider vinegar may work to stop a throat tickle when used as a gargle several times a day. Another apple cider vinegar cure calls for mixing apple cider vinegar, honey, and ground cayenne pepper and using it as a mouth rinse or gargle throughout the day.

If the throat tickle does not go away with home treatment, a visit to the doctor may be necessary. The physician can do an examination to determine the cause of the throat tickle. In some instances, the doctor might write a prescription for a particular medication that could help. If the cause of the throat tickle is not apparent, the doctor can make a referral to a specialist.


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Post 11

I've had an itchy, scratchy throat for nearly a year now. It comes and goes, but recently has gotten worse and is waking me up out of sleep now, as I'm coughing to scratch it.

I take a cetirizine anti-histamine every day, suck lozenges etc., but nothing works now. Water pours out of my eyes when it happens, so I can't wear make up anymore. Any time I mention it to docs they either ignore me or look at me as if I'm stupid. I'm so fed up with it all.

Post 10

I have had a post nasal drip/severe throat tickle problem for three years now. I just can't get relief from it. Coughing all the time. The more I try to suppress it, the harder I end up coughing. While my friends think it's related to some type of allergy, I'm certain it has to go back to when I went on the space ship. I can't remember much, but I know they did something and I wish they would come back and fix it because I just can't sleep at night anymore.

Post 9

I have a tickling chest and I have just eaten bacon. Is this a bad sign or am I just overreacting? Please help because it is really worrying me so much.

Post 8

My ongoing ticklish throat, fever and prolonged harsh coughing is caused by my swollen heart that is leaking fluids into the lungs. A doctor thought it was pneumonia until he saw the X-rays and read the test results. Now I need to be tested thoroughly.

Post 5

My throat problem may be a little different. It happens just so often it is a tickle feeling, but it feels like the back of my throat is closing, I can't get any mucus to go down and it feels like I can't get air in my lungs so I go grab something to drink until it loosens up. Any idea? Help! It happens at night while I am sleeping and I jerk up because I can't breathe!

Post 4

I have had a throat tickle since January and I get it every year at the same time. This has gone on for the past 10 years. It is so annoying and leads to huge coughing fits consistently throughout the day. I can't seem to get rid of it, and the doctors just look at me like I'm stupid. So annoying!

Post 3

My throat tickle dates from October 2008 and has been constant since. Sleeping is a real problem. I have had about two years of treatment covering all the causes recognized by the NHS in Britain. I am certain the tickle is related to a mucus discharge from my sinuses but I have also been treated for allergies, asthma and stomach reflux. Nothing makes any real difference.

I developed catarrh in April 1957 when, as a schoolboy, I was given a very damp room to sleep in. Having been previously completely free of catarrh, I awoke on the first morning in that room with a discharge from my nose that I thought unreal -- or rather, it was ‘reel’ -- I was reeling

a continuous fat thread of yellow mucus from my nose for days and weeks until the summer brought some diminution to the rate of discharge. I have never been free of catarrh since (i.e. since 1957) and I am sure that the tickle I have experienced since Oct 2008 is related to this chronic condition.

The tickle started when I caught a bad cold, in Oct 2008, involving much coughing which may have sensitized my throat to the mucus flowing down it. In any event, since that cold I have had a continuous tickle in my throat. When I first awake in the morning (assuming I have been to sleep at all that night!), my mouth is dry and coated with mucus but I do not have a tickle. The tickle, however, soon returns once I am in a vertical position and gravity takes control of the flow of mucus down my throat again.

Medications appear not to help but I do now use a non-prescription anesthetic spray applied to the back of the throat --it may help me sleep but not tonight. Can anyone help?

Post 2

@donbri5--A few things that have helped me with the nasal drip and throat tickle combo are ecinachea and aloe vera. They both help the immune system fight infection from both viral and bacterial bugs. Another thing I try to do is something called a neti pot. If you can break up some of the mucus in the throat, your tickle should improve. I got these ideas from my naturopathic doctor and they are helping me get through the winter. Feel better!

Post 1

I looked up cures for a throat tickle not realizing it could be related to the post nasal drip I have experienced. I like the idea that they might be related to an allergy of some kind. I am excited to try some of these folk remedies. I hope they will inadvertently help with the nasal congestion as well, like the cayenne pepper! Does anyone know of a remedy that will help both?

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