Do This With Your Ear To Stop The Annoying Tickle In Your Throat

You're at the dinner table with your friends. Everyone is laughing and having a good time. You're about to contribute to the conversation when you feel a slight tickling sensation begin in your throat. It builds up before you can do anything about it, and you let out something that sounds like a cough and a grunt mixed together. And now you're embarrassed. 

We've all been there. Tickles in the throat are caused by a number of factors, including pet dander, other allergens in the environment, air pollution, cold or dry air, and even a common cold, per Healthline

According to a pharmacist and herbalist who goes by the name angelapharmd on TikTok, there is something you can do with your ear to send that tickle back to where it came from. "If you get a tickle in your throat and you are in a library or classroom, in the office, [or] in the movie theater, and you need to stop it, just put your finger inside your ear and move it around." Inserting a pinkie into the ear on the side in which you feel the buildup of the throat tickle, will make the throat itch stop. "You won't have to cough," added the pharmacist. 

Why does this hack work?

It may have to do with the fact that stimulating your ear nerves causes a spasm in your throat, according to Dr. Scott Schaffer, president of an ear, nose, and throat specialty center in Gibbsboro, New Jersey (via Men's Health). Referring to a slightly different technique of scratching your ear to relieve yourself of an annoying throat tickle, Schaffer explained, "When the nerves in the ear are stimulated, it creates a reflex in the throat that can cause a muscle spasm. This spasm relieves the tickle."

As interesting and quick as this trick might be to save yourself from coughing out loud in places where you don't want to, it is important to keep in mind that throat tickles are not always caused by less serious factors like allergens and colds. Sometimes, they can be a sign of medical conditions like laryngitis (inflammation of the voice box), sinus infection, an inflamed pharynx, acid reflux, or even throat cancer, per Healthline. With something as serious as throat cancer, however, you'd likely notice other symptoms like an alteration of your voice and lumps near your throat. If your throat tickle is temporary and goes off with home remedies like this ear hack, then there's nothing to worry about, but if it persists, you should see a healthcare provider about it.

Other things to keep in mind

If you've ever been to an ear, nose, and throat specialist, they would have probably warned you against sticking things in your ears. In fact, even using cotton swabs to clean your ears is one of the lesser-known mistakes many people make with their ears

Ear wax — the stuff you're so eager to clean — actually serves a purpose and usually drains out on its own, according to ear surgeon Dr. Erika Woodson, per Cleveland Clinic. "The purpose of earwax is to waterproof and protect your ears," explained the expert. "It has both antifungal and antibacterial properties to help prevent infection." 

Apart from the question of just how clean your fingers are before you stick them in your ears to relieve a throat tickle (or clean your ears), you also run the risk of accidentally scratching your ear canal, which can then cause an infection (via GoHealth Urgent Care). You can also end up pushing ear wax further into your ear, which can lead to buildup. Your ears are sensitive parts of your body. Treat them with care and be mindful of these risks, even if you're just trying to get rid of an annoying tickle.