Why Does it Feel like Something Is Stuck in My Throat?

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Something Is Stuck in My Throat
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Have you ever said to someone, “It feels like something is stuck in my throat,” but you don’t know why because there’s nothing there?

You figure you would know if something was caught in the throat, like an object or a piece of food, or if some phlegm was having trouble coming out. And yet, everything seems to be clear.

This sensation typically occurs at the back of the throat, behind the tongue, and feels like the object won’t come away from there no matter how much you try to dislodge it, usually by clearing the throat.

Often the feeling is accompanied by difficulty swallowing, drooling (though this is rare), hoarseness (because of the continuous attempts to clear your throat), loss of appetite, or pain and even pressure in the upper chest (this might be cause for some concern).

The condition is frustrating and sometimes alarming, and usually there is no need to panic.

As with most ailments and peculiar symptoms, if it doesn’t go away on its own after a week then you should seek the advice of a medical professional, especially if you have chest pain and are drooling quite a bit during the day.

Why it Feels like Something Is Stuck in My Throat

If you have suffered a stroke, or have a muscle or nerve condition, it can feel like something is stuck in the throat when swallowing.

Feeling as though you have something stuck in your throat when nothing is there is perplexing; and conversely, sometimes there is a physical object behind this sensation.

Below are the most common conditions for this feeling.

1. Something Is Actually Lodged in Your Throat

Children and the elderly (especially seniors who wear dentures) often get food lodged in their throats. This can make them contemplate the fact that it “feels like something is stuck in my throat after eating.”

Children and the elderly (especially seniors who wear dentures) often get food lodged in their throats.

A preventative measure against this physical issue is to try to chew food more thoroughly and take smaller bites.

Have a drink, and let it fully pass down the throat. If you’re struggling, you may need to cough it up.

2. Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is a condition in which stomach acid travels up the esophagus, which can then create ulcers and scars that constrict the esophagus.

If you feel like something is stuck in your throat and you keep burping, it’s more likely a result of GERD, which can also cause burping and a burning sensation in the chest.

3. Scleroderma

This is the weakening, hardening, and narrowing of esophageal tissue. Scleroderma can make food particles travel back up and get lodged in the throat, or at least create the sensation that something is stuck there.

4. Tonsillitis

This is when the tonsils become inflamed and infected by a viral or bacterial infection.

It can cause difficulty swallowing, making it feel like something is stuck in the throat, but nothing is there; or at least, there are no other objects beyond the inflamed tonsils.

5. Diverticula

This condition causes small sacs to form in the throat or esophagus, which can be unsettling. It typically occurs later in life.

These sacs or pockets may fill with food particles, causing an overwhelming feeling to clear the throat or difficulty swallowing.

The particles may cause bacteria to gather within the sacs, with halitosis, or bad breath, becoming a first sign of the bacteria.

Diverticula can further lead to chest pain, regurgitation, or aspiration pneumonia, an effect of food particles entering the lungs. The sacs can also form in the colon as a result of increased pressure within the digestive organ.

6. Allergies

Seasonal or pet allergies can cause slight inflammation, giving the sensation of having something stuck in the throat. This can be a serious concern if the airways become blocked from the inflamed passages.

Anaphylactic shock requires immediate medical help as it can lead to death.

For mild allergy cases, take some allergy medication or try clearing the passages with a neti pot.

7. Esophageal Growths on the Outside

Tumors and lymph nodes can cause pressure on the esophagus, creating a feeling of something stuck in the throat.

8. Enlarged Thyroid Gland

A swollen thyroid can protrude a bit (or a lot) and this will certainly create the sensation of something being stuck in the throat.

9. Esophageal Tumors

Benign or cancerous tumors within the esophagus can create difficulty swallowing and make it feel as though something is stuck in the throat.

10. Stress and Anxiety

Feelings of anxiousness can make it feel like something is stuck in your throat and chest, and you can’t clear it away.

To help combat this, simply draw in a few fortifying breaths and then release them slowly through the mouth.

Have a glass of water because this can calm anxiety as well. Once the stress dissipates, the sensation should be gone too.

11. Esophagitis

Esophagitis occurs when the esophagus becomes irritated and inflamed by airborne or small food particles.

The feeling of something being stuck in the throat is likely caused by such a particle, an allergic reaction to its presence, or by the GERD condition.

This feeling may be settled by avoiding laying down soon after meals. And, it can possibly be prevented by not smoking, avoiding foods that cause acid reflux, and by maintaining a healthy weight.

12. Esophageal Rings and Webs

A feeling of something stuck in the throat may actually be the result of the abnormal positioning of the tissues within the esophagus. This is known as esophageal rings and webs. These tissue folds are formed in the womb and can occur shortly after birth.

Esophageal rings are found in the lower portion of the esophagus. The tissue develops around the inner esophagus, causing restriction.

On the other hand, esophageal webs are located in the upper portion of the esophagus. These block the esophagus as the tissue forms across the center.

Treatment Options for This Condition

So, what do you do when it feels like something is stuck in your throat? Treatment options will depend on what the exact ailment is.

Your doctor will be the one to determine this after a thorough medical examination. Some of them are listed below.

1. Antibiotics

If there is an infection somewhere, you will be prescribed the appropriate medication to tackle the issue. Use the medication for the full amount of time so that all the bacteria are killed.

2. Lavender Oil

If stress is causing the sensation of something being stuck in your throat, get some lavender oil and inhale the scent directly from the bottle if you have to.

Lavender is known to be an excellent calmative and will bring your anxiety right down.

You can also take a hot bath with 10 drops of lavender oil. The heat will provide an extra soothing element.

3. Removal

If you have something lodged in your throat such as a fish bone, you will need to have it removed by a medical professional.

4. Chew Properly

Try chewing your food slowly and methodically before swallowing it, and see if this helps the problem.

Having the sensation of something stuck in the throat can be unsettling, especially if the airways are affected and cause a difficulty in breathing.

It may be caused by the presence of a small food particle stuck in the throat. In such a case, it may be dislodged simply by clearing the throat or by having a drink to flush it into the stomach.

Underlying health conditions, extreme stress, or an allergic reaction may also cause the feeling that something is stuck in the throat.

These causes may require more than a simple home treatment, and you might need to get medical advice.

Also Read

Article Sources (+)

“Esophageal Diverticula,” UW Medicine; http://www.uwmedicine.org/health-library/Pages/esophageal-diverticula.aspx, last accessed September 27, 2017.
“Diverticula,” WebMD, November 20, 2015; http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/diverticula, last accessed September 27, 2017.
“Esophageal Rings and Webs,” Harvard Health Publishing, October 2012; https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/esophageal-rings-and-webs, last accessed September 27, 2017.