CHICAGO, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- For many, constant throat clearing becomes habitual and, left untreated, persistent throat clearing can harm the throat and vocal cords, a U.S. expert says.
Dr. Brian Rotskoff at Clarity Allergy Center in Chicago, who treats a wide variety of throat issues, said chronic throat clearers and coughers are among the patients who achieve the greatest relief in his care.
"Often it's the spouse of a throat clearer that pushes them in my door," Rotskoff said in a statement. "It's like chronic snoring -- because it's pain-free, those around you are the most bothered."
However, there's a lot more to frequent throat clearing than annoying noise. Some patients report that their throat clearing started with a cold or upper respiratory infection, while others are unclear of the onset and simply cite a constant tickle.
"Throat clearing is a symptom, not a condition," Rotskoff said.
Like a chronic cough and even nasal congestion, throat clearing is the result of something affecting the throat or airways. When throat clearing persists for several months or more, the condition becomes cyclical.
"Your throat and vocal cords take repeated abuse with constant clearing," Rotskoff said. "The resulting inflammation only reinforces the urge to clear and the cycle continues. Even if you don't feel discomfort there can be lasting damage to your throat and voice."