A sore throat refers to pain, itchiness, or irritability of the throat. You may have difficulty taking food and liquids, and the pain may get worse when you try to swallow. Throat pain is the principal symptom of a sore throat.
A sore throat (throat disease, pharyngitis) is caused when a virus (or bacteria) infects the area at the back of your throat (pharynx). This triggers redness and swelling (inflammation), and can be agonizing, especially when you swallow.
A sore throat can be the first sign of a cold, a side effect of strained vocal cords, or an indication of something more serious (like strep throat), other signs of Sore Throat Includes:
- Colds or flu – you may also have a blocked or runny nose, a cough, a high temperature (fever), a headache and general aches
- Laryngitis (inflammation of the voice box) – you may also have a hoarse voice, a dry cough and a constant need to clear your throat
- Tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils) – you may also have red or spotty tonsils, discomfort when swallowing and a fever
- Strep throat (a bacterial throat infection) – you may also have swollen glands in your neck, discomfort when swallowing and tonsillitis
- Glandular fever – you may also feel very tired and have a fever and swollen glands in your neck
Sore Throat Causes
The majority of sore throats are triggered by a viral infection. These are infections caused by a virus, such as the cold or flu.
Other types of Viral infections include:
- Mononucleosis, which is an infectious disease typically transmitted through secretion
- Measles, which is a contagious illness seen as a distinct rash and fever
- Chickenpox, which is contamination that causes skin sores
- Croup, which is an infection of the larynx
A bacterial infection can also cause a sore throat. These types of infections include:
- Strep throat, which is an inflammation of the throat caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria
- Diphtheria, which causes throat inflammation
- Whooping cough, which affects the respiratory mucous membrane
Only a few sore throats are viral or bacterial. Presently there are several other triggers of throat pain:
- Should you be allergic to mold, pet dander, pollen, or other irritants, exposure to these allergens can trigger postnasal drip. This is when excess mucus accumulates in the back of your throat. This accumulation can irritate your throat and cause pain or infection.
- Dry air can also make your throat feel raw and scratchy.
- Using tobacco or exposure to cigarette smoke can trigger continual sore throats.
- Yelling or too much talking can trigger throat strain.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also cause a sore throat. This is a digestive condition that occurs when stomach acid runs into the esophagus. This kind of condition causes a mixture of symptoms, such as:
- A sore throat
- Reflux symptoms
Treatments for a sore throat
The therapy for a sore throat will depend on the cause. However, you can treat many sore throats at home.
- Gargle with a homemade mouthwash of warm, salty water
- Drinking a lot of warm fluids, such as teas, soup, and water
- Avoiding allergens and irritants, such as smoke cigars and chemicals
- Taking esophagus lozenges
- Reducing inflammation with ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Take ibuprofen or paracetamol – paracetamol is better for children and for folks who can’t take ibuprofen (note that children under 18 should never take aspirin)
- Eat cool, soft foods
- Suck lozenges, hard sweets, ice cube or ice lollies – but don’t give young children anything small, hard to suck due to risk of choking
In the event that a bacterial infection triggers your sore throat, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics to kill the infectious creatures. You should take your medication as approved by your doctor to treat the bacterial infection. A sore throat may recur if you stop treatment early.