Throat tightness is defined by an uncomfortable tight feeling in the throat. It may cause pain, difficulty in swallowing, and the sensation of having a lump in the throat.
It often occurs preceded by an episode of anxiety, stress, tension, or nervousness. However, sometimes there is not an apparent reason for it.
The tightness can be continuous or intermittent, and its intensity ranges from negligent to severe. The condition is not usually serious, but if it lasts several days, the best option is to consult a doctor to discover the cause of the throat tightness and diagnose the actual problem.
In this article, you can find the different causes and treatment options for a tight throat.
Symptoms Of Throat Tightness
Tightness in the throat is described by the patient as follows:
- Constriction of the throat muscles.
- Feeling of having a band or object coiled around the throat.
- Tenderness, tension, and pressure in the throat.
- The sensation of a lump in the throat or an object that is blocking the passage.
- The need of swallowing saliva very often in an attempt to clear the throat.
These symptoms can occur combined or separately. They are not common to all the people, and their frequency and intensity can vary widely.
Causes Of Throat Tightness
The feeling of throat tightness can arise due to several reasons. It is frequently related to stress and anxiety, but this is not the only factor that can cause it. Sometimes the factors have a combined effect on the throat.
The most common causes of throat tightness are:
Anxiety negatively affects the body in several ways. It can cause lack of sleep, breathlessness, sweating, uneasiness, cold feet, and the increase in the heart rate.
It also causes muscle tension due to the constant stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. The throat muscles also tighten, giving rise to the feeling of lumping the throat.
The underperformance of the thyroid gland results in hypothyroidism. This is located in the neck area, and it leads to the onset of several symptoms like throat dryness, difficulty in swallowing, weight increase, insomnia, extreme sensitivity to cold, and depression.
The nodules on the thyroid gland can also trigger the feeling of throat tightness.
Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) is also known as acid reflux. Under this condition, the acid from the stomach splashes up into the esophagus damaging its walls. This can lead to the sensation of having something stuck in the throat.
d. Food Allergies
Certain foods like fish, egg, dairy products, or soy can cause allergy in some people. They cause reactions in the body due to the release of histamine, which includes throat tightness and a feeling of constriction in the airway that leads to breathing difficulties.
e. Other Health Conditions
Various health conditions cause throat tightness.
The most common are:
- Common cold and flu: They are caused by viral or bacterial infections in the respiratory tracts. They lead to several symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, fever, coughing, and a tight throat. They usually dissipate within one to three weeks.
- Strep throat: The infection of the pharyngitis is caused by streptococcal bacteria. This microorganism invades the tonsils, larynx, and pharynx causing the swelling of the lymph nodes, fever, and throat soreness.
- Hay fever: It is caused by the exposure to an allergen. The reactions take place mostly in the respiratory tract with symptoms such as runny, itchy, and congested nose; irritation in the throat and the roof of the mouth and cough.
f. Other Factors
The tightness of the throat may sometimes be caused due to inflammation or swelling. This occurs due to various factors of the environment or an alteration in it like the release of chemicals, pollution or PH changes.
Home Remedies For Throat Tightness
Throat tightness can be treated naturally with the help of items that are commonly used at home.
Some tips that aid in the relief of tightness of the throat is:
1. Salt Water Gargles
- Gargling with salt dissolved in warm water can soothe the throat by relieving its inflammation and irritation.
- All that you need is a glass of warm water and two tablespoons of table salt for the mixture. Gargle for a few minutes three times a day.
2. Fruits And Vegetables
- Drinking soups made of vegetables and juices made of fresh fruits can boost the recovery from discomfort in the throat.
- These food items are a high source of essential nutrients like minerals, vitamins, and carbohydrates.
3. Honey And Lemon
- To soothe a dry and tight throat, drink a glass of warm water containing juice squeezed from half a lemon and a tablespoon of honey.
- This mixture provides relief to the throat due to its contents in vitamins.
- This calming plant can be extremely beneficial when throat tightness is caused due to stress.
- A few drops of lavender essential oil along with a carrier oil can be added to bathing water to obtain its benefits.
- Lavender drops can also be used on the pillow to get a better sleep devoid of tension.
5. Baking Soda
- This is useful in cases in which throat tightness is caused due to acid reflux. Baking soda is salt that neutralizes the stomach acid and alleviates the symptoms caused by it, including throat tightness.
