Mr John Marshall - Consultant Otolaryngologist

Feeling of something in the Throat

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The feeling of something in the throat is a common symptom. One of the functions of our throat is to allow food and fluid to go safely to our stomach. At the same time we have also to breathe and avoid food and fluid going down ‘the wrong way’ – into our windpipe (trachea).

The throat has clever mechanisms to allow this, and these include abundant ‘sensation’ nerves to detect the presence of food or drink. These sensation nerves can sometimes give a feeling of something being there in error. If this happens we often clear our throat, cough or swallow more frequently which can irritate the throat and make this symptom worse.

Often there can be a trigger to start this symptom – an upper respiratory infection, some acid reflux from the stomach, or a sinus infection causing excess mucus to drain back from the nose. If symptoms like this persist, it is important to have an evaluation by and ENT specialist who will examine the area with a flexible endoscope. This is a simple examination performed in the clinic. A fine endoscope is passed through the nose after a little local anaesthetic nose spray.

So called “Red Flags” (warning signs that increase the chance there may be a more serious underlying cause such as cancer) include: worsening symptoms, symptoms occurring in smokers, difficulty in swallowing, hoarseness of the voice, increasing or significant pain, unexplained weight loss or the presence of swollen glands in the neck. If any of these are present, an urgent Ear Nose and Throat specialist assessment is required.

It’s important to stress that a feeling of something in the throat by itself is very rarely due to cancer, though it’s natural for people with this symptom to worry that this may be the case.

If you would like to arrange an appointment to discuss your symptoms further, please do so via using one of the available options on our contact us page