Itchy Throat Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Allergies occur when your body mistakenly thinks something is “foreign” and tries to fight it off. Allergic reactions occur when you are exposed to your specific allergen, whether it’s in your environment or in the food you eat.

An itchy throat is one symptom that commonly occurs if you have allergies. Learn more about causes, symptoms, and treatment of itchy throat allergies in this article.

Woman touching throat

twinsisterphoto / Getty Images

Causes of Itchy Throat Allergies

Your immune system is responsible for fighting off diseases and removing toxins, bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances from your body. Specific proteins called “antibodies” are produced to fight off these substances.

Allergy symptoms, including an itchy throat, occur when your immune system makes antibodies to fight off harmless substances that it thinks are a threat to your body. Many common allergic reactions are linked to the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE).

Allergic reactions increase mucus production in your nasal passageways and sinuses. This can lead to postnasal drip—mucus that drains into the back of your throat. The inflammation caused by the reaction of the IgE antibody can cause an “itchy” sensation in your throat.

Allergies can be caused by substances in your environment, certain types of food or food ingredients, materials such as latex, medications, and insect bites/stings. The most common allergens include:

  • Dust mites
  • Pollen (trees, grass, and weeds)
  • Mold spores
  • Dog/cat dander
  • Cockroaches
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Soy products
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Apple skin

What Are Pollutants?

Itchy throat allergies can also be caused by inhaled pollutants. These can be found both indoors and outdoors. Common air pollutants include:

  • Cleaning products
  • Wood smoke
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Fragrances
  • Pesticides
  • Hygiene products
  • Dust particles
  • Gases

Symptoms

Itchy throat allergy symptoms typically occur at the same time as other allergy symptoms. These symptoms commonly include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing (whistling sound when breathing out)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Congestion
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea/vomiting (associated with food allergies)

Itchy throat from allergies feels different than other medical conditions that affect your throat.

  • Throat can feel itchy, ticklish, scratchy, like you have to keep clearing it
  • Throat does not typically feel raw, painful, or like breathing is restricted

What Is Anaphylaxis?

Allergic reactions can occasionally be life-threatening. This condition, called anaphylaxis, requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Fainting or lightheadedness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

Treatment

A variety of treatments are available for itchy throat allergies, including home remedies. Some target your immune system, such as antihistamines, while others aim to relieve discomfort in your throat.

  • Antihistamines: These medications block the action of histamines—chemicals in your immune system that are producing your symptoms. Antihistamines are available over-the-counter and by prescription from your doctor. Examples include Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra.
  • Lozenges/cough drops: Throat lozenges and cough drops slowly dissolve in your mouth to help soothe symptoms of itchy throat allergies. These sometimes contain ingredients such as menthol or benzocaine that temporarily decrease throat irritation and soreness.
  • Hard candy: Sucking on hard candy can help relieve itchy throat allergy symptoms by increasing saliva production and coating the surface of your throat.
  • Fluids: If you aren’t well hydrated, you won’t produce enough saliva. This can make your itchy throat allergy symptoms worse. You’ll know if you’re hydrated by the color of your urine. Aim for a pale yellow color. Water isn’t your only option—hot teas or broth-based soups can increase your fluid intake and help soothe your throat at the same time.
  • Honey: A spoonful of honey can coat your throat and temporarily soothe itching. If you don’t want to eat it plain, dissolve a couple of teaspoons in your favorite tea.
  • Salt water gargle: Add one-half teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and gargle (don’t swallow it). Do this every hour while your symptoms last.
  • Humidifiers and air purifiers: Treating the air you’re breathing can help relieve itchy throat allergies. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, and purifiers help to remove potential airborne allergens.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Oral allergy syndrome, also called pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS), is a condition that occurs when a person has an allergy to proteins that are found in certain types of pollen, along with raw vegetables and fruits, and some types of tree nuts.

Scratchy, itchy throat is one of the main symptoms of this condition, along with swelling in the tongue, lips, throat, and mouth. These symptoms appear after you’ve eaten the offending food item.

If you have seasonal allergies and also experience these symptoms after eating these types of food, you might have PFAS.

Food Allergies Associated With PFAS

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, the following food allergies are associated with different types of pollen allergies:

  • Birch: Cherry, celery, apple, hazelnut, almond, pear, peach, plum, kiwi, carrot
  • Grass: Melons, orange, cherry, tomato, celery, peach
  • Ragweed: Melons, cucumber, zucchini, banana, sunflower seeds

In order to treat this condition, you’ll need to avoid eating the offending foods in their raw form.

A Word From Verywell

While itchy throat allergies cause annoying symptoms, being proactive can help. See an allergist for allergy testing. Once you’ve identified your trigger(s), you can take steps to avoid contact.

Talk to your doctor about additional treatment options as well. In some cases, allergy shots can help your body get “used to” your allergen and decrease your symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I tell the difference between itchy throat allergies and COVID?

    Itchy throat can be a symptom of allergies or other conditions, including COVID. See your doctor for an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms.

  • What are some home remedies for an itchy throat?

    Soothe your itchy throat with lozenges, salt water gargles, a bit of honey, and plenty of fluids.

  • What herbal teas are helpful for an itchy throat?

    Herbal teas of any kind can help soothe an itchy throat. Hot liquids help break up mucus that is contributing to your symptoms. Consider adding a little honey to coat your throat and help decrease irritation.

Was this page helpful?
8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Allergies and the immune system.

  2. Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. Allergy facts and figures. Updated April 2021.

  3. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Air pollution. Updated October 2015.

  4. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Allergy symptoms.

  5. National Health Service. Anaphylaxis. Updated November 29, 2019.

  6. American Academy of Family Physicians. Antihistamines: understanding your OTC options. Updated July 21, 2019.

  7. Cleveland Clinic. What the color of your pee says about you.

  8. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Pollen food allergy syndrome. Updated March 21, 2019.