A tight throat is a very grumpy condition. You might think it is due to a cold drink or something you ate recently. However, there are more serious reasons for a tight throat other than just eating false.
Perhaps, its causes vary from a simple infection to a chronic allergic reaction. Whatever the cause might be, a tight throat is a medical condition that cannot be left untreated.
Why I am having tightness in my throat?
If you are experiencing situations like trouble swallowing or breathing, these are the warning signs of a tight throat that can worsen if ignored. Tightness in your throat can appear in distinct forms. You might feel
- A swollen throat without pain
- A lump in your throat
- Pressure around your neck
- Soreness in your throat
- Hard to swallow or breathe
All these are signs that can make you feel like the throat is closing up. You will have difficulty in swallowing eatables and improper breathing that can be life-threatening.
What are the causes?
Causes of this uncanny feeling include:
1. Heartburn or GERD:
GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux is a condition in which the band of muscles between your esophagus and stomach does not work properly. There function to allow food and liquid to flow into your stomach upon relaxing.
Improper functioning of these muscles allows frequent acid reflux. Acid irritates the esophagus, and a burning sensation is felt that is known as Heartburn.
A sour taste in the mouth, bad breath, dry cough, pain in the chest, burping up liquid, and a hoarse voice are symptoms of Heartburn.
2. Allergic reaction:
An allergic reaction happens when your immune system reacts and releases chemicals by misidentifying something harmless as a danger. It can be due to any usual intake. The results will be watery eyes and a stuffed nose.
Other than this simple allergic reaction, there is a serious type that is Anaphylaxis. It can be a reaction to the food you ate, medicine is taken, or an insect bite. Chemicals released due to this reaction cause your throat to swell and tighten.
Dizziness, vomit, stomach cramps, diarrhea, swollen face, cough, hoarseness, and whistling sounds upon breathing are symptoms of Anaphylaxis.
If you have signs of this allergic reaction, you should immediately consult your doctor or visit an emergency as it is a medical emergency.
One of the most common reasons for a tight throat are infections like tonsillitis and step throat. Some other infections include:
- Bad breath
- Swollen glands
- Ear pain
- Painful swallowing
Emotional responses can also lead to serious physical symptoms. One of them and most common is anxiety. A panic attack can make you feel that your throat is tightening and heart is racing. These symptoms resemble that of a heart attack.
Shortness, nausea, headache, dizziness, chills, sweating, shaking, numbness, and feelings of doom other symptoms of a panic attack.
5. Enlarged thyroid or Goiter:
A butterfly-shaped gland known as the thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck. It generates hormones that control your body’s metabolism. These glands usually do not pain, but an enlarged thyroid can be messy.
An enlarged thyroid gland can block your throat and cause difficulty in swallowing and breathing. Coughing, changes of voice, and swelling of the throat are symptoms of an enlarged thyroid gland.
What is the treatment?
Treatment of a tight throat depends on its cause. Different causes require different treatments and measures to treat the situation.
GERD or Heartburn:
Heartburn can be treated by several medicines that include:
- Medicine that neutralizes stomach acid like Rolaids, Tums, and Maalox
- Medicine that block acid production in the stomach that include Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec
- Medicine that reduces acid production such as cimetidine, famotidine, and ranitidine
Other than these medications, you can adopt some preventions to reduce acid production in your stomach. It can be done by eating smaller meals, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, losing weight, and keeping your head 6 inches above body level while sleeping.
To treat a bacterial infection, one must use antibiotics. However, a viral infection cannot be treated with such medication. Proper rest, washing hands often staying away from any infected person are useful measures in such situations.
Immunotherapy is a technique to desensitize some allergens and prevent a reaction in the future for some allergies. It is a proper long-term process that continues until your immune system no longer react severely.
An injection of epinephrine is for the treatment of Anaphylaxis. It requires a prescription from a doctor. You can carry an auto-injector in case of an emergency.
It requires very little medication, as it is an emotional outcome. Yoga and some other therapies are prescribed by doctors to get over panic attacks.
This cause of tight throat requires more serious treatment. You might need surgery or radioactive iodine to treat. This treatment can remove a part or all of your thyroid gland. In this case, you will require a thyroid hormone afterward also.
What are the tests that can be done?
Test to be done varies with the cause of tightness in the throat.
- Test for GERD or Heartburn:
Your doctor will identify GERD based on symptoms. A monitor is used to measure the amount of acid that backs up. Some other tests include Endoscopy and Barium swallow or upper GI series that require X-ray.
- Test for Infection:
Doctors will diagnose him by masking the symptoms. Sometimes they might take a swab to test for any infection. It is also known as a throat culture.
- Test for Anxiety:
Test for anxiety includes a physical examination. Some blood tests and tests like electrocardiograms can be taken to check any heart condition. A therapist can help you properly to find the basic cause of anxiety.
- Test for Anaphylaxis:
This cause requires an allergy specialist to tackle the situation. He might do a blood test or skin test to clarify the condition.
- Test for Goiter:
An ultrasound and a thyroid scan are done to diagnose an enlarged thyroid gland. Some blood tests are also done to check thyroid hormone levels. Doctors will feel your neck.
When to visit a doctor?
Out of all the causes, Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. If you undergo symptoms like difficulty in breathing and swallowing, you must visit an emergency.
You must make an appointment with your doctor if you have symptoms like a stiff neck, a swollen throat, chest pain, a high fever, and a sore throat.
Can we get short term relief?
It is better to avoid short cuts when it is your health. The tight throat must be treated properly. However, to soothe yourself until you receive the proper treatment, you must avoid overeating and take antacids.
Ibuprofen or any other pain reliever is helpful in case of any infection. Gargle with a mixture of salt and hot water. Rest your throat to feel better by avoiding conversations.
Other then all these, proper medical prescriptions are always best.
Can a sore throat be a sign of cancer?
Surely, throat cancer begins with a sore throat, but not every time it is cancer. As per on the “American Cancer Society” If a sore throat lasts for more than two weeks, you should visit a doctor.
It should be made clear that sore throat is distinctive from a tight throat as it is not compulsory in the later condition that your throat will pain—however, sore throat pains as well as swells.
Is having a sore throat at night alarming?
Usually, sore throat at night is due to dry air in houses, particularly in winter. This dry air dries your throat or airways, and you wake up with a scratchy throat feeling like a sore throat.
The use of the heating system further dries out the air at night. A sip of water will eradicate this temporary soreness.
All causes of a tight throat are very much treatable. Infections get better within a week. Washing your hands often is very effective in preventions.
Eatables or elements that trigger your immune system should be identified and avoided. Therapy and simple medication will prevent panic attacks. The thyroid gland gets efficient once treated properly.
There is no need to worry if you have warning signs of any type of throat infection. The best option is only to visit your doctor or nearby emergency to get a proper idea of the situation and proceed as prescribed.