Swallowing and speaking is usually effortless and cough only happens occasionally. We don’t usually notice our throat until something goes wrong. Symptoms can include:
- A change in the sound of the voice or a feeling of strain when speaking.
- A feeling in the throat like a tickle or a lump or mucus.
- Frequent coughing.
Most cough, voice and throat problems are harmless. Occasionally, there can be serious disease like cancer, auto-immune disease or unusual infection. Signs you may have a serious problem include:
- Being a smoker or drinking alcohol every day.
- Having trouble swallowing, getting worse over time.
- Coughing while drinking water or thin fluids.
- Pain in the throat and ear.
- Coughing or vomiting blood.
- Change in voice lasting longer than one month.
If you have these symptoms, your GP will make an urgent referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat/Head and Neck surgeon.
Viral infections can cause cough, voice and throat problems. The symptoms usually resolve without treatment within a few weeks. If your cough, voice and throat problems last longer than 4 weeks, there are no signs of serious disease and there is no obvious cause for the symptoms, your GP will make a non-urgent referral.
The 4 most common reasons for having cough, voice and throat problems lasting longer than 4 weeks are:
- Asthma or other respiratory disease.
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux.
- Irritable larynx or globus pharyngeus syndrome.
The surgeon does a thorough examination including nasal endoscopy