What is throat clearing?

Throat clearing is an instinctive attempt to remove an irritant in the throat by consciously or unconsciously vibrating the muscles in your throat, especially your voice box (larynx). Throat clearing is something everyone does once in a while. It becomes a symptom of a medical problem only when it is a response to persistent irritation or discomfort in the throat.

Sensations that induce throat clearing may take the form of minor pain, an itchy feeling, or a feeling of something stuck in the throat. This discomfort may be specific to a structure within the throat, such as your tonsils or voice box (larynx), or the back of the tongue.

Conditions that can cause throat clearing include a nervous tic, an infectious disease of the throat, a recent injury to the throat, or a noninfectious condition.

Throat clearing, in itself, is not life threatening and may resolve on its own. However, if the discomfort that causes you to keep clearing your throat lasts more than a week or two, and if it is accompanied by other symptoms, you should contact a medical professional to identify the cause. Seek prompt medical care if you have a persistent lump at the back of your tongue or in your throat; a raised, scaly, or thickened area on the back of the tongue or in your throat; white patches on your tonsils; a persistent cough; or a persistent fever.


What other symptoms might occur with throat clearing?

Throat clearing may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the throat may also involve other body systems.

Throat symptoms that may occur along with throat clearing

Throat clearing may accompany other symptoms affecting the throat including:


What causes throat clearing?

Conditions that cause throat clearing can include an infectious disease, scar tissue or irritated tissue from a recent injury to the throat or an injury that is healing, an obstruction, or a noninfectious condition.

Infectious causes of throat clearing

Throat clearing may be caused by infectious disorders including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Ear, Nose and Throat

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