Anxiety can affect your throat

Have you ever lost your voice due to stress? Have you ever suffered from a sore throat at times when you had a greater workload and felt particularly worried? We explain why this happens.

Anxiety can affect your throat

Last update: June 14, 2023

Anxiety can affect the throat. Indeed, it is a condition that many of us have experienced at one time or another. Hoarseness, feeling of lump in the throat and pain when swallowing. You may suffer from any of these discomforts when you are going through a stressful time of endless pressure with little time for calm and rest.

Sometimes, you overlook (or aren’t aware of) the many ways stress or anxiety affects your health. You are aware of emotional and cognitive symptoms, such as distress, feeling overwhelmed, having trouble making decisions, or having to focus your attention. But often, for example, the problem of insomnia or stomach ache is not associated with one’s psychological state.

This means that you may visit primary care looking for a medication to soothe cough, dryness and sore throat. You might tell yourself it’s a cold or an allergy. So ignore what has really been bothering your mind for days or weeks. Finally, it can end up affecting your whole body, including your vocal cords.

How Anxiety Affects Your Throat

Man suffering from stress sore throat

Sore throat always tends to put us on alert. The classic itchy throat is worrying because it can signify the origin of a viral disease. Colds and flu are usually the most common cause. Allergies can also trigger this condition. However, a stress-related sore throat may come as a surprise because there is no specific viral or allergic factor. This discomfort is triggered by a psychological state.

Why does this happen? Stress is the mental and physical exhaustion caused by demands that are beyond you and that you cannot control. But, how can mental overload lead, for example, to pharyngitis? Let’s find out.

Muscle tension (dysphonia)

Dysphonia is a disorder that affects the timbre of the voice. Suddenly, you feel hoarseness or a somewhat strange tone in your voice. Also, your throat feels uncomfortable. It seems to you that you have been yelling a lot and your throat is tired and inflamed.

Hoarseness can appear in situations of high stress. Sometimes, the simple act of public speaking can cause it.

This is stated by a study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia (USA). the origin lies in the muscular tension of this area of ​​the throat. Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol are at the root of this situation.

Difficulty swallowing (hysterical bolus)

Have you ever felt a lump in your throat? The sensation where you suddenly find it difficult to swallow saliva and feel as if something is blocking your throat it is called hysterical bolus or pharyngeal balloon. It occurs in intense states of stress or anxiety. These are situations in which your brain prepares you to flee or face a dangerous and threatening stimulus.

To do this, it blocks processes related to digestion or swallowing. For example, priority is given to getting more oxygen to the muscles of the extremities and reducing tasks such as saliva production. This makes your throat tense, so it’s hard for you to swallow. It can even make you feel almost like you are drowning. However, these are more extreme situations.

Sore throat due to stress and changes in breathing

A sore throat when you’re anxious can also be the result of a change in your breathing. When you go through moments of heightened physiological intensity, distress, worry, and external pressure, you usually feel the following:

  • You have a greater tendency to breathe through your mouth in an effort to get more air. This makes the throat dry and sore.
  • Long-lasting stress states often lead to sleep disturbances. In these cases, it is common to suffer from tachycardia and rapid breathing. Also, during the night, you may end up breathing through your mouth in such a way that you experience sensations of irritation, dryness and discomfort.
Woman relaxing to relieve stress sore throat

How to avoid sore throat due to anxiety

These alterations that originate from states such as stress or anxiety basically require a change in lifestyle. Sore throat is just a symptom, the manifestation of something that you need to treat, treat and manage. Here are some helpful strategies:

  • Detect stressful sources or situations and make some adjustments. Even small changes can mean big benefits for your well-being.
  • Pay attention to your thoughts and become aware of any exhausting, negative, or irrational ideas so you can increase your feelings of well-being.
  • Learn new troubleshooting techniques. Above all, avoid persistent worry.
  • Apply relaxation and breathing techniques. For example, deep or diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Get enough rest and take care of your sleep hygiene.
  • Play sports and stay active. Exercise increases endurance and muscle tone. This allows you not only to improve your well-being but also your breathing.

Other non-infectious causes causing sore throat

On the other hand, you should take note of some daily habits that can cause a sore throat without the presence of a viral or allergic factor. When added to a sore throat caused by anxiety, they can get in the way of treating the condition. Ideally, you should try to avoid the following, according to research:

  • To smoke. Both smokers themselves and those exposed to secondhand smoke (secondhand smoke) are at increased risk of sore throat. Also, people with high levels of stress use cigarettes as a way to calm down. Better to look for other ways to relax.
  • Snore it is also associated with high frequencies of sore throat, although the direction of the causation is not always clear. However, experiencing a sore throat frequently is a risk factor for snoring and vice versa. In these cases, a sore throat may be associated with adult obstructive sleep apnea. If you suffer from snoring, consult your doctor to find the best solution.
  • Shouts and a loud voice load it can lead to sore throats, according to people in professions that require the use (and overuse) of their voice. For example, aerobics instructors and school teachers report an increased incidence of sore throats. In these cases, the ideal would be to identify tools that help reduce the damage to the throat.

Finally, in all cases of sore throat, it is best to visit your doctor first so that they can rule out viral problems, inflammation and allergies. In case this type of discomfort is a constant in times of stress, do not hesitate to use the suggestions above or consult a specialized professional.

You might be interested…

All sources cited have been thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography for this article has been deemed reliable and of scholarly or scientific accuracy.

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