Itchy Throat Cough: Causes, Remedies and Prevention

Wyndly Care Team
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How do you get rid of an itchy throat and cough?

To get rid of an itchy throat and cough, consider using over-the-counter cough suppressants, antihistamines, or lozenges. Hydration through warm liquids like tea or soup can also help. If symptoms persist, seek medical advice as it could indicate a more serious condition or allergy.

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What Causes an Itchy Throat Cough?

Several factors can lead to an itchy throat cough, including allergies, infections, dry air, acid reflux, and certain medications. Each of these causes has different triggers and may require different treatments.

Allergies and Itchy Throat

Allergies can cause an itchy throat and cough, especially in those sensitive to airborne allergens like pollen, dust mites, mold, or pet dander. Allergic rhinitis is a common cause of itchy throat and cough. Allergic reactions trigger the release of histamine, causing inflammation and itchiness in the throat. This can lead to a persistent cough, often exacerbated by post-nasal drip or asthma. Allergies can indeed cause a scratchy throat, and they might also lead to coughing in children.


Viral infections such as the common cold, flu, or COVID-19, as well as bacterial infections like strep throat, can cause an itchy throat cough. Infections cause inflammation of the mucous membranes in the throat, leading to itchiness and a dry, hacking cough. Sinus infections can cause post-nasal drip, which exacerbates these symptoms.

Dry Air

Dry air, especially during winter or in arid climates, can dry out the throat and nasal passages, leading to itchiness and a dry cough. This can also be a problem for people who breathe through their mouth while sleeping or who work in buildings with dry, recirculated air.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing inflammation and a burning sensation in the throat. This can lead to an itchy throat and a chronic cough, especially after eating or lying down.


Certain medications, particularly angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors used for treating hypertension, can cause an itchy throat cough. If you suspect your medication is causing your symptoms, consult with your doctor for possible alternatives.

What Symptoms Accompany an Itchy Throat Cough?

Itchy throats can be caused by various factors such as allergies, medication side effects, and dry air. Along with an itchy throat and cough, individuals may experience a range of other symptoms. These can include itchy ears, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing, which are common in both allergies and colds. Other accompanying symptoms can be more specific to the cause of the itchy throat cough.

Allergy-Related Symptoms

In addition to an itchy throat, allergies can also cause itchy ears, sneezing, and a runny nose. Post-nasal drip, a condition in which excess mucus drips down the back of the throat, can also accompany an itchy throat cough. This can cause a sensation of a lump in the throat and may lead to coughing up phlegm. In some cases, individuals with pollen allergies may even experience oral allergy syndrome, causing an itchy mouth when consuming certain foods.

Infection Related Symptoms

When an itchy throat cough is due to a viral or bacterial infection, individuals may experience symptoms such as fever, body aches, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. A sore throat can often be a sign of infection, but it's worth noting that allergies can also cause a sore throat.

Other Symptoms

Other symptoms that can accompany an itchy throat cough include a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, and shortness of breath. A tickly throat can also be a symptom that accompanies an itchy throat cough. If these symptoms persist or are severe, medical attention should be sought.

How Does Sensory Fiber Pathways Relate to Itching and Cough?

Sensory fiber pathways play a significant role in transmitting the sensation of itching and the urge to cough to the brain. Specific nerve fibers in the throat and airways send signals to the brain in response to irritants or allergens, triggering the itch and cough response.

The Role of Sensory Nerves

Sensory nerves, such as the vagus and glossopharyngeal nerves, innervate the throat's mucous membranes. When these nerves detect irritants or allergens, they send signals to the brain, which in turn triggers an itch or cough response. This can often lead to symptoms like an itchy throat and coughing up phlegm.

The Itch and Cough Reflex

The itch and cough reflex are protective mechanisms of the body. When the sensory nerves in the throat and airways are stimulated, they trigger a cough reflex to expel the irritant. Similarly, the itch sensation prompts a scratching response, which helps remove potential allergens from the skin's surface. However, in the case of allergies, these responses can become excessive and cause symptoms like an itchy throat and ears or a persistent cough.

Allergies and Sensory Fiber Pathways

In people with allergies, the immune system reacts to harmless substances, such as pollen or dust mites, as if they were harmful invaders. This causes the release of chemicals like histamine, which can stimulate the sensory nerves and lead to symptoms like an itchy throat and cough. Understanding these pathways can help in the management and treatment of allergy symptoms.

What Role Do Inflammatory Mediators Play in Itchy Throat and Cough?

Inflammatory mediators, like histamines and leukotrienes, play a central role in causing itchy throat and cough. They are released during an allergic reaction, leading to inflammation and irritation in the throat and respiratory tract.

Histamines and Itchy Throat

Histamines bind to receptors in the body's tissues, causing inflammation and swelling. In the throat, this leads to an itching sensation, often accompanied by a scratchy or sore throat. Prolonged exposure to allergens can lead to persistent inflammation, resulting in symptoms like post-nasal drip and a lump in the throat.

Leukotrienes and Cough

Leukotrienes, another type of inflammatory mediator, cause constriction of the airways and increase mucus production. This can lead to symptoms such as a persistent cough or coughing up phlegm. It's not uncommon for allergies to cause a cough in both adults and children.

