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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Hair feeling in back of Throat

04/12/2002

Question:

For about a week and a half now, I have had a feeling like a hair in the back of my throat which is quite annoying. I don`t see anything in my throat and it is not sore or anything it just feels like there is something on the back part of my toungue rubbing against my throat. Does this make sense? Do you know what this could be?

Thanks

Answer:

It is truly hard to give you a simple explanation for this unusual sensation in your throat. You certainly could have a hair or a foreign body in your throat. It would be unusual for it to stay in one place for about 2 weeks. Honestly there are really only a few diagnoses to entertain. First would be a diagnosis of acid reflux. This is a condition where stomach acid refluxes up into your throat causing irritation to the throat tissues. This tends to cause a sensation of a lump in the throat often associated with frequent throat clearing, mucus accumulation in the throat (some people believe this to be sinus drainage into the throat), occasional or chronic cough and occasional hoarseness. This condition can be made worse by smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, drinking lots of caffeine beverages (Coke, Pepsi, Mellow Yellow, Mountain Dew, coffee, tea, etc), eating acidic fruits and vegetables (like tomatoes, oranges, etc) or eating spicy foods. The treatment is avoidance of the offending foods and medication directed at reducing or blocking the secretion of stomach acid. Another potential diagnosis is a tumor on the back of your tongue or in your throat. Tumors generally do not cause significant pain until they get to be a certain size or grow into sensitive structures nearby. A thorough examination by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist should put this issue to rest. Of course, tumors can be benign or malignant. A biopsy is often needed to make this determination. Lastly, some people can get enlargement of the taste buds on the back of the tongue or the tonsil tissue that sits on the back of your tongue. These conditions do not necessarily cause pain. Again, an examination by an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor could determine if these conditions are the cause. I recommend that you start with you family physician and ask him or her to refer you to an ENT specialist. 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