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Is Sore Throat Related to Chewing and Spitting?

By December 12, 2012

I am a 24 year old who has been chewing and spitting for at least 2 years. My throat has been sore lately and I wonder if it could be related? I also am under much stress, due to a new job, new location, relationship snaffu, and several trips to the doc to see about my absent periods, hair loss, etc. I have wondered if I have PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) or insulin resistance but the Mayo Clinic never gave me that diagnosis because they could not see my ovaries on their ultrasound, and I am not overweight. (I am 5’10, 155 lbs.; about 15 lbs heavier than even a year or two ago). Please guide me to get over my addiction, as I fear it is becoming that. I have wasted a lot of time and money on this horrible habit. – Misty

Dear Misty,

Speaking from a medical perspective, the sore throat could certainly be due to the chewing and spitting. This process causes a release of digestive enzymes that starts in the salivary glands and this could be irritating to the throat over time.

The chronic state of stress you describe can sometimes lead to the absence of menstrual cycles. The delicate balance of the menstrual cycle starts in the hypothalamus which is in the brain. When a person is physically or emotionally stressed, it affects the hormonal balance which starts in this part of the hypothalamus. This is why some women actually lose their menstrual cycle BEFORE they lose weight with anorexia.

The eating disorder is about life and how you’re coping. Please tell your MD about your habit. It may help them understand your physical symptoms better.

Brenda K. Woods, MD, FAAFP

Dear Misty,

Thanks for contacting us and asking for help. It sounds like your behaviors are causing quite a few medical problems and you need to take these seriously.

As a therapist, what most stands out to me about your question is that you seem to have pretty good insight into the fact that your chewing and spitting is related to a lot of stress in your life. What concerns me, however, is that I can’t tell from your question if you have sought any help prior to this website.

Per Dr. Woods’ recommendation above, I believe that you need medical attention as soon as possible. Your next step would then be to talk with an eating disorder specialist in a therapeutic setting. See the article “Finding Treatment.”

Your chewing and spitting habit certainly seems to be a way of coping. It likely brings you some sense of relief or escape from your problems. You’ve got to find a better way of dealing with stress, and that is going to include some form of talking openly and honestly with someone who can and wants to understand you.

What you write indicates that this problem is already an addiction and has been for sometime now. Please don’t wait any longer to get help.

Travis Stewart, LPC