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Q: deep throat tickle causes coughing ( Answered,   12 Comments )
Subject: deep throat tickle causes coughing
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: kr3-ga
List Price: $7.00
Posted: 31 Jul 2002 13:13 PDT
Expires: 30 Aug 2002 13:13 PDT
Question ID: 47618
need remedy for deep throat tickle that causes gagging coughing;  the
coughing is overwhelming/irresistable, and yet does not help the
tickle, which is deeper down than coughing touches. the tickle can be
on either side of throat, and does not seem associated with what side
i lay on while in bed. the coughing sometimes eases when i stand up,
and subsides after being upright afew minutes. occurs most often when
i have a cold, and especially after about 15 minutes of lying down in
bed at night, but lately occurs even when upright or when i have no
cold.  Am taking zyrtec for seasonal allergies, guaifenisen 2x/day,
flonase spray 2x/day; have also tried nightly actifed, 30 minutes
before bed, to no avail.  have had this for years, but is getting
worse (i'm 48).  have been checked by 3 doctors, incl. an ENT, who put
a tube down my nose and found nothing wrong; they all say it's just
nasal dripping, and prescribe decongestants, which really don't seem
to make any difference.  my mom and grandma have this too.  i used to
use Vick's nasal drops down the nostrils, which helped some, but those
aren't around anymore and it was creepy, anyway!  :)  i can drug
myself to sleep with oxycodone, but obviously that's not a longterm
solution.  my sleep is interrupted multiple times a night (and
disturbs husband, too!). i often have to go sleep upright in the
recliner in the living room.  it's not the pillow--this happens no
matter where i sleep (home or away)or what type pillow i have.  it
FEELS as if when i breathe, air dries out a spot deep at the back of
the throat, and causes the tickle/itch (like when you are lying on the
beach after being in the ocean, and the evaporating sea water makes
your skin itchy.) i drink enough water each day, so i'm generally well
hydrated. please help!

Request for Question Clarification by missy-ga on 31 Jul 2002 13:27 PDT
Have you tried a humidifier?

Request for Question Clarification by voila-ga on 31 Jul 2002 13:27 PDT
Have you also had an EGD?  Many times these symptoms are a result of
gastroesophageal reflux disease for which you need the advice of a
healthcare professional.  You may also want to seek the advice of an
allergist and undergo specific allergy testing.

Clarification of Question by kr3-ga on 31 Jul 2002 16:42 PDT
all very good comments, thank you!  i'm not a smoker, nor do i hang
around anyone who is.  hadn't thought of trying a humidifier. ( how
does one do that with wood furniture?)  RE:  GERD--my husband had that
for 12 yrs (on prilosec), and just had the surgery May 31.  his
symptoms were mainly heartburn, not cough.  I'm a RN, and i don't
believe it's a GERD problem.  our bed is propped up about 4 inches. 
The only other meds i'm on are cholesterol and lots of
vitamin/mineral/supplements type things. No recent antibiotics.  My TB
tests and chest xrays are clear, and i don't think it's bronchitis.  i
can breathe just fine (taking all the antihistamines,
decongestants,and nasal spray ensures that!)  It occurs all year
round.  We are military, so we move every 2 yrs. & it's been with me
in both cold and humid climates.  We live in the seattle area now,
having just moved here last august.  i could probably use to go see an
allegist again.  i've always had seasonal and inhalant allergies.
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
Answered By: siliconsamurai-ga on 01 Aug 2002 05:39 PDT
Hi, I think I can help. I have no references for this and no links to
offer but, as you say that doctors have nothing helpful to contribute,
I am answering this question from personal experience and I hope my
experience helps.

For several years I have experienced occasional bouts of something
which sounds remarkably like your problem. Although I don’t encounter
it often, it is severe when it occurs and it sometimes lasts for days
off and on.

We have proper humidity, a high-end air filter, and I too have some
allergies which seem unrelated to this throat tickle.

I don’t have any more information as to what causes this than you do
(or your doctors) but I do have a simple, mechanical solution which
works for me every time. It has the advantages of being very
inexpensive and the possibility that a slight variant, which might
also work, will involve no drugs.

