Sore throat – Symptoms and causes

Overview Pain and irritation felt when one is swallowing something are referred to as a sore throat. The main cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. If the  sore throat  is caused by a virus it heals itself Strep throat (streptococcal infection), a less common […]

Sore Throat: Treatment, Causes, Diagnosis, Symptoms & More

Overview

Pain and irritation felt when one is swallowing something are referred to as a sore throat. The main cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. If the  sore throat  is caused by a virus it heals itself

Strep throat (streptococcal infection), a less common type of sore throat caused by bacteria, requires treatment with antibiotics to prevent complications. Other less common causes of the sore throat might require more complex treatment.

Symptoms

Sore throat: how to get rid of it faster - Tua Saúde

Sore throat symptoms depend on the cause. This include:

  • Pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat
  • Pain that worsens with swallowing or talking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sore, swollen glands in your neck or jaw
  • Swollen, red tonsils
  • White patches or pus on your tonsils
  • A hoarse or muffled voice

Infections causing a sore throat might result in some other signs and symptoms may result from infections causing sore throats, this includes:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

When to see a doctor

Get the doctors advice if you have severe signs and symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unusual drooling, which might indicate an inability to swallow

Seek medical attention if  you have a sore throat and any of the following associated problems, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery:

  • A sore throat that is severe or lasts longer than a week
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Joint pain
  • Earache
  • Rash
  • Fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C)
  • Blood in your saliva or phlegm
  • Frequently recurring sore throats
  • A lump in your neck
  • Hoarseness lasting more than two weeks
  • Swelling in your neck or face

Causes

Sore throat: Causes, symptoms, and when to see a doctor

Viruses that cause the common cold and the flu also cause most sore throats. Less often, bacterial infections cause sore throats.

Viral infections

Viral illnesses that cause a sore throat include:

  • Common cold
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Mono (mononucleosis)
  • Measles
  • Chickenpox
  • Croup — a common childhood illness characterized by a harsh, barking cough

Bacterial infections

Several bacterial infections can cause a sore throat. The most common is Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) which causes strep throat.

Other causes

Other causes of a sore throat include:

  • Allergies to pet dander, molds, dust, and pollen can cause a sore throat. The problem may be complicated by postnasal drip, which can irritate and inflame the throat.
  • Dryness Dry indoor air can make your throat feel rough and scratchy. Breathing through your mouth often because of chronic nasal congestion — also can cause a dry, sore throat.
  • Irritants outdoor air pollution and indoor pollution such as tobacco smoke or chemicals can cause a chronic sore throat. Chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol, and eating spicy foods also can irritate your throat.
  • Muscle strain you can strain muscles in your throat by yelling, talking loudly, or talking for long periods without rest.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) GERD is a digestive system disorder in which stomach acids back up in the food pipe (esophagus). Other signs or symptoms may include heartburn, hoarseness, regurgitation of stomach contents, and the sensation of a lump in your throat.
  • HIV infection  a sore throat and other flu-like symptoms sometimes appear early after someone is infected with HIV. Also, someone who is HIV-positive might have a chronic or recurring sore throat due to a fungal infection called oral thrush or due to a viral infection called cytomegalovirus (CMV), which can be serious in people with compromised immune systems.
  • Tumors cancerous tumors of the throat, tongue, or voice box (larynx) can cause a sore throat. Other signs or symptoms may include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, noisy breathing, a lump in the neck, and blood in saliva or phlegm.

Rarely, an infected area of tissue (abscess) in the throat or swelling of the small cartilage “lid” that covers the windpipe (epiglottitis) can cause a sore throat. Both can block the airway, creating a medical emergency.

Risk factors

Some of the factors that make one prone to getting sore throat are;

  • Age children and teens are most likely to develop sore throats. Children ages 3 to 15 are also more likely to have strep throat, the most common bacterial infection associated with a sore throat.
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke smoking and secondhand smoke can irritate the throat. The use of tobacco products also increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, and voice box.
  • Allergies seasonal allergies or ongoing allergic reactions to dust, molds, or pet dander make developing a sore throat more likely.
  • Exposure to chemical irritants particles in the air from burning fossil fuels and common household chemicals can cause throat irritation.
  • Chronic or frequent sinus infections drainage from your nose can irritate your throat or spread infection.
  • Close quarters viral and bacterial infections spread easily anywhere people gather, whether in child care centers, classrooms, offices, or airplanes.
  • Weakened immunity you’re more susceptible to infections in general if your resistance is low. Common causes of lowered immunity include HIV, diabetes, treatment with steroids or chemotherapy drugs, stress, fatigue, and poor diet.

Prevention

To prevent sore throats avoid the germs that cause them and practice good hygiene. Some practices include;

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after using the toilet, before eating, and after sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid sharing food, drinking glasses, or utensils.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away. When necessary, sneeze into your elbow.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as an alternative to washing hands when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Avoid touching public phones or drinking fountains with your mouth.
  • Regularly clean telephones, TV remotes, and computer keyboards with sanitizing cleanser. When you travel, clean phones and remotes in your hotel room.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

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