- Mix half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it for the purpose. Never consume baking soda in excess or if you are following a diet low in sodium.
- Baking soda should not be combined with other medications nor substitute them. It should not be consumed on a regular basis.
6. Aloe Vera Juice
- The soothing effects of Aloe Vera are not limited to the skin. It helps in calming the interior of the body too.
- The regular consumption of one to two spoonfuls of Aloe Vera juice mixed with water can help in relieving the damage caused by the esophagus and throat by acid reflux and heartburns.
- Consult your doctor before drinking Aloe Vera juice in case of pregnancy.
7. Soft Food
Eating something soft (like a portion of white bread) and chewing it till it is well moistened with saliva before swallowing can help in removing the piece of food that might be stuck in the throat. This relieves the throat tightness.
- A spoonful of honey can be swallowed to remove the blockage caused by the piece of food stuck in the throat.
- Its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties will reduce the irritation, and its viscosity and texture can adhere to the food piece and make it travel downwards easily.
Treatment For Throat Tightness
The cure of a tight throat depends on the causative factor. There are different treatments according to each cause as follows:
1. Tightness Due To Anxiety
Anxiety causes various adverse effects on the body and throat tightness can be one of them. In this case, the remedy is the removal of anxiety or its source. However, this might not be easy for the person that suffers from it, and they may require external help.
Some tips to reduce anxiety are:
i. Drinking Water
Maintaining the throat moist is known to reduce dryness and the feeling of tightness in it. The act of drinking water gives the sensation of something moving down the throat and preventing its closing. Moreover, drinking water can help in acquiring a feeling of relief or calmness.
ii. Physical Exercise And Jogging
Performing different kinds of activities and exercises helps the body in keeping fit and releasing muscular and mental stress, thus helping in reducing the feeling of tightness.
iii. Consuming Herbal Teas
The consumption of teas made from herbs that have a calming effect also helps in decreasing the amount of stress and mitigates the symptoms of throat tightness. Some of these herbs are chamomile, passionflower, valerian, etc.
iv. Psychological Counseling
This may become necessary in cases in which professional help is needed to relieve excessive mental stress and depression.
v. Relaxation Techniques And Therapies
These include breathing exercises and yoga, and they can be performed to reduce the feeling of routine stress. They should be learned under professional guidance.
vi. A Healthy Lifestyle
A lifestyle that consists of a balanced diet and sufficient time dedicated to taking rest and sleeping is very important for an overall feeling of wellness.
2. Tightness Due To Thyroid Disorder
The nodules of the thyroid cause difficulty in swallowing and they might have to be removed surgically.
Other symptoms of thyroid disorders include the gain of weight, insomnia, intolerance to cold, and depression.
Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by blood tests, and it should be treated with medication prescribed by a professional doctor.
The treatment may include the administration of synthetic thyroid hormone to compensate the thyroid deficiency in the body.
3. Tightness Due To Gerd
When gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux) is the cause, there is a feeling of tightness in the throat due to the sensation of having an object stuck in it.
GERD can be relieved by many over-the-counter medicines, by decreasing the intake of hot and spicy food, and by using a pillow that raises the head from six to eight inches.
The treatment of acid reflux requires the following steps
i. Avoiding the consumption of food items like garlic, onions, citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy and hot foods.
ii. Avoiding the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and smoking.
iii. Sitting straight such that the stomach is in line with the throat.
iv. Raising the mattress head by six to eight inches.
v. Avoiding sleeping immediately after meals.
vi. Eating smaller portions at a time.
vii. Using anti-acid medications.
viii. Consulting the doctor for alternate or stronger medications in case the condition persists and aggravates.
4. Tightness Due To Food Allergy
Allergies to food items like eggs, fruits, soy, etc. may lead to constriction of the air passages and can cause difficulty in breathing. The treatment of allergies can be done by:
i. Avoiding the intake of the allergy-causing food items.
ii. Antihistamines that are available over the counter.
iii. Epinephrine injections prescribed and provided by the doctor in case of severe allergies.
When To See A Doctor?
Throat tightness is usually a temporary and harmless condition that can be relieved with time and simple remedies. However, when the condition persists for many days and common remedies do not relieve it, it is time to consult a doctor.
In case the throat tightness is caused due to contact with known allergens consult the doctor to prevent the risk of cardiac and respiratory problems. If there is difficulty in breathing, seek medical attention urgently.