What is tightness in the throat?
Tightness in the throat is a feeling of tension in the throat. It can feel like:
- Your throat is swollen
- You have a lump in your throat
- A band is around your neck
- Your throat is tender and sore
- Something is blocking your throat and making it hard to breathe or swallow
Tightness in the throat has many possible causes. It may be constant or intermittent and can range from mild to severe.
How common is tightness in the throat?
Tightness in the throat is extremely common. Many people feel this tension. Some feel it every so often. Some feel it regularly. And for some people, it seems as though it never goes away. It can occur in patients in any gender at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Which signs and symptoms can tightness in the throat usually be associated with?
Tension or tightness in the throat is often accompanied by a feeling that:
- You need to swallow frequently to loosen the tension
- You’ve got a lump in your throat
- There’s something tied around your throat
- There’s something blocking your throat or airway
- There’s a tenderness in your neck
- Your voice is tight or strained
What causes tightness in the throat?
Causes of tightness in the throat can include:
- Anxiety. When anxiety makes your throat feel tight or makes you feel like you have something stuck in your throat, the feeling is called “globus sensation.”
- Stress. There’s a ring of muscle in your throat that opens and closes when you eat. When you are feeling stressed, this ring of muscle can become tense. This tension can feel like something is stuck in your throat or that your throat is tight.
- Panic attack. A panic attack is related to stress and anxiety. The sensation that your throat is tightening — even to the point of making it difficult to breathe — is one of the classic signs of a panic attack.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which acid from the stomach moves up into the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in the chest known as heartburn or reflux. Along with the burning sensation in the chest, heartburn can also cause tightness in the throat.
- Goiter. A goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland — which is in the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. Throat tension and tightness is one of the symptoms of a goiter. Other symptoms can include difficulty breathing or swallowing as well as swelling in the front of the throat and neck.
- Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD). Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) is a voice disorder that can make you feel throat tension. It happens when the muscles around the voice box (larynx) over-tighten during speaking to the point that the voice box does not work efficiently.
- Allergies. An allergic reaction to food or another substance can make you feel tension or a tightening of your throat. When the immune system releases chemicals to combat an allergen, a tight throat is one possible symptom. Others can include a stuffy nose and itching, watering eyes.
- Postnasal drip. Head colds, sinus drainage, and nasal allergies can all cause dripping of mucus down the back of the throat. This can lead to irritation that can feel like a lump in the back of your throat.
- Infections. Both tonsillitis (an inflammation of the tonsils) and strep throat (a bacterial infection of the throat) can cause the sensation of throat tension. Other symptoms of a throat infection can includefever, difficulty swallowing, earache, headache, laryngitis (loss of your voice).
The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of tightness in the throat. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
What increases my risk for tightness in the throat?
If you have any of the conditions mentioned above, you are more likely to experience tightness in the throat.
Please consult with your doctor for further information.
When to see your doctor
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you or your loved one has any of the following:
- Chest pains
- High fever
- Stiff neck
- Swollen lymph nodes along the neck
If throat tension lasts for more than a few days, see your doctor for a full diagnosis.
If you have known allergies and feel a tightness and tension in your throat, take appropriate measures for a possible severe reaction (anaphylaxis) before symptoms become that serious. If you do have an anaphylactic reaction, even if your symptoms seem to have improved, a trip to the emergency room (ER) is still required.
On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage tightness in the throat?
These following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with tightness in the throat:
- Allergies: Those with food allergies should avoid their triggers. Antihistamines may help to relieve allergy symptoms when they do occur.
- Anxiety: People with anxiety can try deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation exercises to stay calm. A healthful diet, exercising, and limiting caffeine and alcohol can also reduce anxiety.
- GERD: Heartburn-induced throat tightness can be alleviated through dietary changes. It is essential to eat slowly and avoid overeating. Also, it helps to wait at least 3 hours before lying down after meals, and to maintain a healthy weight. Antacids can assist when used once in awhile.
- Inflammation or pain: Ibuprofen available online (Advil, Motrin), or another similar pain reliever may help people with throat inflammation or pain related to an infectious or noninfectious cause. Gargling with warm water and salt several times a day can also reduce pain and swelling in the throat.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
What Causes Tightness in Throat and How Can You Manage This Symptom? https://www.healthline.com/health/tightness-in-throat#causes. Accessed December 21, 2018.
Throat Tension. https://www.healthline.com/health/throat-tension. Accessed December 21, 2018.
What to do about tightness in the throat. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320931.php. Accessed December 21, 2018.
Review Date: December 21, 2018 | Last Modified: December 21, 2018