After having no luck with doctors, I addressed this problem very
directly – cough medicine is very soothing, therefore I tried taking a
small sip of Vicks 44D and it instantly stopped the tickle which
sometimes doesn’t return for days. Since the effect is immediate I
doubt it has anything to do with either the alcohol content or any of
the medicines in Vicks 44D.  Although this is a severe problem when it
does occur, I only have rare bouts and therefore never bothered
testing any alternatives to using Vicks but I do know that the syrup
used as the soothing basis for liquid cough medicines is available by

What I suggest is that you start by getting a small bottle of Vicks
44d (just in case there is some magical element in that particular
remedy) and give it a try. Don’t take as much as the recommended
dosage unless you need that much, just enough of a sip to coat your

If this works and you find you need to rely on this fairly often then
you should investigate obtaining the same soothing liquid without all
the medicines found in over-the-counter cough syrups. Personally I
don't go through a bottle in a full year now. Not only does it work
immediatly, it also seems to reduce the frequency of the problem.

As for your question about humidifiers and wooden furniture,
maintaining a good level of humidity is actually good for wood
furniture but I wouldn’t spend money on a humidifier before buying an
inexpensive humidity meter to see if you need one. Since you live in
Seattle I doubt that low humidity is a problem.

Additional Links:

In addition, I have some other suggestions which might prove useful.
The allergy medications you are taking probably exacerbate this
dryness so I want to remind you that many prescriptions heavily
advertised on TV have NOT been proven more effective than some over
the counter medicines. They are advertised precisely because there is
often no compelling reason to switch to the latest, most expensive

Given that, have you experimented with the use of a good air filter in
the bedroom and some other allergy medications?  A high-end
hospital-grade air filter will cost about $400 but I have a much less
expensive suggestion to use for a trial period.

Bear in mind that I am NOT saying the air cleaners will address your
tickle problem, although it might. The idea is to reduce your need for
allergy medicine which is probably contributing to the problem you

Do not bother with the various ion air cleaners such as the one
heavily advertised by The Sharper Image – I have not found them very
effective. If they worked as well as advertised there would be a large
mound of dirt at their base after running for a few days in our
dog-infested household.

Here is a link to a $500 air cleaner, I am not necessarily
recommending that you purchase from Hammacher Schlemmer but they do
offer an excellent guarantee and a liberal return policy. The ruturn
policy is what makes it a good choice.
One which I have found useful is the Austin Air filter but replacing
filters can become expensive. Here’s a link to the company.

Here is a source of the Austin Air Cleaner.

If you want a cheap way to add a high-quality air filter I can supply
details on that also. Just buy a box fan and duct tape a good quality
filter to the intake side. This isn’t elegant but using a box fan and
a pleated furnace air filter, or the really good self-generating
static permanent filters (about $25), you can test out the efficacy of
a real hospital-quality air cleaner for just a few dollars before
spending $400 or $500.

Search Strategy:

I didn’t use one, I answered from my personal experience and knowledge
of three vendor sites for the particular air cleaners.

I hope this suggestion works as well for you as it does for me. Of
course this is NOT medical advice and I would normally send you to an
ENT immediately but you say that you have already done that.

I will be happy to discuss this further if you need more information
but I have supplied everything I already know about this condition
from personal experience.

If you try this out please let us know if it works.
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: bobthedispatcher-ga on 31 Jul 2002 13:31 PDT
I had a very similar problem - turned out to be post-nasal drip
It was horrible - but a round of antibiotics and some decongestants
helped a lot
It would pay to have it checked by a doctor - other problems including
various heart problems are possible
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: dstern-ga on 31 Jul 2002 13:33 PDT
Do you smoke, or spend a lot of time with someone who smokes? Is this
cough an all year thing, or has worsened around a particular time for
a few months year after year(this could mean that you have chronic
bronchitis)?  What medications are you on?  Have you been treated with
a course of antibiotics recently?  Have you talked to any of your
doctors about going to a pulmonary clinic for chronic cough (depending
on the doctor and your insurance, they may be reluctant to bring it up
because of pressure from your insurance company)?
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: sublime1-ga on 31 Jul 2002 22:58 PDT
Hello kr3-ga...

