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An uncomfortable feeling in the throat may be described as a throat tickle. This is usually from an irritation of the mucous membranes of the throat, the esophagus, or the trachea.

A throat tickle is likely linked to a medical condition or something in your environment. You may experience the symptom because of extra mucous in the throat or because of an outside irritant like smoke.

Often, a throat tickle will clear up on its own with proper care. Sometimes, however, you should see your doctor for a medical diagnosis and treatment plan.

You can try treatments at home if you suspect that your throat tickle is a symptom of a non-serious health condition or an outside trigger.

You shouldn’t delay medical treatment if your throat tickle is accompanied by other, more serious symptoms such as high fever, chills, or breathing difficulties.

To ease a throat tickle, try the following:

  • Gargle with salt water. Add no more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of water and gargle it in your mouth. Spit it out after you have gargled for a short amount of time.
  • Suck on a throat lozenge. Lozenges and even hard candies can help stimulate saliva production, which can keep your throat moist and relieve the tickle.
  • Take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. You may want to try an OTC pain reliever or a throat spray.
  • Get extra rest. Don’t push your body too hard if you believe the tickle is the result of your body fighting off a virus. This includes taking it easy during waking hours and getting more sleep during the night.
  • Drink clear liquids. Try water and even warm beverages like herbal tea. Skip alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. These substances can cause dehydration and dry your throat.
  • Add moisture and heat to the air. Dry, cold air can often cause your throat to feel uncomfortable. Try adding a humidifier to your room as well as bumping up the thermostat to a reasonable temperature. This will also help calm irritated airways.
  • Steer clear of known triggers. You may be aware that exposure to certain elements can cause your throat to tickle. These may include allergens like pollen or dust.

There are many potential causes of a throat tickle:

External factors

You may experience a throat tickle because of exposure to something that occurs outside of your body. These factors may include:

  • cold, dry air
  • air pollution caused by traffic, smoke, or chemicals
  • firsthand or secondhand smoke from cigarettes

Try to avoid contact with these external factors to reduce your chances of developing a throat tickle.


This condition is the medical term for a sore throat. It’s the result of an inflamed pharynx, also known as your throat. This may be the result of a virus or bacteria that gets into your body, such as a cold or group A streptococcus. Learn more about pharyngitis.


A throat tickle may be a sign that you have laryngitis. One of the most common results of laryngitis is losing your voice. This condition can occur if you’ve strained your vocal cords by yelling, raising your voice in a loud environment, or talking for hours at a time.

Laryngitis can also be caused by viral and bacterial infections. Learn more about laryngitis.

Common cold

A common cold may be the source of your throat tickle. This viral condition causes symptoms in your upper respiratory tract, including your throat. A cold symptom that may lead to a throat tickle is postnasal drip, which causes mucus to run down the back of your throat.

Symptoms typically last no longer than 7 to 10 days. A severe or lingering cold may be the sign of another condition like influenza or sinusitis. Learn more about the common cold.


Your throat tickle could be affected by a host of different allergies. Allergies occur when your body releases antibodies to defend itself from a foreign substance. You can experience an allergic reaction from a wide range of elements, including pollen, pet dander, insect stings, mold, foods, medicines, and more.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction will vary, but an itchy throat is a common symptom of allergic rhinitis and food allergies. See a doctor immediately for extreme allergic reactions that result in the closing of the throat or loss of consciousness. These could be signs of anaphylaxis. Learn more about allergies.


A throat tickle caused by postnasal drip may be sinusitis if it’s accompanied by:

  • nasal congestion
  • pain and pressure in your face
  • chronic cough

Also known as a sinus infection, this condition can last for weeks or even months. It may recur multiple times in a year. Sinusitis may begin as a viral infection, but you may also develop a bacterial or fungal infection during the course of the condition.

You may suspect sinusitis after a common cold lingers for longer than a week. Learn more about sinusitis.

Acid reflux

It may surprise you, but stomach acid could result in your throat tickling.

If you have acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the acid in your stomach can creep back up your esophagus, causing a tickling feeling. This occurs when the opening between your esophagus and stomach does not close tightly.

This condition can be the result of overeating, eating certain foods, or lying down too soon after eating. Many people have acid reflux from time to time and treat it at home.

Frequent reflux should be diagnosed and treated by your doctor to avoid damage to your esophagus. Learn more about GERD.

Throat cancer

A throat tickle could be a sign of a more serious condition like throat cancer. You may be more susceptible to this condition if you drink alcohol and smoke or if you have human papillomavirus. This condition may include other symptoms such as:

  • weight loss
  • changes to your voice
  • lumps near your throat

See your doctor immediately if you suspect you have throat cancer. Learn more about throat cancer.

There are many causes of a throat tickle. It may be caused by something minor like a common cold. It could be a sign of a more serious condition, like GERD or throat cancer.

You can try home treatments to relieve the tickle. You should see a doctor if the condition lingers or is accompanied by more severe symptoms.