Is constant throat clearing a symptom of something more serious?

Gary wayne cobler asked...

For years I have had a constant feeling that I have to clear my throat with a cough. It reaches the point where I can't breathe good at times. Doctors said it was allergies but I was on allergy shots and medicines for about three years and nothing improved. What else could be wrong?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Constant clearing of the throat is usually a sign of post-nasal drip from allergies.  What happens is that your sinuses get clogged, then the drainage drips down the back of your throat, causing you to feel like you have to constantly clear your throat.  If allergy treatments did not help, you should make sure that you do not have something else, like acid reflux or asthma, that could give you a tickle in your throat as well.  If you have not seen an ENT specialist (ear, nose, throat), I would suggest that you do.  They may have more suggestions on how to help your throat.

My last thought is that some medications can cause cough.  The biggest culprit is usually ACE inhibitors (like lisinopril, prinivil).  Have your health care provider check that you are not taking one of these medications, as this can also cause your problem.