Being that you are a RN, you may not have explored alternatives outside the 
medical profession, with which I am familiar. It seems possible you have a
thyroid imbalance which can be stabilized by the use of Atomidine, or atomic
iodine. The psychic Edgar Cayce, who did medical readings in the 1920s for
patients whose doctors had given up on them, had a very high success rate in
recommending successful treatments for them. He was called "the sleeping
psychic", as he did his readings in an unconscious, hypnogogic state. In
addition to the suggestion of familiar things, such as changes in diet,
massage, and colonics, he often detailed how to formulate new remedies,
of which Atomidine is one. Even with the same remedy, such as Atomidine,
he would outline protocols which were individualized. Nonetheless, a common
protocol for Atomidine is to take 1 drop in a glass of water for 5 days,
discontinue for 5 days, then resume for 5 days, repeating this for months,
as needed. This would balance not only the thyroid, but the entire endocrine
system, as well.

One way you can test the thyroid for this need is to place the thumb and 
forefinger of your strongest hand just above the shoulder blades, and to
sides of the thyroid, towards the front of the throat. Exhale completely, 
and squeeze your fingers together while pushing straight in. Do this gently,
at first, but firmly enough to palpate deeply. If the thyroid is toxic or
imbalanced, you will definitely feel a tickle, and the need to cough.
Massaging the thyroid in this way, in addition to the use of Atomidine, 
will speed the process of restoring balance and detoxing the thyroid.

Atomidine is available here:

Searches done, via Google:


If you have success with this (though that will likely take some time to
determine), and wish to consider this your answer, notify me in a 
clarification, or email Google, at: and
indicate this.

Good health!

Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: sublime1-ga on 31 Jul 2002 23:06 PDT

I meant to add that, in addition to the cyclical approach to the use of 
Atomidine, Cayce also consistently recommended this approach to the use
of vitamins and supplements. He noted that this allows the body to regain
its innate ability to synthesize the nutrients being suplemented. Taking 
vitamins and supplements continually is as debilitating and dependency-
producing as relying on laxatives or sleep-aids. He suggested the same
5 day on/5 day off approach to the use of vitamins. Continual use of 
vitamins and supplements may even be contributing to your condition.

Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: dexterpexter-ga on 01 Aug 2002 00:19 PDT
It very well could be a minor reaction to something.  I have had
similar problems and it has taken a long time of trial and elimination
to alleviate this problem.  You will be suprised what can cause it. 
The foam in your car seats could develop a slight black mold (a
terrible thing that seems to be spreading everywhere) and you might
not experience the effects until much later (like in the night!)  It
may or may not be allergy...but I would eliminate risky things slowly,
one by one, anyways.  I would wash all of your covers and pillows, and
get rid of any down (feather) pillows for the time being.  Remove all
animals from the house, and try eliminating things in the room that
could aggrivate your throat: plants, dust, mold (you will be suprised
how many homes and schools mold is in.  Sometimes moving doesn't help
since it seems to be everywhere), flowers, feathers, stuffed animals,
heavy curtains, chemicals, perfumes, candles, etc.  Change your
filters.  Change the bed sheets.  Wear a different fabric of clothing
to sleep in.  Eliminate different vitamins.  Do not eat honey-based
products.  Change soaps.  Change lotions.
Do not eat allergy-prone foods.  A full list of these may be found

I know all of that sounds silly, and it is not advisable to do it all
at once.  If symptoms do not improve, you can return something and
eliminate another.  Work your way down the list until you find what it
is.  Until then, try a different doctor and get re-examined.
I know eliminating a lot of that list is over-dramatic and silly, but
I have had to go through it one-by-one to really understand what I am
allergic to and things that aggrivate my throat, that I never knew

One last thing: could it be your husband?  That might sound silly, but
is a possibility.  Night time is the one time in which you are really
continuously in contact with him and in close quarters with less air
circulation.  It could be something he wears, his aftershave, his work

If not allergy, it could be something viral and perhaps serious.  I
again advise against online diagnoses, and always, always suggest that
people have a 2nd opinion and fully explain to their doctor in person
their symptoms and have bloodwork done.  Another perspective is
sometimes just the cure! :)

Good luck,
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: missy-ga on 01 Aug 2002 07:43 PDT
Hi kr3!

A humidifier won't harm your wood furniture.

My husband, children and I all suffer from allergies.  Additionally,
our apartment is heated electrically, which dries the air out a bit
too much.  We've all had your problem on occasion, the husband
suffered constantly until we got a humidifier.

We use a Duracraft Cool Mist humidifier, similar in size and shape to
this one by Holmes (and we change the filter every month):

It has helped us immensely.  

