Dealing with a scratchy throat? This persistent symptom can be a sign of allergies. In this article, we’ll look at the causes of scratchy throats due to allergies, possible treatments, and how long symptoms may last.
Why Do Allergies Make Your Throat Scratchy?
When you have allergies, your body mistakes certain allergens as dangerous threats to your immune system. Your body releases a chemical called histamine, which triggers an allergy response. This can cause an excess production of mucus, which can cause a scratchy throat.
Post-nasal drip is the main reason sore throats develop due to allergies. When excess mucus makes its way down the back of your throat, it can cause a tickling sensation that leads to coughing and scratching. Additionally, the nose and sinus cavities may become swollen due to inflammation, which can lead to pain in the throat and discomfort when swallowing.
Other symptoms of allergies can contribute to a sore throat as well, including dryness and irritation caused by the presence of airborne particles. Allergens like pollen, animal dander, and particles from dust mites are common allergy triggers that can cause inflammation in the nasal passages, leading to a sore throat.
How Long Does A Scratchy Throat From Allergies Last?
There's no single answer to this question; the length of time a scratchy throat - or any other allergy symptom - lasts depends largely on the individual experiencing it. In most cases, the symptoms begin to subside as treatment is administered, or after the allergen is removed from the environment.
For those with sensitivities to common allergens like pollen, this can mean a window of around six weeks in the spring and fall unless you have an effective treatment plan.
What Else Causes Scratchy Throat?
While allergies are a common reason for a scratchy throat, they aren't the only cause. Several other viral and circumstantial influences can also be to blame, so it’s important to know what caused your symptoms. The following is a breakdown of some of the most common.
The common cold is a contagious virus that can lead to a sore throat. Symptoms of the cold may last up to two weeks, but they should start to ease after seven days.
The flu, or influenza, is a more severe version of the common cold that can produce much worse symptoms. It, too, is responsible for a sore throat.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid rises into the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in the throat. This can result in a continual sore, scratchy throat that lasts for weeks or months.
Smoking and Dry Air
Smoking cigarettes can irritate the throat while breathing in dry air can cause it to become dry and scratchy. Both of these can be avoided by avoiding smoking and using a humidifier in dry weather.
In some cases, excessive or intensive breathing from the mouth can lead to a sore throat due to the drying effect that it has on the internal lining of the mouth and throat.
When we use our voices too much, or inappropriately, it can lead to swelling and irritation of the vocal cords. This can cause a scratchy throat and other symptoms.
COVID-19 can cause a sore throat in addition to other respiratory symptoms. In some cases, it may also be accompanied by a fever. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention.
Diagnosing a sore throat caused by allergies comes down to taking an allergy test. There are a couple of ways to do so, both of which we've explained below.
Skin Prick Test
Skin prick testing involves physically administering small doses of allergens into the skin and observing how it reacts. It requires a trip to the doctor's office and can be an uncomfortable experience. This method of testing has long been the standard for diagnosing the cause of allergy symptoms and is generally effective. The main downside to it is that it both takes time out of your day and can result in the itchiness, redness, or swelling of pricked skin.
At-Home Allergy Test
At-home testing is a modern, yet just-as-effective alternative to conventional skin prick tests. Here's how it works:
- Order Wyndly’s at-home allergy test. We'll ship our CLIA-certified kit straight to your door within days.
- Take the test and send it back. Gently prick your finger once to draw a small blood sample and mail it back when you're done.
- Receive your personal allergy profile. Our doctors interpret your allergy profile for you and create a personalized treatment plan.
One of the best aspects of at-home allergy testing is that it can reveal the full breadth of your allergies. Unlike self-diagnosis, Wyndly's kit takes the guesswork out of your symptoms and provides you with clear, actionable takeaways.
How to Treat A Scratchy Throat From Allergies
A sore throat from allergies can be treated with both home-based and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies.
Applying a cool compress to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and alleviate scratchiness. It's best to use cold water– not hot– to avoid burning the skin.
Opting to use home-based and natural remedies can help reduce the need for OTC medications. These options are both accessible and easy to use, making them a great first line of defense against a sore throat. Below are some of the most popular natural remedies:
Honey has long been used to soothe a sore throat and reduce inflammation. It contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a popular natural remedy. To try it out, mix a tablespoon of honey with warm water and drink the mixture. You can also just eat honey straight from the spoon.
Humidifiers help keep the air moist, which can make breathing easier and reduce sore throat symptoms. To get the most out of them, it's best to use a cool mist humidifier. Hotter temperatures can further dry out the skin and make your throat worse.
Sipping on a hot cup of tea can provide relief from a scratchy throat. It's best to use calming, herbal teas rather than caffeinated varieties as the latter can act as a diuretic and dehydrate your throat even further.
Salt Water Gargle
Gargling salt water can reduce the swelling in the throat and can alleviate discomfort from scratchiness. Mix one teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water and gargle it for 30 seconds. The salt helps reduce inflammation and draw fluid out of the swollen tissue in your throat.
If home remedies aren’t working, you can always turn to OTC medications. These are readily available at pharmacies and provide fast, targeted relief from scratchy throat symptoms. While OTC medications can be helpful for temporarily relieving a scratchy throat, it is important to note that they only provide short-term allergy relief. Popular OTC options include:
Lozenges and Cough Drops
Cough drops and lozenges provide temporary relief by coating the throat, numbing it, and making it easier to swallow. They also often contain menthol which can soothe the area.
Decongestants are used to reduce swelling in the throat, allowing you to breathe easier. They come in both oral and nasal sprays and can provide fast relief from sore throat symptoms.
Antihistamines block the release of histamine, a chemical responsible for many allergy symptoms such as a scratchy throat. They provide quick relief from the symptoms and last much longer than cough drops or lozenges.
Oral Steroid Spray
Oral steroid sprays can reduce inflammation in the throat while providing fast relief. These medications are generally safe to use, but it’s important to take them as directed and consult your doctor if you experience any side effects.
It's important to note that treating a sore throat from allergies is only part of the process; it's necessary to identify and address the allergy itself to properly manage symptoms and get long-term relief.
Sublingual immunotherapy is an effective way to treat allergies without the need for painful injections or frequent visits to the doctor’s office. Sublingual immunotherapy, also known as allergy drops or allergy tablets, is placed under the tongue and slowly introduces small, gradually increasing amounts of the allergen to your immune system. Over time, this re-trains your immune system to ignore these harmless allergy triggers as opposed to responding with an allergic reaction. This can help reduce scratchy throat symptoms associated with allergies.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
If you're looking for a comprehensive solution to treating your allergies and reducing sore throat symptoms, look no further than Wyndly. Our doctors will help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you long-term relief without painful needles or frequent trips to the doctor’s office.
Take our free online allergy assessment today and get on the path to a scratchy throat-free life!