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Feeling Tightness in Your Throat? 5 Alarming Symptoms and How You Can Manage Them

Have you ever wondered about that tightness in your throat?

If you start feeling like your throat is tight and it persists, there may be a lot of reasons for it. While a lot of us have the bad habit of thinking of the worst possible outcome, it does not always mean that we have a lot of health problems.

It can be that this type of problem just signals an underlying health issue; you have contracted a virus, or it is just a case of a viral infection.

While it can be really scary when you feel your throat constrict, tightness in the throat can be treated if it’s mild, but it can also be the case that it is just one of the symptoms and your body is having an allergic reaction.

What you should not do in this instance is panic, as you cannot predict how your system will react, and you could make things worse.

Reading about the issue in an easy-to-digest way is the first way in which you can identify what causes your throat’s tightness, and this is why we have gathered all the most common symptoms that cause it and the ways in which they can be treated here!

Just keep in mind that if there’s ever any difficulty breathing or swallowing, you should visit the ER as soon as possible, as it could be an allergic reaction!

Let us know if you’ve ever experienced throat tightness before!

Photo by Art_Photo at Shutterstock

What could this tightness be?

First of all, before we dive deep into the reasons why you are experiencing this sort of health issue, we need to make sure that we can identify the moments in which our throat is tightening and when it is not.

This can not only help you better describe what you are feeling to a professional, but before you panic and start thinking about the worst-case scenario, it could help you identify the issue beforehand.

After all, it could be that something is actually blocking your throat pipe, which in turn makes it hard for you to swallow or breathe.

This is mostly caused by the irritation of your throat in response to the blockage and not by any other underlying health issue, and you should visit a doctor to get it removed.

Otherwise, if you are sure that there is nothing in your throat, tightness in the area has been described by other patients as:

  • feeling the walls of the throat to be swollen;
  • experiencing the sensation of having a lump in your throat;
  • feeling like you have a band around your neck;
  • your throat feels sore and tender when you swallow.

If any of these sound like something you are experiencing, read along to see which one of our reasons is the one that applies to you!

Reason 1: Allergic reaction

One of the first reasons you may be dealing with throat tightness is because something you ate or were exposed to may have triggered an allergic reaction.

This generally happens when your body reacts to something generally harmless (like pollen or peanuts) and it thinks it is a dangerous invader for the system. This reactive reaction is what causes you to get watery eyes and a runny nose.

In some more severe cases, it happens that your body reacts in a more extreme way, which is called anaphylaxis. This can be caused either by medicine you have taken that your system is not compatible with, foods you may be allergic to, or an insect sting or bite.

The reaction can happen immediately (in the case of more severe allergic reactions), while others may take up to a few hours after you have been exposed to the substance.

Your body, in response to the foreign invader, will release chemicals that will cause your throat and airways to inflame, which is why you feel your throat tightening and swelling up.

This reaction could be mild, and it could stop at this, or it could manifest further with some of the following symptoms:

-difficulty breathing, including wheezing or whistling-like sounds;

-pain in your chest;

-uncontrolled cough;

-swelling of the face, mouth, lips, or tongue;

-itchiness of the throat, mouth, or of the skin, along with potential hives or rashes;

-dizziness and potential fainting;

-increased heartbeat;

-stomach cramps, along with nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.

These are considered more severe reactions. What’s more, anaphylaxis is considered a medical emergency as it can lead to loss of life. If you spot these severe reactions, please contact the local emergency services or rush the person to the ER for treatment.

Reason 2: Anxiety

Another reason not many people take into consideration is that anxiety is a big factor in why you feel your throat tighten. Since anxiety is an emotional response, some are quick to brush it aside, but it can lead to real and serious physical symptoms.

Anxiety can lead you to a panic attack, where you will feel your heart pounding and your throat closing up. The reason you feel the tightness in your throat could be that you are experiencing the start of a panic attack, and you are not yet familiar with the symptoms.

Others, besides your throat constricting, can include: headache, shaking, difficulty breathing, sweating profusely, nausea, chills, feeling dizzy, anxiety or impending doom, and even numbness or tingling.

Since some of these resemble heart attacks, a lot of patients are adding more panic to the mix and sending their systems into shock.

If you feel like you are experiencing a panic attack due to anxiety, try to remove yourself from the situation or calm down. In more severe cases, medical attention is needed.

