We all go through the sensation of tightness in the throat at least once in our lives. As there are many causes that might lead to this sensation, the important thing is not to panic and search for efficient solutions. If there is an underlying condition, then you might need treatment for that, in order to solve the sensation of tightness in the throat. The cause of this sensation might also be psychological, so you might need to go into counseling in order to solve it. Once the exact root cause has been identified, the proper treatment can be administered.
For a lot of people, the sensation of tightness in the throat causes a lot of discomfort, as it comes and goes. Sometimes, the feeling of tightness causes difficult breathing and swallowing. Identifying the correct cause will reduce some of the pressure and anxiety experienced. It will help feel less tensed, to forget about sweating and other upsetting symptoms. A visit to the doctor can also help you make the difference between the sensation being physiological or psychological. Once you know that anxiety is behind this sensation, you will be able to handle it better. Also, if there is a physiological cause, this can be addressed with the right treatment.
What does it mean when your throat feels tight?
When your throat feels tight, it means that your muscles are constricted. The constriction can have a secondary cause or it can appear on its own. When the muscles are under a lot of tension, the person might experience additional sensations besides the tightness. The constriction might cause difficulties swallowing or breathing, leading to a whole chain of events. The blood pressure can rise, as the person is not sure what is happening. Vagal symptoms can appear, such as tremors, excessive sweating or numbness of the lips.
In many situations, the tightness experience in the throat does not have a physical cause. Instead, it is a symptom of anxiety. For the person experiencing the constriction, it can be difficult to make the difference between a physical and psychological cause. Here is where the doctor comes in; a correct diagnosis will help the patient approach the throat tightness sensation in the right way. Also, it must be said that the constriction in the throat can be a symptom of a severe allergic reaction. Immediate medical treatment should be requested, as severe allergic reaction lead to life threatening symptoms.
There are the most common causes that lead to tightness sensation in the throat:
- This is a vicious circle – as the person feels anxious, he/she experiences tightness in the throat. Because of this sensation, the anxiety levels increase.
- The sensation of tightness in the throat is accompanied by a feeling of panic, excessive sweating, difficulty breathing and rapid pulse.
Thyroid disorders – hypothyroidism
- The thyroid gland is located in the throat area and its slow functioning can lead to a feeling of tightness, besides other modifications.
- The tightness in the throat can be increased if the thyroid presents nodules.
- The person might experience difficulty breathing or swallowing.
Gastrointestinal disorders – gastro-esophageal reflux
- The acid that comes from the stomach might lead to a burning or tightness sensation in the throat.
- If you ingest foods that you are allergic to (nuts, eggs or seafood), then you can develop an allergic reaction.
- The allergic reaction can range from mild to severe, requiring immediate medical treatment to prevent suffocation.
- If you take medication that you are allergic to, then you can suffer from tightness in the throat and other symptoms, as you are having an allergic reaction.
- This is a medical emergency and it requires immediate treatment, before the symptoms become life-threatening.
- If you are allergic to insect bites and you have been bitten by an insect, then there is a very good chance you will develop an allergic reaction accompanied by throat constriction.
- Emergency medical treatment is required as well.
Other allergies – to chemical substances or fumes, pollen, dust mites, cosmetics or detergents. Hay fever can also cause the feeling of tightness in the throat.
Other potential causes:
- Bacterial infections – most common: strep throat
In order for the feeling of tightness in the throat to improve, the treatment should address the underlying condition. These are the most important recommendations made for each cause in particular:
- Psychological counseling
- Breathing therapy
- Relaxation techniques, yoga
- Alternatives to stress
- Healthy lifestyle – physically active, eating fresh fruits and vegetables
- Administration of thyroid hormone (synthetic product)
- Surgery for removal of thyroid nodules.
- Anti-acid medication
- Avoiding spicy, greasy or fatty foods
- Avoiding foods that have the tendency to ferment in the stomach, leading to belching
- Elimination of citric fruits and certain vegetables (tomatoes, onions or garlic) from the diet
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Avoid sleeping after eating
- Eat dinner several hours before sleeping, so as to give the stomach the necessary time to digest the food.
- In case of emergency, all allergies are treated with adrenaline shots
- Mild allergies can benefit from the administration of anti-histamines. These will reduce the inflammation and will improve the feeling of tightness in the throat.
- Local ointments containing hydrocortisone or calamine can help in case of insect bites.
In conclusion, the feeling of tightness in the throat can be eliminated if the root cause is correctly identified. If the constriction is caused by an allergy, then one must not lose time and use the epinephrine shot. Most people know the substances or foods they are allergic to, so they carry the epinephrine pen with them. If you find yourself in the position of helping a person suffering from severe throat constriction, do not hesitate to use the epinephrine shot to save that person’s life.