Return to the Care Givers Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
incessant throat clearing

Posted by coolbeans (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 6, 14 at 19:49

Ok, I feel guilty even posting this, but I am desperate for help. My elderly father with senile dementia clears his throat every 10 seconds for an hour after each meal. It's not a gentle "ahem," it's a feral, growling, mucous-y noise that makes my skin crawl. I am sorry, but it is disgusting, and it is making me CRAZY.

I have tried numerous things to help it -- prilosec, nasal decongestants, antihistamines, no dairy, no OJ, lots of nice hot tea -- to no avail. He had a barium swallowing study done at the hospital, normal results. He had a speech therapist evaluate his swallow, weak but not abnormal for being 90.

I am at my wit's end.

Thank you for listening.


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

Are the windows open a lot & marigolds planted outside? My mom had an awful time every time she sat down to eat, this was years ago, finally dad closed the window right beside where she was eating & it helped but didn't go away, also door to garage few feet away & 3 kids in the house, going in & out. Dad had ragweed allergy & found out they are in same family, pulled them all out & there were a lot but it ended mom's problems of choking & coughing every time she sat down to eat. After that the window was always open some. So it can be strange things, do you bring flowers in, especially mums are bad too. Is he a smoker? at his age that would be pretty normal, body doesn't handle smoke well, do you smoke or anyone else smoking near him, could be eating & smoke at same time is too much for his system. I'm terribly allergic to smoke but took so long to figure it out! It reacts different with different people. New clothes that haven't been washed, new cabinet in kitchen made of particle board? Another thing is has he had a stroke? They sometimes "store" food in cheek as difficult to swallow it, my dad did that for awhile after his stroke, I would have him spit it out in napkin. Amazing how much he stored as too hard to swallow, no matter what the test said, he may not want to swallow or fear swallowing so ask to see inside of his mouth if he won't spit in a napkin. Maybe just habit but at his age & condition hard to tell. Ask if he feels like he is breathing OK. Heart trouble sometimes causes people to have a cough but not usually noises like that I don't think. You may need earplugs or cotton stuffed in ears(earplugs made my ears itch) mom made noises during the night & it drove me crazy sometimes too. Good Luck.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

I have this going on and I'm not elderly nor senile. :) Is your dad on bp meds? Lisinopril and similar causes a cough, but in my case it involved almost constant clearing of the throat. For some reason, doctors don't tell their patients about this side-effect and many people go through a long and arduous search for an answer--makes me mad. I'm on another one now, but dairy, sugar and toothpaste(!) can get it going, as well as not having drunk enough water.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

sunny's comment about marigolds made me remember that I was having a similar problem, but only when I ate in the kitchen. After some investigation I found out that the cleaning lady was using a particular oil on the table - and everything else. I would lay my arm (s) on the table, get it on my skin and have a severe allergy attack. I asked her not to use that oil anymore and that solved the problem. I guess my point is to look for something off-the-wall that he may be reacting to.

Also, is he eating too much at one sitting? I've read that people with dementia can't always judge when they're hungry or full.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

This must be so annoying for you and your dad- you have my sympathies. How long ago was his swallow test? Since he clears his throat constantly after eating it seems that he does not feel that his airway is clear. Has the speech therapist given advice on how to help your father swallow his food- such as tucking his chin a bit when he swallows? Can you check his mouth after he eats to see if there is any food left in there. Also- I have noticed that string beans seem to cause some problems with the elderly when they eat them. They tend to get "stuck" back in the throat.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

Your comment, ''every 10 seconds for an hour after each meal,'' is key.

Have you seen an ENT doc? If so, suggest get a second opinion and possibly tests repeated. Saw a patient last week referred for second opinion, the test results he was given were not his, there was a transcription error.

Psychogenic/habit cough is another possibility. However, cannot overemphasize - get a second opinion!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cough study


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

Might be simple dehydration.

I have to watch that. If I can't clear my throat I'm dehydrated. Gotta drink water. sometimes lots of it and it takes time for it to absorb in. Often happens in the evening after dinner. Hate to drink water on top of dinner but there's no other way.

When I was a kid doctors put me thru the tortures of the damned. Couldn't figure it out. Too simple. I figured it out when I was about 43.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

Thanks everyone for your helpful comments and support. What a nice group of people on this forum!

He is on Lisinopril, but has been for over 7 years and the throat clearing started about a year ago. His doctor says this side effect presents at the outset, not after so many years.

The swallow study and speech evaluation were within the past year. He has all of his teeth, no difficulty chewing food, and enjoys every meal. He is not keeping food in his mouth. He is very "present," just cannot form any new memories.

We live in the south and our windows are sealed tight with the air conditioning on. I do think that allergies are a likely culprit because his nose is always running. But we tried a 6 month course of a prescription nasal spray and it didn't help.

A physical therapist who attended to him suggested it was just habit.

