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March 6, 2006 6:55 PM   Subscribe

Ever get a sudden and annoyingly strong and tenacious throat tickle that forces you into spasms of dry coughing (being that there's nothing to cough up), in a futile attempt to relieve said tickle? Yeah, how the hell do you get rid of that?
posted by kaseijin to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is a nonproductive cough, classic for smokers. Do you smoke? Live in a smoggy area?
posted by Mid at 7:03 PM on March 6, 2006

In my experience, such coughs can be cured by drinking something thick (milk, watered-down honey) and warm.

Also, I've never had this happen when I wasn't feeling sick. Could this cough be a symptom of a Common Cold or other such ailment?
posted by yellowbkpk at 7:04 PM on March 6, 2006

posted by dilettante at 7:09 PM on March 6, 2006

I've been having this lately after a cold. Mainly is a problem trying to get to sleep. I recommend drinking water, maybe taking some Delsym, and trying to make your environment less dry. If I'm really having trouble, I'll get up and get in the shower for a minute or two.
posted by selfnoise at 7:14 PM on March 6, 2006

I had very similar symptoms for most of the last year. My doctor treated it as an extension of my asthma to no avail. Then in mid-January I caught a cold that lingered and she prescribed an antibiotic (Ceftin ?) for a possible opportunistic bacterial infection and it cleared up everything including the tickle and resulting coughs in about 3 days -- I feel much better -- that cold proved to be a bit of luck.

My doctor also tested me for whooping cough (not what I had), because it was passing through our community at the time and the symptoms were somewhat similar to what I had. Apparently most adults lose their immunity from childhood immunizations and are not required to get boosters -- consequently it is fairly common in adults -- but dificult to treat once you have it.
posted by Tolerant at 7:19 PM on March 6, 2006

Do you still have your tonsils?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:20 PM on March 6, 2006

Are you being treated for high blood pressure? ACE inhibitors can have the side effect of causing a chronic dry cough.
posted by neda at 7:31 PM on March 6, 2006

Whatever the cause, I've found the best way to get rid of that tickle is to lean your head back with your mouth directly above your throat (like you're going to swallow a sword), and then cough forcefully. Like scratching an itch.
posted by Meredith at 7:46 PM on March 6, 2006 [2 favorites]

Whatever the cause, I've found the best way to get rid of that tickle is to lean your head back with your mouth directly above your throat (like you're going to swallow a sword), and then cough forcefully. Like scratching an itch.

My God! I've also got one of these throat itches right now, and that suggestion felt so nice.

Good stuff.
posted by iamcrispy at 7:56 PM on March 6, 2006

Mentholytus cough drops. The sugarfree ones are vile. The menthol flavor have the most mentholyptus, and are therefore the most effective, but I prefer the lemon or cherry. Many stores have a generic version.
posted by theora55 at 8:17 PM on March 6, 2006

It's not the tonsils. Mine have been out for years, and I still get these kinds of coughs sometimes.

I think it's the shitty Bay Area air, though.. because it *never* happens when I travel to midwestern states.
posted by drstein at 8:22 PM on March 6, 2006

Sounds like tracheitis (inflammation of the trachea) to me. You'll have to take a syrup to numb your throat enough to prevent the coughing reflex from kicking in until your throat recover from the inflammation.

It will worsen as you cough more, so you have to treat it.
posted by NewBornHippy at 9:46 PM on March 6, 2006

posted by Sallyfur at 10:14 PM on March 6, 2006

Do you mean like randomly all of a sudden you start coughing/choking on some minute piece of dust in your throat? I always try to make a spitwad and swallow it until I can get to a water fountain.
posted by radioamy at 10:16 PM on March 6, 2006

Crikey! I was thinking of using my question on a similar theme. Weird. But thanks!

I get throat itches too. Mostly at night. The problem for me is I get rid of them, almost sunconcsiously, by making this weird kind of grunting noice that sucks air down my throat. I do it in my sleep, even, which annoys my girlfriend no end. I too, am looking for ways to stop the itches so that the grunting will stop as well.

I might try the Mentholytus cough drops. Sounds like the easiest soloution at this point. If that dosen't work, I've now got this thread bookmarked, for future reference.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:48 PM on March 6, 2006

This happens to me all the time, I hate it! I find the only thing that helps is something that sort of coats your throat. Cough drops/candies do the trick, generally. I like those Halls Fruit Breezers, cuz you don't need anything overly medicated for the throat-tickle-problem, so you can get away with using something that actually tastes good.
posted by Kololo at 11:09 PM on March 6, 2006

Well, I don't smoke or have emphysema or anything like that...and I don't have my tonsils...but I am asthmatic, and I do live in a city with absolutely horrid air pollution (Dallas/Ft.Worth/Denton area), so those may have something to do with it.

Do you mean like randomly all of a sudden you start coughing/choking on some minute piece of dust in your throat?

This is almost precisely what I'm talking about -- it can happen so suddenly without any warning or any difficutly breathing at all, and then it has you for hours.

To yellowbkpk, selfnoise and Tolerant: It is also true that this is right on the heels of a really nasty cold that involved a good deal of nasal and upper-respiratory congestion, so you may be on to something there.

I am going to try gargling, drinking watered down honey and meredith's wonderful suggestion and report back in the morning!
posted by kaseijin at 11:58 PM on March 6, 2006

Buttercup Syrup works absolute wonders. And it tastes good too.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:43 AM on March 7, 2006

Chloroseptic throat spray helps, but if you don't have it, try gargling with warm salted water.
posted by sophie at 4:35 AM on March 7, 2006

I used to have this happen all the time...it got so bad that I couldn't sleep because I was waking up to cough all the time. My doctor diagnosed it as some sort of acid reflux thing - basically the acids were causing irritation in my throat. Once I changed my diet (and invested heavily in Tums), it went away.
posted by elquien at 7:46 AM on March 7, 2006

Update! The head-lean trick works quite well for instant gratification (and feels amazing -- like scratching an itch you never have been able to reach), but the tickle tended to return before too long.

Spoonfuls of honey seemed to help for a good while, and apparently left my lips delightfully kissable, too!

I didn't give dryness a consideration, given our relatively humid weather here, but man -- hopping in the shower fixed it right up!

Where can I get the Buttercup Syrup in the US? Can it be imported?
posted by kaseijin at 5:35 PM on March 7, 2006

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