You mentioned you also have seasonal allergies - here are some things
that might help:  if you have central air, change your filters once a
month, and use microfilters.  They catch a lot more dust.  Get a
bagless vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters, and use it daily.  Don't
dust with a soft cloth or feather duster - use those nifty Endust or
Old English wipes. They pick up all the dust and pollen instead of
letting it back into the air to annoy you.

You'd be amazed at how much all of these little things can help
alleviate allergy discomfort.  Good luck!  I hope you're straightened
around and getting a good night's sleep soon!

Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: dexterpexter-ga on 01 Aug 2002 23:52 PDT
I know that this has been answered, but I feel I must comment on your
assertion that the humidifier won't harm wood furniture.   Perhaps you
have been lucky, but this assertion is false.  Although not common,
wood furniture (depending on the type of wood and the coating on the
wood) can be harmed by humidity.  In fact, I have known wooden
clarinets to be ruined by severe humidity.  Overzealous use of a
humidifier placed by antique wood furniture that doesn't have a
protective coat can very well harm your furniture.  Any sort of water
can harm wood products.  Ever see drink rings on antique tables and
absolutely cringe?  I have.  A pity.  Well-protected furniture, if
kept a reasonable distance from the humidifier, probably will not
sustain noticable damage, though.  In this sense, you are correct. 
HOwever, if this person has expensive antique wood furniture, I would
not so boldy assert that it will not cause damage.

Good day and Cheers!
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: siliconsamurai-ga on 03 Aug 2002 11:46 PDT
Reguarding a humidifier, I believe that both Missy and I were making
the assumption that the questioner would know without being told that
we were suggesting what most people would consider a normal humidity
level, not something so high that it would be likely to cause mold to
grow on most surfaces and warp wood, just normal humidity which is all
that should be required for normal breathing.

Yes, placing a humidifier where it sprays water directly on furniture
or keeping humidities at extreme levels can harm furniture, whether
that extreme is too wet or two dry, but used with a bit of common
sense it should be entirely possible for people to maintain a
comfortable humidity level without endangering any antique furniture
unless it is so frail that it should be kept in a special cabinet.
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: voila-ga on 04 Aug 2002 20:06 PDT
Just a couple thoughts on your question.   As an RN, I'm not quite
sure what you're looking for here.  The algorithm for diagnosing
chronic cough is here.
{}  Have you been down
this track already?  I mentioned GERD as many lay people don't know
chronic cough can be part of the symptom complex.   Also, different
people have varying symptoms with GERD.

You mentioned having the head of your bed elevated.  Have you tried
the anti-reflux measures that your husband is probably following ...
small meals, nothing to eat at least three hours before bed, no
alcohol, eliminating tomato-based, acidic foods?  This might be worth
a try for a month if you haven't implemented it already and it would
be at no cost to you.  Sometimes it's just a matter of ruling things
in or out.

You mentioned the military and from personal experience sometimes
there's only a fair amount of continuity of care as you move from base
to base.   It might help to go out of network to find a specialist. 
Have the same doctors followed you for this condition or is each
starting from scratch?  You've also moved to a very damp climate and
the mold count might be a factor.

I have had your allergic symptoms off and on but never to your extent,
thank goodness!   What's worked for me is to take Benadryl Allergy and
Sinus at night.  Another thing I've found helpful are the Breathe
Right Strips.   I also use a large shot glass full of lemon, honey,
and Wellers warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Instant good
night's sleep.

If you can hang on, there are several anti-IgG allergy drugs in
clinical trials and I hope they'll benefit all of us allergy

You have some good suggestions here and I wish you luck with your
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: johnfrommelbourne-ga on 07 Aug 2002 10:26 PDT
Well you aint Robinson Crusoe mate,  if thats any consolation, as I
have very near the same problem you have, as described. I was scared
to front the doctor fearing the worst as my condition dragged on for
many months. It is only this last two weeks that I seem to have
finally kicked it; well kicked it in as far as I was coughing all the
time but now down to infrequent at least and getting better by the day

 John From Melbourne
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: farmermarn-ga on 21 Feb 2004 19:28 PST
be careful with the humidifier- if your cough is caused by dust mite
allergy then a humidifier wouldn't be recommended...
Subject: Re: deep throat tickle causes coughing
From: nicksey-ga on 04 Feb 2005 06:29 PST
Just a thought, the problem obviously is at night, an allergy to the
dust mite can cause coughing and similar symptoms. If a dust mite
proof mattress protector is not being used then you should try one.
See here

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