Ever experienced the nagging feeling of a hair-like object stuck in your throat?
Tried swallowing and coughing and it still won’t go away? You’re not alone.
Many people complain on a regular basis about a feeling of something stuck in their throat.(1)
Often, they describe it as the feeling of a “hair” stuck in the back of their throat. Medically speaking, however, this description could apply to a number of different conditions.
If the feeling of hair in your throat won’t go away, the sensation might result from one of the following causes.
Possible causes of a feeling of hair in your throat
Something is actually in your throat
It could be the case that you have actually swallowed something.
This could have been something you ate or any number of airborne particles, including the hair from your cat or dog. While the irritant won’t necessarily cause any structural damage to your throat, there are a number of steps you can take to help relieve the irritation.
While the object may become naturally dislodged over time, a number of home remedies might ease the hair or other particles out.(2)
Eating a number of bananas (at least two or three) can often smoothly cleanse your throat of stuck particles. Swallowing a mouthful of french fries, too, can help you dislodge a hair from your throat.
Other options include drinking a warm liquid, gargling with warm water, or brushing your tongue.(3)
Once dislodged, your stomach acids should make short work of the pesky intruder, sending it out with the rest of the waste the next morning.
If the object remains in your throat, seek medical attention. Consult an ENT surgeon, who may be able to discover the exact etiology of this feeling of irritation.
Hard food scratched lining of the throat
Sometimes the sensation of feeling hair in your throat can be caused when you don’t chew something all the way and something sharp brushes up against the wall of your throat.
If this occurs, the wound should naturally heal on its own. If the unusual sensation persists, investigate other possible causes.
You are on the verge of getting sick
Sometimes you might have this feeling in your throat because you have caught a cold, developed an upper-respiratory infection, caught the flu, or have developed some other type of infection in your throat.
According to WebMd, common viral infections include:(4)
» The Common Cold
Another cause could be a bacterial infection, such as:
» Strep throat
» An inflammation of the tonsils
» Infection of tissue near the tonsils
» Inflammation of the epiglottis
» Inflammation of the uvula
» A sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
You have acid reflux disease
Acid reflux disease, also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), happens when the contents of your stomach leak upwards into your esophagus.
This can produce a number of weird feelings in your throat, including heartburn or the feeling of hair.
Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) prevents food from returning back up from the stomach into the esophagus, but sometimes this doesn’t close all the way, causing symptoms like heartburn, a feeling that food is stuck, or nausea after eating.
You can treat acid reflux disease yourself by a number of different strategies:(5)
Changes in Diet
» Avoid drinking alcohol
» Avoid caffeine, including coffee, soda, and tea
» Avoid decaf coffee
» Avoid high-acid foods, like lemons, limes, and pineapples.
» Avoid tomato-based dishes
» Avoid peppermint and spearmint.
» Stop smoking. If you have trouble quitting, talk to your doctor.
Over the counter antacids
A number of over the counter treatments exist to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. These can be taken after meals, but have a short term effect.
The side effects of such medicine (diarrhea or constipation) may not be worth the slight amount of comfort.
You might also try some of the following tips:
» Losing weight
» Avoiding aspirin or ibuprofen
» Drinking plenty of water when taking medicine.
Besides these things that you can do yourself, if your problem continues, talk to your pharmacist, doctor, or nurse about pursuing other options.
You have post-nasal drip
Your feeling might also be caused by the opposite problem, something dripping into your esophagus.
Post-nasal drip, also known as post nasal drip syndrome (PNDS) or upper airway cough syndrome (UACS), involves mucus from your nose dripping down into your throat. If you have allergies, this might be the cause of the uncanny sensation of hair in the back of your throat.
For Postnasal drip syndrome, doctors recommend taking an antihistamine.(6) Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergies and can often reduce these symptoms. If your allergies continue, you might consider seeing an allergy specialist.
Controlling your environment
Allergies are best handled by controlling your environment, making sure that you don’t come into contact with the offensive allergen.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, some common sources of allergies can be:(7)
» Dust Mites: If you keep your mattresses and pillows covered with zippered “allergy-impermeable” covers and sheets (available at your local linens retailer), you can significantly reduce the amount of dust mites in your linens. You should also clean your bedding regularly using hot water and keep your home at half humidity. Keeping carpets and upholstery clean can also keep the dust mites away.
» Pets and other animals: If your pets shed during the summer, keep your house clean of fur by regularly dusting and cleaning.
» Tobacco smoke: smoking greatly increases the effect of allergies. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble quitting.
If your allergies persist, talk to an allergist or immunologist to find the precise cause of your allergies.
The unusual sensation in your throat might also be caused by food allergies.
Some common food allergies include:(8)
» Shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab, etc.)
» Tree nuts (walnuts, pecans)
» Dairy (such as cow’s milk)
If you find this uncanny feeling in your throat after eating nuts or seafood, you might be experiencing a minor food allergy. Avoid such foods in the future.
How do I determine which of these causes is the source of irritation?
This persistent scratching of hair in your throat might be annoying, but there are plenty of steps you can take for pain relief.
Given the variety of possible causes, keep experimenting with different methods to see if it’s something unusual in your throat, a scratch to the lining of your throat, acid reflux, allergies, or post-nasal drip. Pay attention to the circumstances of this scratchy feeling.
Is the feeling constant, or does it only occur during certain parts of the day?
If constant, there might be something in your throat causing the sensation, either a lodged object or a scratch to the lining.
Does it occur alongside other allergy symptoms?
Do you experience it around furry animals?
Do your experience it after eating nuts or other common allergy imposing food items?
If so, you might simply be having allergies. On the other hand, if you feel it after eating high-acid foods or drinking coffee, you might have acid reflux disease.
When to consult your doctor
Most of the time, you won’t need to consult a doctor when feeling discomfort in the back of your throat.(9)
You should, however, seek medical attention in the following circumstances:
» If the feeling lasts longer than a week.
» If you develop a fever of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius).
» If you experience difficulty taking breaths.
» If you feel pain in your joints.
» If you develop an earache.
» If you detect a rash on your body.
» If you find blood in your mucus.
» If you discover a lump in your throat.
» If you experience a hoarseness or loss of voice that lasts longer than two weeks.
Another thing to do would be to try to visually inspect your throat. If you find any lumps or discoloration, consult your doctor immediately.
Still have that feeling of a hair in your throat?
We have looked at some of the major causes for this commonly described itchy feeling. As we have seen, this can be caused by something in your throat, a scratch on the lining of your throat, acid reflux disease, post nasal drip, or allergies.
If you experience this unusual feeling, take these steps:
» Try to remove the object from your throat
» Wait to see if the feeling persists or develops into an infection, such as a cold.
» If infrequent, pay attention to the relevant environmental and dietary factors to determine if acid reflux or post-nasal drip.
» If symptoms persist, please consult your primary care provider immediately.