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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

throat problems related to alcohol abuse

03/12/2008

Question:

How can excessive drinking over a period of time cause problems in the throat?

Answer:

There are 2 ways that excessive drinking (I'll assume you are talking about alcohol) can affect your throat.

The first is by increasing the likelihood of acid reflux. Acid that chronically irritates the throat will cause frequent throat clearing, occasional hoarseness, mucus accumulation in the throat, cough, bad breath, a lump in the throat sensation and occasionally a sour or acid taste in the throat.

The second way excessive drinking can affect your throat is by causing cancer in the throat. Alcohol is a risk factor for throat cancer along with tobacco usage. Throat cancer may not cause any symptoms until it is advanced. When it does cause problems usually one can expect difficulty swallowing, painful swallowing, possibly hoarseness, ear pain and a lump in the neck. I hope this gives you some useful information.

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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