What is A Sore Throat?
The sore throat is very painful and dry and it brings a very scratchy feeling in the throat. Having pain in the throat is one of the common symptoms of a sore throat. More than 13 million peoples visit the doctor’s office every year. Generally, sore throats are caused by infections or environmental factors like dry air. A sore throat can be very uncomfortable sometimes and go away on its own.
Types of Sore throats
Sore throats are basically divided into three types depending upon the part of the throat that is affected:
- Pharyngitis is a type of sore throat that affects the area right behind the mouth.
- Tonsillitis causes swelling and redness of the tonsils which is a soft tissue present in the back of the mouth.
- Laryngitis is a type of sore throat that causes swelling and redness of the larynx i.e. voice box.
Symptoms of Sore Throat
The symptoms of a sore throat depend upon what is causing it. A sore throat might feel like a sensation of:-
- irritated throat
It hurts much more when you swallow something or speak up. The throat or tonsils might appear red and swollen to you. Some people experience white patches or areas of pus over the area of tonsils. These white patches are very common in strep throat as compare to that of a sore throat which is caused by viruses.
You can also have symptoms like:
- runny nose
- nasal congestion
- hoarse voice
- body aches
- trouble swallowing
- appetite loss
- swollen glands in the neck
Some Main Causes of Sore Throats
There are ranges from infections to injuries that are responsible to cause sore throats. Here are some of the most common causes mentioned below.
- Colds, flu, and other viral infections- Viruses are the main cause of having sore throats in 90% of cases. The viruses that cause sore throats are as discussed below:-
- the common cold,
- influenza – the flu,
- mononucleosis, a disease transmitted through saliva
- mumps that causes swelling of the salivary glands,
- Strep throat- Some of the bacterial infections may also cause sore throats and one such is strep throat. It is an infection caused by a group of Streptococcus bacteria that affect the throat and tonsils. Nearly 40 percent of sore throat cases are found in children. Tonsillitis and sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia may also cause sore throat.
3. Allergies- When the immune system of our body reacts to allergy then it triggers pollen, grass, and pet dander, which releases chemicals and causes symptoms like throat irritation, sneezing, watery eyes, and nasal congestion. Sometimes the excess mucus in the nose drips down in the back of the throat. This referred to as postnasal drip which might cause irritation in the throat.
4. Dry air- Dry air sucks moisture from the mouth and throat due to which it feels dry and scratchy in the throat. Usually, the air in the winter months is dry especially when the heater is running.
5. Smoke, chemicals, and other irritants- Many chemicals and other substances present in the environment cause irritation in the throat which includes:
- air pollution
- cigarette or tobacco smoke
- other chemicals
6. Injury- An injury when you got a hit or get a cut on your neck may cause pain in your throat. Sometimes when a piece of food gets stuck in your throat may also bring irritation. Sometimes talking loudly, yelling, or singing for a long period of time also causes sore throat and neck pain.
7. Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which people experience taste like acid back from the stomach into the esophagus. Esophagus is a tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. The acid reflux causes a burning sensation in the esophagus and throat.
Home Remedies for Sore Throat
You should take enough rest in order to give your immune system a chance to fight the infection. You can get relief in the pain while having a sore throat by following the points discussed below: –
- Rest your voice,
- Cool your throat by eating ice cream or popsicle,
- Gargle using warm water and add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt in it,
- Add moisture to the air by turning on a cool-mist humidifier
- Drink warm liquids to soothe your throat, such as hot tea, coffee, warm water with lemon, etc.
We will discuss other home remedies for sore throat in brief in our next blog.
When to see a doctor
Sore throats are generally caused due to viral infection which gets better on its own within two to seven days. However, some severe sore throat needs to be treated immediately.
You need to call your doctor if you are having more serious symptoms as follows:
- sore joints
- trouble breathing
- severe sore throat
- trouble while swallowing
- difficulty opening your mouth
- painful or stiff neck
- blood in your saliva
- high fever than 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius)
Diagnosis of a Sore Throat
The doctor will ask you about the symptoms that you are facing and he will use a light to check the back of your throat. If you have redness, swelling, and white spots inside your mouth then you are having a sore throat. You could also have swollen glands at the sides of your neck. If the doctor suspects that you might have strep throat then he will run a swab over the back of your throat to collect a sample to test for strep throat bacteria. To confirm the diagnosis, he will send the sample to the lab to get results shortly. Lab test usually takes about one to two days.