Photo by Shidlovski at Shutterstock

Reason 3: Enlarged thyroid (goiter)

If you feel like your throat is tight, and this is the reason why you have difficulty breathing or swallowing, it may be high time for you to visit your doctor and get your thyroid checked.

The thyroid gland in our necks is responsible for controlling and producing hormones that aid in the control of the body’s metabolism.

When it starts to grow in size suddenly, or there are other issues with it, the swelling and tightness in your throat may be the first signs that something is wrong.

Alongside those, the first symptoms of an enlarged thyroid also include coughing and sudden changes in your voice. If you suspect such issues, you should book an appointment with your doctor, as it can lead to other medical issues over time.

Reason 4: Heartburn or GERD

Despite many not paying attention to it too much, heartburn, which is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a condition that many Americans have to deal with.

And while some just write it off as something that can happen when you eat too much of something hearty, it is a condition that can affect you in more ways than one.

GERD is actually caused by the fact that the muscles between the stomach and your esophagus don’t tighten and close properly, which leads to the acid from your stomach going back up the food pipe.

The acid will then irritate the esophagus, which is what causes the burning sensation that we all know as heartburn.

However, that burning sensation is not the only symptom of GERD. If you suffer from it, you will feel like you have something in your throat or that your throat is tight, along with experiencing issues when swallowing.

Other signs that you may have GERD include bad breath and a sour taste, a hoarse voice and dry coughing, the possibility of burping liquid, and chest pains similar to those of a heart attack.

Reason 5: Infection

Another really common reason why your throat is tight is the fact that you have an infection in your throat. The most common ones, like strep throat or tonsillitis, can definitely cause such a feeling, along with soreness.

Other symptoms to look out for are: swollen or red tonsils and swollen glands; chills and fever; bad breath; pain when swallowing; pain in your ear; headaches; laryngitis (losing your voice); or vomiting and nausea (which is more common in children).

If you are experiencing any combination of these, you should go see your general practitioner as soon as possible to get the relief you need.

Can you get short-term relief?

For immediate action, if you suspect any of these reasons are the reason why your throat is feeling tight, there are some options. However, if you wish to treat the cause and not just the effect, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible after using these.

In the case of anaphylaxis, if it’s not anything major, medication like antihistamines will work just fine, but you should definitely see an allergy specialist to determine what caused your reaction.

In the case of more severe allergy attacks, medical attention is needed immediately, along with a shot of epinephrine.

If you have heartburn, you can try to pinpoint the foods that trigger the acid reflux and avoid them, along with making sure you don’t overeat and take your medicine if you have been diagnosed.

You can take over-the-counter antacids, but for more acid-blocking drugs, you may need a prescription.

If you’re dealing with an infection, you will need pain relievers to ease the symptoms and discomfort, unless it is a bacterial infection, in which case you will need to be prescribed antibiotics.

For more at-home remedies, you can try to gargle some warm water with a mixture of baking soda and salt or suck on lozenges (as long as you don’t take too many). It also helps to make sure you rest your voice as much as you can.

Photo by didesign021 at Shutterstock

Can it be treated?

The good news is that all of these reasons are treatable, and in the case of the ones that cause tightness in your throat as a symptom of a long-term condition, there are medications that you can take that will keep them under control (like with the enlarged thyroid).

If we’re talking about heartburn and GERD, the over-the-counter antacids and other medication your doctor might prescribe you to block the stomach acids will cause an improvement immediately.

Yet you can also consider some life changes that will also help your symptoms and triggers, like being more mindful of your diet and avoiding the foods you know will cause you issues.

Moreover, in the case of allergies, once you know what you are allergic to, you can avoid the specific food or thing, along with carrying with you the tools to help you in case of a severe allergic reaction.

If we’re looking at infections, with the proper treatment and patience, they will go away in about a week or a little bit more.

What’s more, in the case of anxiety, with medication and therapy when needed, you should see a decrease in panic attacks, if not their full disappearance, and you will not have to deal with the throat tightness anymore.

For a healthier diet we recommend checking out this Anti-Inflammatory Cookbook from Amazon.

If you’re looking to treat your anxiety through diet, then you should make sure you introduce these foods in your meal rotation while also steering clear of some others!

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