The dehydration hypothesis is new to me, and I will follow up on that. He does tend to limit his fluids because he doesn't want to take so many trips to the bathroom. But the weird thing is, he starts clearing his throat when he drinks anything.

Getting old is certainly not for sissies. Again, I appreciate your kind suggestions. Thank you.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

Listen to mdln. Good advice.

Maybe a little reflux or aspiration. Is he sitting up in a chair for meals and then sitting up for awhile after meals?

Can he chew? Try a couple of Tums after meals.

See what happens.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

I have found that drinking cold water ( like out of the refer) seems to generate my hacking. Room temp water (like out of the tap) does not. I have no explanation for that.

Related info: When I drove truck in the summer here in N. Cal it is HOT. On the FWY it is even HOTTER. I took a thermometer in the cab one time - when it hit 117ºF I tossed it out. To keep my throat from feeling like it needed clearing and to keep my nose or sinuses from plugging I took 4 swallows of water every 1/2 hour. Without that the plugging and hacking occurred.

We all carried 1-2 gallons of water in summer.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

I am in my early 40's and have had this problem also although not as severe as your fathers seems to be. My throat is extremely "tickley" after I eat and I cough and clear my throat often. I keep a supply of cough drops handy and pop one if I start to get that feeling. It helps quite a bit. I can very well see where it could also be habit as the therapist suggested. At any rate a cough drop may keep his throat feeling clearer or just keep his mouth busy enough to not be constantly clearing if it is only habit.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

I am in my early 40's and have had this problem also although not as severe as your fathers seems to be. My throat is extremely "tickley" after I eat and I cough and clear my throat often. I keep a supply of cough drops handy and pop one if I start to get that feeling. It helps quite a bit. I can very well see where it could also be habit as the therapist suggested. At any rate a cough drop may keep his throat feeling clearer or just keep his mouth busy enough to not be constantly clearing if it is only habit.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

I also have the problem with hacking, dry but annoying when I eat or drink something cold. This can be any thing from water, fruit, but especially any cold drink of any kind.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

Update: I've started asking him to stop clearing his throat, and he does! (Habit? He perseverates about everything.).

I have also increased his intake of not-too-cold liquids.

Thank you for your ideas and support. CB


 o
throat clearing

Glad you are getting some relief! Lot of helpful suggestions here mostly from our own experience & as they say" the best teacher is experience". Glad you told us what is working, it might help someone else.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

Well I got really curious since sinus clogging and throat clearing have been a life long problem for me - solved at age 43 - simple dehydration. Since I have solved my problem I've merely kept up with it but for quite some years I have wondered just how the dehydration caused my symptoms. So!

Tonite I Googled >Dehydration and Sinus< as well as >Dehydration and Dry Cough<
It would seem there are many causes and dehydration is one. I did not persue this at length - just enough to see that my observations (of myself) were valid. Here is just one site of interest.

The Effects Of Dehydration : Your Health Journal
http://www.lensaunders.com/wp/the-effects-of-dehydration/

And here are 3 statements I copied which confirm my observations:

Avoid cold water or ice water because that just shocks the body and you just end up going to the bathroom with very little being absorbed

Without enough fluid in the body, the mucus will thicken, making it difficult for the cilia to move it through the sinuses.

I advise patients to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can make the mucus more tenacious and difficult to clear; (from the throat).

This, of course, doesn't mean that I consider my suggestion to be the true solution; just that it was/is a valid consideration among many.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Effects Of Dehydration : Your Health Journal


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

There was an excellent article written recently about water. ( I think it was in an AARP publication.). Let's see if I can remember most of the recommendations:

* 2 glasses of warm water right after getting up.... helps get the internal body up and running;
* a glass of water 1/2 hour before meals;
* a glass of water before going to bed;
There are 2 more, but it can't remember them. I imagine they were to do with keeping hydrated the rest of the time.

I remember my grandparents always drinking a glass of water right away each morning. I guess that much that's new is really old.

Going pee at night is good since the kidneys are clearing out the water that accumulated in the lower half of our body during the day... at least for those of us over 50.

Doctors have always told us to drink lots of fluids when we have a cold to keep the mucus thin.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

I'll just offer this up since it happened to me and it would be hard to make the connection BUT Splenda gives me HORRIBLE sinus drainage and makes me have to clear my throat probably for an hour or so after I consume it. I have, of course, stopped using Splenda! Sulfates in your food will also cause this sinus drainage.


 o
RE: incessant throat clearing

dd (32 years old) has cleared her throat all the time for years, we thought it was asthma as she does suffer from that
about a year and a half ago, she came down with bronchitis, laryngitis, sore throat and missed her first days teaching in 9 years
went to the dr 3 times in 2 weeks doctor finally told her to get on zyrtec every single day and it would clear up, not to stop the zyrtec when she started getting better-which took several days
she's still taking the zyrtec and no throat clearing and no asthma attacks
after suffering from allergies, asthma, and the continual throat clearing for almost 20 years, she's finally ok.......


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Care Givers Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here