How can I clear my throat tickle?
December 19, 2005 8:03 PM   Subscribe

I have a tickle at the back of my throat, way up high... just where it triggers my gag reflex. It's like I've half-swallowed a hair and it's been bothering me all day. I've tried the usual methods of getting rid of it - drinking lots of water, coughing and clearing my throat (i.e. trying to "hock" it up) and IT'S STILL THERE. Does anyone have any other home remedies for me to try before I give in to my urge to purge?

Note: This isn't a diagnose-my-cold type question; I really do think it's a bit of hair or something. And now I have to stop talking about it before I really do throw up. Please hope me.
posted by web-goddess to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe it's a scratch and you could soothe it with some hot water with honey, lemon and cloves (anaesthetic), whiskey optional. I think you can buy numbing throat spray too if that seems like too much work.
posted by fshgrl at 8:08 PM on December 19, 2005

Eat some soft sandwich bread.
posted by amber_dale at 8:08 PM on December 19, 2005

Hmm. It managed to survive my lunch - pasta and then some strawberries - but I might give the soft bread a try.
posted by web-goddess at 8:10 PM on December 19, 2005

Have you tried gargling? Gargle with some warm saltwater, just in case it is a cold coming on.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:33 PM on December 19, 2005

18 Tricks to Teach Your Body says to scratch your ear. I haven't tried this trick, but others of the 18 I've tried have worked well.
posted by frykitty at 9:23 PM on December 19, 2005

IANAD, but, it might be acid reflux. The vegas nerve can be irritated because of stomach acid, the vegas nerve controls your esophageal sphincter, the irritation can make it feel like there is a small piece of food or phlegm at the top of your throat. You may even feel like you've coughed and cleared it, but it persists. This also might explain why, after eating solid food, you still feel it. Sometimes, it can also trigger your gag reflex. If this doesn't go away, you should probably go to your doctor so he can check this.
posted by generic230 at 9:29 PM on December 19, 2005

vagus nerve - I think the Vegas nerve can be irritated by losing too much money.
posted by Iamtherealme at 9:41 PM on December 19, 2005

posted by generic230 at 9:49 PM on December 19, 2005

I've seen recommendations for gargling diluted lemon juice or vinegar to soften up wee fishbones that were stuck back there... couldn't hurt to give it a go, perhaps.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:09 PM on December 19, 2005

I had something similar when I was a kid... but pretty often and over a long period of time. Later, as an adult, I discovered that my soft palate was too large and was hanging down, blocking my airway. I can't prove it, of course, but have often thought that the hair-like tickle was the soft palate touching the bottom of the throat.

I'm also familiar with the ear scratching thing. For me, that's a very different sensation; a distinct itch as opposed to the sensation of being touched lightly by something small.
posted by Clay201 at 10:46 PM on December 19, 2005

I had this as a child - turned out I had a small fish bone stuck in my throat after eating fresh caught salmon. If it persists, I'd take a look in there with a flashlight to make sure there is nothing stuck back there.
posted by agregoli at 7:26 AM on December 20, 2005

I know nothing, but I had the same experience a couple of years ago. I was driving myself crazy trying to remove (what I thought was) a hair from the back of my throat. It felt like it was just where I could get it, but I kept failing. Eventually I went to the doctor, and he looked and told me there was nothing there. His thought was that I'd irritated my throat enough trying to remove the thing that once it was gone, it felt exactly the same. I'm not suggesting the same thing is happening to you, but I'd recommend going to the doctor. It seems like it's going to be a pretty short visit regardless of what's happening.
posted by MarkAnd at 7:51 AM on December 20, 2005

It's a day later and the tickle - though not making gag now - is still there. I've tried gargling, warm tea, and sandwich bread with no luck. I know it can't be fish; I haven't had any in over a week. I'm starting to think maybe this *is* a phantom tickle. I'm making generic230's answer as best because I had no idea acid reflux could cause this, and after doing some Googling it does seem like something I should look into. (I've had recurring bouts of heartburn in the last few years, and yesterday my stomach felt increasingly bad all afternoon.) I'll be checking it out with my doctor on my next visit... Thanks everybody!
posted by web-goddess at 4:41 PM on December 20, 2005

Oh, and I tried the ear scratching, but I found it a bit vague. Scratch WHERE? Outside? Inside? I felt like a monkey trying to get at a flea. Amused my husband though... :)
posted by web-goddess at 4:43 PM on December 20, 2005

Pour a mild salt-water solution through your nose, perhaps with a Netti pot, or some home-brew solution. While pouring, tip your head back slightly so that the liquid pours back through your mouth, instead of into the other nostrel. Don't choke.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 5:43 PM on December 22, 2005

By home-brew "solution", I meant maybe a small teapot, sports bottle.. if you don't have a Netti Pot. I wasn't referring to another liquid.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 5:45 PM on December 22, 2005

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