How can you tell if an itchy throat is from allergies or cold-related?
An irritated throat can be itchy, swollen, scratchy or just uncomfortable. And if you’ve ever caught a cold, then chances are you’ve probably battled an itchy throat. But what are some of the tell-tale signs to help differentiate between a cold and an allergy related itchy, sore throat?
Typically, if it’s caused by the common cold or the flu, an irritated throat would be paired with symptoms such as:1
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Loss of appetite
- Body chills
But, if your itchy throat is paired with itchy, watery eyes or itchy skin that is breaking out in hives, then it may be due to allergies. 2,3
Causes of Itchy Throat
An itchy throat is a symptom that can be associated with many health concerns. Are you down with the flu? Do you have a cough? Or perhaps you ate or inhaled something that aggravated your throat?
In all cases, finding the cause of your throat’s discomfort is important if you want to treat it effectively and prevent your symptoms from worsening.
For example, if you suffer from allergies, an itchy throat accompanied with a shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, and chest pain, can be an indication of anaphylaxis—a serious allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention.4 If you have these symptoms or are suffering from an anaphylactic reaction, seek help immediately.
Other conditions such as rhinitis (caused by the common cold or allergies) can also produce symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and itching of the eyes and throat. In the case of allergic rhinitis, particles in the air trigger your body’s release of histamine, a chemical responsible for many of your allergy symptoms.5
Some of the common allergens that affect the upper respiratory system and your throat, include: 6
- Tree, grass and weed pollen
- Mold spores
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
On the other hand, if your itchy throat is caused by a cold and cough, you should keep track of how long you feel unwell for. For the most part, colds tend to last a week, while allergies last for as long as your body is exposed to the allergens. 6
Although the cause of an itchy throat symptom can be hard to diagnose by itself, you can usually get a better understanding of your health condition when you also consider other symptoms that appear. If you are still unsure of the cause of your itchy throat, it is best to consult with your doctor, closely monitor your health, and review your medical history.
How to Alleviate and Prevent Itchy Throat
The best way to prevent your allergies from acting up is to avoid your allergy triggers. In some cases, this may mean staying indoors more often, not cuddling with your friend’s pet, or dusting the house more often than you’d like. Although there is no sure way to cure or avoid allergies, there are steps you can take to help manage your symptoms.
Reduce Allergen Exposure
You can reduce the number of allergens in your environment by cleaning more often or by using allergen-friendly filters and air purifying systems. If the great outdoors is responsible for your allergies, consider staying home when the pollen count is high, or avoid areas densely packed with gardens, trees, or grass.
OTC antihistamine medications like Reactine can help to effectively alleviate your allergy symptoms. Antihistamines work by blocking your body’s histamine receptors, and reduces or stops your body’s overreaction to allergens.7 If you’re looking for a fast-acting and long-lasting relief to your allergy symptoms, try REACTINE® Rapid Dissolve to help relieve symptoms such as itchy and water eyes, itchy nose and throat, sneezing, runny nose, congestion and hives; these oral dissolving tablets dissolve in seconds without water, making them convenient to take on-the-go. Or try REACTINE® Extra-Strength to help relieve all your toughest indoor and outdoor allergy symptoms, all day and all night.
Home Remedies for a Scratchy Throat
Home remedies are also great if you’re looking for a quick way to relieve your itchy throat symptom temporarily. These include: 8
- Drinking plenty of warm water or non-caffeinated/non-alcoholic drinks: dehydration can make your throat feel scratchier and more uncomfortable
- Gargling with warm, salt water can help ease the discomfort in your throat and reduce pain and swelling
- Dissolving a spoonful of honey in your mouth: honey is a great anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent that can also help soothe and lubricate scratchy throats. Please note that honey is not recommended for those younger than 1 year of age9.
Apart from antihistamines, other OTC medications like lozenges or throat sprays can be purchased from your local store. These medications can also help soothe your throat.
Reactine offers long-lasting and effective relief of your toughest allergy symptoms. If allergies are dragging you down, fight back! Take Reactine and get back to enjoying all your favourite activities!
Always seek guidance from your doctor or healthcare practitioner before taking any OTC medications. Be sure to also follow instructions and never take more doses, or for longer than directed on the medication label.