When infected mucus drips or gets caught in the back of your throat it can cause discomfort. You will naturally try to get rid of the feeling by employing another protective mechanism: clearing your throat. Throat clearing is related to coughing but is different in that it is a reaction to mucus in the throat, not in the lungs. Furthermore, because it is sometimes hard to dislodge the thick mucus, you may continue to have the dripping sensation even after you attempt to clear your throat. Many of my patients who suffer from this problem tell me that they will not go out socially because they are embarrassed by their frequent throat clearing.
Even during an office examination, some physicians are not able to see the mucus in the back of the throat. Usually, they are not looking deep enough. These physicians may misdiagnose their patients with GERD or LPRD (which can also cause throat clearing). Worse, a physician may tell his or her patients that throat clearing is a “nervous habit.”
I have suffered from this symptom, and I know that it is a very irritating and very real physiological condition. I have been told by some of my ENT colleagues that my incessant throat clearing is not a physiological problem but rather a nervous tic. When I showed them how to properly suction out the mucus that was dripping from my sinuses to the back of my throat, my throat clearing stopped. They could not believe the amount of mucus that was present in my sinuses, which they could not see on general inspection. Furthermore, when I suffer from excessive mucus production, my GERD and LPRD start to act up, which makes my throat clearing symptoms worse. When the trapped mucus is suc - tioned or relieved by irrigation or when I can finally clear it myself, my GERD and LPRD will usually resolve and my throat clearing will stop.
If you suffer from this symptom, don’t feel as if you were either crazy or intentionally making others uncomfortable. While it is irritating to
yourself and others around you, like any other symptom of sinus disease, it can be relieved through proper diagnosis and treatment.