Scratchy Throat

What is a Scratchy Throat?

Scratchy Throat is the feeling of irritation and itchiness at the back of the throat area, which may cause discomfort and alter your ability to swallow something or even utter a word. However common or mild they may be, scratchy throats can be annoying and sometimes become very sore.

It is therefore important to pay even the least attention whenever it occurs to curb its severity.

Scratchy Throat



Persons with problems in their throat may experience similar symptoms such as:

  • Frequent passage of thin mucus from nostrils which is mostly referred to as ‘running nose’. This is more evident as you cannot do without a handkerchief even after a minute.
  • Coughing and sneezing are common signs in throat related problems. Some coughs can be very dry that it may even be choking.
  • A scratchy throat can cause pain especially when swallowing anything including saliva.
  • Breathing difficulties is also common and may force you to want to breathe through mouth.
  • There can be cases of a mild fever.

In some cases, the throat can be hoarse that there is pain in your belly as you cough. These symptoms may however rest out on themselves but if you experience prolonged headache, facial pain, high fever, swollen glands and very thick mucus out of a cough, it is important you consider seeing your doctor because it could be something serious.

Severe symptoms may be as a result of viral infection, sinusitis, viral pneumonia, pharyngitis, tonsils and strep throat. In this case, the symptoms could be;

  • Swollen tonsils with pus
  • Very severe throat pain
  • Thyroid glands may be swollen
  • There will be no running nose or cough
  • The neck area under chin can be sensitive to touch and appear swollen.


An irritant throat may occur when there is a tingling sensation on the sensitive part of throat especially by thick mucus produced at the postnasal area. The following may be the main causes of that throat discomfort:

  • Flu or common cold may lead to increased coughing, sneezing and runny nose which results to throat aggravation.
  • Infection of the postnasal drip whereby the mucus that is supposed to be thin and clear thickens and eventually causes irritation as it drips through the nasal cavity
  • Screaming/yelling and talking too much may result to a hoarse throat. This is also common among those people who participate in choirs since they strain their throats for a long period.
  • It can also be due to allergies
  • Heating and air conditioning may increase breathing of dry air down the throat leading to irritation
  • Prolonged coughs may also result to aggravation in the throat
  • Inhalation of smoke can lead to a long cough scratching the throat
  • Viral and bacterial infections leading to pharyngitis can be a root cause
  • Long period of breathing through mouth can irritate throat as the mouth cavity does not have mucus or hair to purify air passing through it hence giving room for infections
  • Heartburns or gastroesophageal reflux may cause an itchy throat especially if the acid reaches the lining of the throat.

Is it Just the Common Sore Throat?

You can have that scratchy feeling in the throat, which could be due to seasonal allergies, dry winter air, or a plain old cold. That’s fine, but it could also be a more serious thing like a strep, viral infection, bacterial infection, or something else.

Probably, your doctor is the best placed person to tell what’s happening at the back of your throat. However, there a number of things you may want to look out for so that you prepare yourself and take appropriate measures:

Examine the throat

You can use a flashlight and look in the mirror. When you open the mouth and look at the back of your throat, you might get some clues about what’s happening inside there. You could notice some white dots and patches in your throat.

The tonsils might be swollen and red. If you notice these signs, it could be a bacterial infection, for example oral thrush or strep throat.

It might also indicate a viral infection such as mononucleosis or oral herpes. The white dots and patches could also be signifying something else such as tonsil stones that are as a result of painful calcium deposits occurring in the throat.


It is likely that you will have mild fever if you have cold. However, if the temperature is over 101 F, then it could mean an infection of the throat such as strep.

Presence of a rash

If you notice a rash around your chest and neck, it could be a bacterial infection. If the rash is spreading to other parts of the body, that may be streptococcal bacterial infections.

Such infections may include scarlet fever, toxic shock syndrome, and bacteremia, where bacteria is found in blood. In all these cases, they are serious and they require treatment with use of antibiotics.

Swollen lymph nodes

If you are having swollen lymph nodes, it is likely an infection from bacterial or virus. The swelling of lymph nodes occurs as part of the body defense system. Lymph nodes will trap and destroy pathogens and germs. They will swell to signal the start of the fight.

To see if the lymph nodes are swollen just feel under the jaw or touch the side of your neck. But remember that while swollen lymph nodes may indicate an infection, they could also occur when you have common cold. So, sometimes, they may not mean anything serious.

See if you have cold symptoms

If the nose is drippy and you are coughing along with soreness of the throat, then things may not be so bad. It is probably the common cold or post-nasal drip and not something very serious.

Pain in your throat

If you are having pain that is severe and causing problems when swallowing, it could be strep throat, which is a bacterial infection. The pain may go away, but at other times, it may not get better. Strep throat could cause other symptoms such as headaches, loss of appetite, and pain in stomach.

Bacterial infection

When you have a bacterial infection and common sore throat, it might feel the same, however, these are different infections. With sore throats, they are mainly as a result of virus such as the cold virus and no medications may be needed

you just have to leave the body to naturally fight off the infection and heal on its own. However, if it is a case of bacterial infection, antibiotics should be administered to you to stop the spread of the infection, for example strep throat.


Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Usually, a majority of throat irritation are caused by common cold virus, and these tend to subside on their own. Therefore, you have to let the body work out its way of healing itself.

A considerable number of cases involving scratchy throat may implicate bacterial infection such as strep throat. If that is the case, then antibiotics have to be given.

You should be careful when taking antibiotics because improper use can result in resistance of the bacteria to the drug. You should make sure you finish the dose in the recommended days even if the symptoms subside or go a away.

If it’s gastoesophageal reflux disease or GERD that is causing scratchy throat, it may be treated using antacids that help neutralize stomach acid. These medications include Gaviscon, Mylanta, Maalox, and Gelusil. Others like Tums and Rolaids can offer quick relief.


Give a rest to your throat and voice

Minimize talking too much and shouting your throat out. Taking a nap for a couple of hours and speaking less can help reduce the feeling of irritation.

Increased fluid intake

Taking small amounts of water at regular intervals can help rest the disturbing throat. Water can moisten the throat which in most cases is dry and hence reduce inflammations. While others may prefer ice cold water, warm water can work well especially in colds.

Salt water gargling

This can be helpful as salt acts as an antibacterial clearing off any infectious bacteria around the throat

Avoid inhaled inhalants

Various allergens such as smoke, dust and airborne grains can be irritating if inhaled. Both active and passive smokers can suffer from throat infections.

Moistened air

If the problem is as a result of dry air, it is important to use a humidifier in your room so that to allow for breathing of moist air.

Warm beverages

Taking warm tea, coffee, lemon or soup can have a soothing effect on the throat


Sucking on lozenges can help relief pain. They come both medicated and non- medicated with the medicated one being more effective as it may consist of antibiotics. Its only recommended for adults.

Antihistamines, saline nasal sprays can also be used for treatment.

For immunity purposes, it is recommended to include vitamin C rich foods in your diet especially if heartburns are involved.

Minimizing alcohol consumption and replacing it with herbal drinks and fruit juices can help manage frequent throat related problems.

Reference List

  1. 7 Scratchy Throat Remedies and Some of The Common Causes.
  2. Itchy Throat-Symptoms, Management and Treatment.
  3. Sore Throat Symptoms: Burning, Scratchy Throat and More-web Md.
  4. Get to the Bottom of Your Sore Throat.
  5. Throat Irritation.

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