We all need to clear our throat from time to time, but constantly feeling like you have a frog in your throat and/or chronically or excessively clearing your throat can be a symptom of anxiety. You might also feel like you have excessive mucus or phlegm in your throat or nasal passages and may often have a raw or sore throat due to frequent throat clearing.
Why Can Anxiety Cause A Frog In The Throat?
As with a lot of physical symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases the stress chemicals cortisol and adrenaline and activates the stress response called the fight, flight or freeze response. When you experience stress frequently, you can develop chronic stress, also known as hyperstimulation, which is when your stress response is on high alert for a prolonged period of time, long after the perceived threat has passed.
The stress response can cause a frog in the throat and desire to clear the throat by causing an increase in mucus and phlegm production. It can do this in a number of ways. For example, the stress response suppresses the body’s immune system, thereby reducing your bodies’ ability to fight off bacteria and infection. This increases your likelihood of experiencing infections that cause phlegm and mucus, such as sinus infections. Suppressing the immune system can also lead to an increase in blood sugar, which allows Candida, a pathogenic yeast found in the gut, mouth, and vagina, to flourish. An overgrowth of Candida in the mouth and nasal passage can also cause an excess of phlegm and mucus, triggering the desire to clear the throat.
The stress response can also aggravate allergies, which can create excess phlegm and mucus. Stress and anxiety can also trigger asthma, leading to an increase in phlegm production. The stress response can also cause hyperventilation, which can cause a decrease in carbon monoxide in the blood, leading to an increase in mucus production.
Chronic stress can cause stomach and digestive problems which can cause acid reflux, which needs to be cleared from the throat. Stomach and digestive problems can also create problems with phlegm and mucus. The stress response can also cause dehydration which can lead to an increase in histamine, which can prompt an increase and thickening of mucus, again triggering the need to clear the throat.
How Can I Stop This Symptom?
As this symptom stems from our fight, flight or freeze response, the main thing that we can do to combat it is to focus on our breathing, adopting anxiety-reducing breathing techniques, such as controlled diaphragmatic breathing or box breathing. This should calm our central nervous system, distract our mind from the perceived threat, and deactivate our fight, flight or freeze response allowing our rational brain to kick back in and regain a semblance of control and feel the black cloud lift.
Though this will help short-term, in order to prevent the symptoms of anxiety and stress occurring in the first place, you need to manage or build strategies to tackle your anxiety and stress. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information. As excess mucus production is related to other things, such as an overgrowth of Candida, talk to your doctor to find the root cause and therefore the best course of action.