At some point in life, most people are likely to experience the annoyance of an itchy throat. Most of the time, an itchy or irritated throat is associated with allergies. However, the root cause of an itchy throat can differ from time to time. So, what does it actually mean when your throat itches?
According to Medical News Today, one of the most common causes of an itchy throat is hay fever. Also known by it’s medical term allergic rhinitis, which, “happens when the body overreacts to an otherwise harmless substance, releasing a chemical called histamine that causes these overreactions.”
Allergic rhinitis is thought to affect between 40 and 60 million Americans (via ACAAI), and can be brought on by exposure to pollen, dust, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, and other airborne irritants. Common symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as an itchy throat, usually occur throughout spring, summer, and the early weeks of fall.
Here's when to seek medical attention
According to Healthline, an itchy throat can also be attributed to food allergies. Although an itchy throat doesn’t generally require medical attention, a doctor might recommend allergy testing if a sore or itchy throat persists. As the outlet explains, this usually involves, “exposing the skin to small amounts of known irritants. If the skin reacts to a particular irritant, this indicates an allergy.”
Other potential causes of an itchy throat include allergies to certain medications (such as penicillin and other antibiotics), bacterial and viral infections, dehydration, and acid reflux (via Medical News Today).
According to Best Health, effective at-home itchy throat remedies include gargling saltwater (which works as a mild antiseptic) or baking-soda solution, ingesting honey, vitamin C, and garlic, and investing in a bedroom humidifier. Elsewhere, lozenges and throat sprays are also known to help ease symptoms of an itchy throat. However, they must contain the active ingredients benzocaine, eucalyptus oil, and menthol to be considered effective (via Healthline).
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