Inflammatory Mediators and Allergy Symptoms

Inflammatory mediators are crucial in the body's immune response, but in the case of allergies, their effects can lead to uncomfortable symptoms. Understanding the role of these mediators can help in managing and treating symptoms like an itchy throat and cough.

What Are Some Remedies and Treatments for an Itchy Throat Cough?

For itchy throat coughs, various remedies and treatments can provide relief, from over-the-counter (OTC) medications and prescription drugs to home remedies and sublingual immunotherapy.

Remedies and Treatments

OTC medicines like antihistamines, decongestants, and cough suppressants can alleviate symptoms of an itchy throat and cough. Prescription drugs may include corticosteroids or leukotriene inhibitors. Remember, always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new medication regimen.

Home Remedies

During the cold and flu season, home remedies can be particularly helpful in soothing an itchy throat. Common home remedies include drinking warm fluids like herbal teas or honey-infused water, using a humidifier, and gargling with warm salt water. These can soothe the throat, relieve a scratchy throat, and suppress coughing.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) involves placing a tablet under the tongue that contains a small dose of an allergen, helping the body gradually build immunity. SLIT can be an effective long-term solution for those suffering from allergies causing itchy throat and cough symptoms.

How Can One Prevent an Itchy Throat Cough?

Preventing an itchy throat cough involves addressing its root causes such as allergies, infections, or environmental factors. This can be achieved through a combination of lifestyle changes, medical treatments, and preventive measures.

Firstly, it's crucial to identify and avoid allergens that trigger allergic reactions which can result in an itchy throat and cough. Regularly cleaning your living spaces can help reduce exposure to common allergens like dust and pet dander.

For those with allergies, taking preventive medications like antihistamines or corticosteroids as prescribed can help manage symptoms and prevent the onset of an itchy throat cough. Sublingual immunotherapy, as mentioned earlier, can also be effective in the long term.

In terms of environmental factors, maintaining optimal humidity levels and staying hydrated can prevent dryness that can irritate the throat and induce coughing. Avoiding smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke is also essential, as these can irritate the throat and lungs, leading to an itchy throat cough.

Remember, prevention methods will vary based on the individual's health condition and the identified cause of their itchy throat cough. It's always advisable to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

When Should One Consult a Doctor for an Itchy Throat Cough?

OTC treatments fail to alleviate symptoms, or if the condition persists for more than a week. It's also advised to consult a doctor if symptoms worsen, or if you experience high fever, difficulty breathing, or severe throat pain.

If the itchy throat cough is accompanied by other symptoms such as itchy ears, sore throat, or if you're coughing up phlegm, it's another sign that you should consult a healthcare provider. These symptoms could indicate an underlying condition that requires medical treatment.

Also, if your itchy throat and cough are symptoms of an allergy, it's important to seek medical advice. Allergies can lead to complications such as sinusitis or post-nasal drip if not properly managed. A healthcare provider can help identify the allergens triggering your symptoms and provide appropriate treatment, possibly including allergy immunotherapy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What medicine is good for an itchy throat?

Over-the-counter antihistamines like cetirizine, loratadine, or fexofenadine can effectively alleviate an itchy throat. Decongestants and cough suppressants can also provide relief. For severe or persistent symptoms, corticosteroids or prescription-strength medicines may be needed under a healthcare provider's supervision.

What does it mean if my throat is itchy and I keep coughing?

An itchy throat accompanied by persistent coughing can be symptoms of several conditions like allergies, common cold, or respiratory infections. Additionally, it could indicate more serious issues like asthma or acid reflux. If these symptoms persist, it's advisable to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

How do you stop an uncontrollable tickly cough?

To stop an uncontrollable tickly cough, try hydrating with warm liquids like herbal tea or hot water with honey. Over-the-counter medicines like cough suppressants or lozenges can also provide relief. Using a humidifier and avoiding common irritants like smoke or dust can help as well.

Why am I coughing and my throat is itchy?

Coughing and an itchy throat are common symptoms of an allergic reaction. These symptoms might be triggered by allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, mold, or pet dander. Respiratory infections, like colds or the flu, can also cause coughing and throat itchiness.

Is a scratchy throat a symptom of COVID-19?

Yes, a scratchy or sore throat is recognized as a common symptom of COVID-19. Other symptoms include fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing. However, symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and some people may remain asymptomatic.

How do I stop my throat from itching and coughing?

To relieve an itchy throat and cough, try drinking plenty of fluids and using a humidifier to moisten your throat. Over-the-counter lozenges, cough suppressants, and antihistamines can also provide relief. If symptoms persist, consult with a healthcare professional for further diagnosis and treatment.

What cough medicine is good for a scratchy throat?

For a scratchy throat, over-the-counter cough suppressants like dextromethorphan or expectorants like guaifenesin may be beneficial. Additionally, lozenges and sprays containing phenol or benzocaine can help soothe the throat. However, always consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

What medicine should you take for dry cough and itchy throat?

For a dry cough and itchy throat, you can take over-the-counter medicines like cough suppressants and throat lozenges. Cough suppressants help reduce the urge to cough, while lozenges soothe the throat. Antihistamines can also help if allergies are causing your symptoms. Always follow the instructions and consult a doctor if symptoms persist.

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