The cough and itchy throat can be a quite frustrating condition caused by a lot of factors. It is usually a dry cough and sometimes an indicative of an infection or allergic reaction. A dry cough is non-productive and is quite different from chesty coughs which produce mucus. In cases where bad cough is not associated with fever or other symptoms, the cough and itchy throat may be relieved either by home treatment or by itself with rest. However, if the symptoms of itchy throat and cough are persistent and are associated with other symptoms such as fever, body ache, etc; it may indicate a serious medical condition, which must be treated with medicines.
What Are the Causes of Cough and Itchy Throat?
Allergies are among the most common causes. Inhalation of allergens such as mold spores, pollen or pet dander can trigger an allergic reaction and cause itchiness of throat. The lining of the sinuses and nose also get inflamed due to allergies. The common symptoms of this condition are nasal congestion, runny nose and postnasal drip, which may irritate the throat and lead to coughing.
Upper respiratory system infections frequently lead to cough and a scratchy throat. Often the culprit is common cold. Similar to allergies, the symptoms of common cold are runny nose and postnasal drip, which may irritate the throat and trigger coughing. The symptoms of common cold peak in the initial 3 to 4 days and then gradually go away within a week to 10 days. Similar symptoms may be caused due to bacterial infections, but they remain longer and may be associated with fever and headache or facial pressure.
Cough and discomfort in throat can be caused by the exposure to inhaled irritants. Throat can be irritated by a vast number of airborne fumes and particulates. A common example is tobacco smoke, even secondhand smoke. Other irritants are traffic fumes, factory emissions, chlorine or other solutions used in cleaning. Inhalation of these chemical irritants can cause inflammation of the throat lining and lead to discomfort and cough.
In hay fever, large quantities of histamine are triggered in the body by the presence of pollen. Histamine causes inflammation of the respiratory tract leading to itchy throat and cough.
Sleep with Mouth Open
You can have difficulty in breathing through your nose due to numerous reasons such as nasal congestion, sleep apnea, nasal polyps and sinusitis. Inability to breathe through nose will cause you to sleep with your mouth open. Breathing through mouth in association with artificially warmed air in winters will cause cough and itchy throat.
Side Effects of Medicines
Certain medicines such as those used for hypertension can cause a dry cough.
Nerves and Stress
It is quite common for individuals to cough when in a stressful environment. The shallow breathing in association with anxiety triggers the cough reflex in this situation.
How to Relieve Cough and Itchy Throat
Gargle with Salt Water
Mix ½ tsp. of salt with 8 ounces of warm water.
Gargle with this water for 10 seconds, then spit. The excess phlegm and inflammation in the throat are reduced by the salt.
Repeat this at least 2-3 times a day.
Honey is a natural remedy for itchy throat as it forms a coating on the throat and relieves irritation and itchiness.
Eat a tbsp. of honey every morning for best results.
Use local, raw honey when possible.
You can stir a tbsp. of honey into your tea if you are not able to eat it raw.
Honey should not be given to infants below the age of 12 months as the bacteria present in honey can lead to a medical condition referred to as infant botulism, which may cause death.
Drink Tea Made of Lemon, Honey and Ginger
Mix a tbsp. of honey to a cup of hot water.
Then put 1 tbsp. of fresh squeezed lemon juice in it.
Finally, grate some ginger and mix well. Drink this tea several times a day.
Drink Turmeric with Milk
Boil a glass of milk with a tbsp. of turmeric.
Let it cool and drink it before bedtime.
It can effectively soothe itchy throat and cough.
Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of hot water. Sip it slowly.
You can add 1 tbsp. of honey in it.
Use a Humidifier
Living in a dry environment can result in itchy throat. Using a humidifier will add moisture to the air and help sooth an itchy throat.
Select an appropriate face mask with the help of your pharmacist or physician and wear it to prevent further irritation of throat. It will help you to avoid exposure to inhaled irritants such as pollutants, smoke or dust.
Over the Counter Medicines
A number of over-the-counter medicines are available to relieve itchy throat. Some of these are Guaifenesin (brand name Robitussin), antihistamines for relieving allergies, nasal saline sprays, and various OTC lozenges and gargles. If the cause of your throat irritation is acid reflux then OTC antacids and H2 blockers are also effective. If you have a history of problems with OTC medicines, then consult your physician before taking any medicine for your itchy throat.
When to See a Doctor
In majority of the cases, itchy throat and cough are temporary and caused by minor illnesses and will be relieved without any medical treatment within a week. If your symptoms do not get better after a week, even become severe or worse, visit your physician to determine the cause and treatment, especially if you have symptoms of:
A lump in the throat or swelling in glands
Difficulty in swallowing or painful swallowing
Unintentional weight loss
Pain in chest
Blood in sputum
If you are having difficulty in breathing, seek emergency medical care.