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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Dry Scratchy Throat



I have a dry scratchy throat with difficulty swallowing especially as the day progresses. In the morning I can swallow just fine but by evening the throat seems to swell (plus a scratchy feeling) making swallowing more difficult. Talking also can create some hoarseness. I use cough drops to soothe the throat and cough spray at night. I`ve had this problem for six months or more. Some days are better than others. What do you think?


My first question to you is, have you seen your doctor? I would think that if this has been a problem for six months, you would have sought some help by now. This is a vague kind of complaint that could have many causes. Without the benefit of examining you, I will tell you of some of the more common causes. Please do not take this information as a diagnosis. You will need to see a physician for a definitive answer to you question. Given the length of your complaint and the fact that your problem seems to get worse as the day progresses, I believe that acid reflux ( a condition where stomach acid works its way into the throat) could be a contributor if not the actual cause. Acid reflux is made worse by eating certain foods, laying down within 3 hours of a meal, alcoholic beverages, being overweight, wearing tight fitting clothing, taking certain medications, drinking lots of coffee or other caffeinated beverages, etc. This condition is often managed with medication to decrease or neutralize stomach acid. Making some lifestyle and dietary modifications can be extremely beneficial. Raising the head of the bed about 6 inches can be helpful. Eliminating certain foods that seem to upset your stomach or cause more throat problems is good. Thyroid problems can certainly cause difficulty swallowing and hoarseness. This is usually due to a compressive effect on the swallowing passage and the voice box or the nerves that move the vocal cords. Blood work and ultrasound studies are helpful in diagnosing thyroid problems. A tumor in the throat (benign or malignant)could cause these symptoms. In many instances, tumors in the throat do not even cause pain. If you are a smoker and or drinker(alcohol) you should have your throat examined by an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. This kind of doctor is the only doctor capable of examining and evaluating the voice box and lower throat areas. I hope this provided you with some useful information. Remember, these are diagnoses of your problem. Only after an examination and thorough history ( and possibly some x rays) can an accurate diagnosis be given. Good luck.

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Response by:

Keith M Wilson, MD Keith M Wilson, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Head and Neck Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati