Why do I have to clear my throat so much?
November 20, 2009 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Why do I have to clear my throat all of the time? When I'm speaking, my voice often becomes croaky to the point where I can't speak normally without sounding like Tom Waits on his deathbed. This is normally resolved by me clearing my throat rather audibly (ahem-uh-huh-hem!), after which I can speak fine again. I might have to do this five or six times in an hour long presentation. I'm not spitting out or swallowing phlegm, my voice is just unusably scratchy until I clear my throat. Occassionally, clearing my throat does nothing, and I'm left with a voice that can barely speak. This happens with my normal conversations, too, not just presentations.

My occupation sometimes requires extensive public speaking (hence the anonymous), but I still have the problem of having to clear my throat even when I don't have a lot of speaking to do.

Gargling with salt water seems to improve my ability to speak, as does drinking tea and sucking on lozenges. If I sleep well, there is a slight improvement, sometimes.

Is the throat-clearing serving the function of removing phlegm? Should I see a ENT? Have you had similar problems? How did you manage the problem?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Needing to clear the throat constantly can sometimes be caused by acid reflux, even without any sensation of heartburn.
posted by Ery at 8:54 AM on November 20, 2009

Yeah, ask a doctor. They could easily have an answer for you. Could be post-nasal drip or who knows what else. I know with that particular condition you don't have to feel like there is phlegm running down your throat, but there is.
posted by GleepGlop at 8:55 AM on November 20, 2009

Constant throat clearing is also a symptom of Vocal Cord Dysfunction. Seconding talking to a doctor about it.
posted by Kimberly at 9:23 AM on November 20, 2009

Do you have any environmentally-based allergies (pollen, ragweed, etc.)? That can cause lots of postnasal drip/interesting mucus factors.

Also consider that forced-air circulation systems tend to dry the nasal passages/throat, and if you're indoors in an office building, with allergies, that could yield some truly delightful thick mucus in your throat that could need clearing.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:47 AM on November 20, 2009

If you do a lot of public speaking it's possible you've developed vocal cord nodules. You'd be in good company as they seem to be endemic in singers and public speakers.

So basically thirding "go and see your doctor".
posted by Coobeastie at 9:48 AM on November 20, 2009

Yes, laryngopharyngeal reflux (acid reflux in your larynx) can cause horseness and constant clearing of your throat. Get it checked out with an ENT.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 11:24 AM on November 20, 2009

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