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Tickle In Chest: Causes And Treatments

How To Get Relief For A Tickle In Your Chest

Dr. Edward Lewis - Genexa Healthcare Provider & Partner Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Edward Lewis - Genexa Healthcare Provider & Partner on September 16, 2021

Medically reviewed by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology

If you are experiencing a tickling sensation in your chest and throat, you may also be experiencing a persistent dry cough. Dry coughs that are triggered by a tickle in the back of the throat can be bothersome, and they may interfere with your quality of life if you have a hard time relieving your symptoms.

Irritation and tickling sensations can be caused by a variety of factors, and understanding some of the most common reasons why you may be feeling a tickle in your chest can help you identify the cause of your discomfort.

In most cases, a tickle in the chest or throat is nothing too serious, and you may be able to manage your symptoms right at home. However, it is always best to speak with a doctor whenever you have unusual symptoms and you are not sure what is causing them. Your doctor will work with you to figure out what may be causing your symptoms, and then you will be able to start the appropriate method of treatment.

A tickle in the chest and a dry cough can be caused by environmental factors such as dry air, pollutants, or allergens, but these symptoms can also occur as the result of some illnesses and infections, such as upper respiratory infections.

Treating your symptoms will very much depend on what is causing them in the first place. The proper method of treatment for allergies will be different from the proper form of treatment for an infection or illness, and if you are not sure how you should go about finding relief, your doctor can help you out and will be able to recommend certain products.

When you are using over-the-counter products to treat your symptoms, you should take care to read the drug facts label in order to be sure that you are using your medicine correctly. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.

Cough Caused By a Tickle in the Chest or Throat: Causes

When you have a tickle in your chest or throat, you are probably coughing, too, because this tickling sensation can trigger the cough reflex. If the tickle in your chest is persistent and has lasted for more than four weeks, you may be experiencing a chronic symptom.

The lining of your throat can very easily become irritated and inflamed, and irritation of the throat is the main cause of a tickling sensation in the back of your throat. Additionally, if you inhale irritants that travel down your throat and into your lungs, you may experience a tickle both in your throat and in your chest.

In response, your body begins to cough as a means of expelling the irritants out of your system. However, if the irritation is prolonged, the tickling sensation and coughing will be, too.

Certain people are more likely to experience chronic coughing and airway irritation than others. For example, people who smoke tobacco are at a higher risk of developing chronic cough and airway irritation because of the pollutants found in tobacco smoke.

Other groups of people who may be at an increased risk of airway irritation or chronic coughing include those with the following conditions or risk factors:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Prolonged exposure to dust and chemicals, such as through occupation or otherwise
  • Obesity

Some common causes of a tickle in the chest accompanied by chronic coughing include:

  • Asthma: Asthma is considered to be one of the top causes of chronic cough, and someone with asthma may also experience wheezing and shortness of breath.
  • Bronchiectasis: This is a condition that causes coughing due to a buildup of mucus in the lungs.
  • Bronchitis: Bronchitis causes swelling in the bronchial tubes, and this can lead to coughing and airway irritation.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: COPD is a term used to refer to a group of respiratory tissues, and it includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
  • Upper respiratory infections: Infections such as the common cold, the flu, and pneumonia can cause coughing and a tickling sensation in the airways.
  • Sinusitis or allergies: Sinusitis and allergies are other potential causes of a tickling sensation and chronic cough, mainly because of their potential to cause postnasal drip.

Understanding Postnasal Drip

Many of the above potential causes of a tickling sensation can be linked to the development of postnasal drip, and postnasal drip itself is a main cause of tickling in the throat and chest. Normally, the mucus produced by your body gets swallowed unconsciously.

However, when there is too much mucus in the body or when mucus begins to gather in the back of the throat or drip down the throat through the back of the nose, this is referred to as postnasal drip.

Symptoms of postnasal drip can include:

  • Feelings of mucus draining down your throat
  • Frequent swallowing
  • Frequent throat-clearing
  • Raspy or gurgling speech
  • A sore and irritated throat
  • Feeling like there is a lump in your throat
  • A tickle in the back of your throat

Postnasal drip can be caused by a variety of things, including allergies, infections, rhinitis, certain medications, age, and acid reflux.

If you are experiencing several symptoms of postnasal drip, or if you suspect that postnasal drip may be to blame for your symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about getting a diagnosis and finding relief.

Finding Relief From a Chronic Cough and Tickle in the Chest

When a chronic cough and tickle in your chest is interfering with your ability to go about your daily life and complete tasks and activities, you need relief, fast.

The following home remedies may be effective at relieving your symptoms right at home:

Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep your mucus membranes moist.Water may also work to help thin and loosen any mucus in your airways, making it easier for you to cough up and get rid of. Warm water with lemon and honey may also help soothe an irritated throat with a tickling feeling.

Use extra pillows to elevate your head at night when you go to sleep. This may help prevent mucus from gathering in the back of your throat.

Try out cough drops if you have an irritated throat, but avoid falling asleep with a cough drop in your mouth.

Avoid smoking, or quit smoking altogether. You should speak to your doctor if you have a hard time stopping this habit.

Avoid exposure to irritants and allergens as much as possible. This can include car exhaust, pollen, dust, molds, and smoke. If you cannot avoid these irritants, wear a face covering when you are around them.

Aside from these tips, you can also try out some over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to bring you relief, but make sure you speak with your doctor before attempting to self-treat using over-the-counter products. Your doctor can diagnose your symptoms and inform you about the proper method of treatment so that you can make sure you are taking proper care of your body.

Your doctor will also be able to provide you with important information about over-the-counter products, such as dosing, proper usage, or side effects you should be aware of.

For example, some products are not recommended for use by patients taking certain medications or patients who have certain health conditions, and some activities may need to be avoided while using the medicine. Drinking alcohol, for example, is not recommended while you are taking antihistamines or other medications, and your doctor can advise you about other foods, medicines, or activities you should avoid.

If your symptoms do not improve with treatment, you should consult your doctor for next steps.

The Bottom Line

A tickle in your chest or throat can be a very uncomfortable symptom that may cause you to experience a chronic cough, and there are many potential causes of this sensation.

Allergies, upper respiratory tract infections, irritants, and postnasal drip are all common causes of a tickle in the chest or throat. Postnasal drip is especially common and can happen as the result of a variety of ailments.

The telltale sign of postnasal drip is a feeling of mucus draining down the back of the throat, and if you believe you may have post nasal drip, your doctor can help you figure out why this might be happening. Treatment for a tickle in the chest can vary depending on the cause, so you should talk to your doctor if you do not know what is causing your symptoms.


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