The Most Common Reasons For A Sore Throat

Sore ThroatA sore throat is never fun, it’s uncomfortable and impacts your day-to-day life. You can feel it coming before it fully arrives, and with dread you think—oh no, please don’t let it be a sore throat! In most cases, a sore throat persists for a short amount of time before going away on its own.

The Most Common Causes Of A Sore Throat

If you are experiencing the pains of a sore throat you want answers and relief. Finding out the cause of your sore throat will help you seek the best treatment for recovery. In most cases, a sore throat is caused by a bacterial or viral infection.

The most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection, including:

  • The common cold, which is the most common viral infection
  • Laryngitis, or infection of the voice box
  • Mononucleosis (mono)
  • Chickenpox
  • Croup
  • Other less common viral infections that can cause a sore throat: mumps, influenza and herpangina

A bacterial infection may also produce a sore throat. Common bacterial infections include:

  • Strep throat, which typically causes a sore throat without any coughing or congestion
  • Whooping cough
  • Tonsillitis, inflamed or infected tonsils
  • Peritonsillar abscess, an infection of surrounding tonsil tissues
  • Uvulitis, inflammation of the uvula
  • Certain sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. This is rare compared to other causes of sore throats.
  • Diphtheria (rare in industrialized countries)

Sore throats caused by viral and bacterial infections usually clear up relatively quickly with rest, hydration and medicine. If your sore throat does not go away within a week there might be an underlying injury, illness or irritant to blame, such as:

  • Poor air quality caused by low humidity, air pollution, or smoke
  • Muscle strain from excessive yelling
  • Postnasal drip, nasal drainage in the back of your throat
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or a backup of stomach acids reaching the inner lining of your throat. The most prominent symptom of GERD is heartburn, but in some cases the only symptom is a sore throat.
  • An injury located on the back of the throat
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • HIV infection is known to cause a sore throat, as well as other flu-like symptoms, when first contracted
  • Tumors in the throat

Who Is At Risk For Developing A Sore Throat?

Anyone can get a sore throat, and everyone has a sore throat at some point in life. Some populations are at a greater risk for a sore throat than others. Your chances for developing a sore throat increase if:

  • You are a child or a teenager; in fact children are the most likely to develop strep throat.
  • Regular exposure to tobacco smoke greatly irritates the throat, and Tabaco also increases your risk for cancer of the mouth, throat and voice box.
  • You are prone to allergies.
  • You are exposed to chemical irritants including burning fossil fuels or harsh household cleaning products.
  • You are prone to chronic sinus infections, as nasal drip can irritate the throat.
  • You have a lowered immune system for any reason.
  • Your risk for exposure is high, for instance you work in a classroom or are exposed to large groups of people on a regular basis.

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Treatment Options To Soothe Your Sore Throat

The cause of your sore throat will impact the proper treatment methods. Most sore throats are caused by a viral infection, in which case an antibiotic will not help treat the infection and can actually create a host of negative side effects.  If the cause of your sore throat is bacterial, you will need an antibiotic in order to help fight off the infection.

You can also use these at home remedies to help soothe a sore throat:

  • Drink plenty of water, eat soft foods and get plenty of rest
  • Numb your throat with lozenges, ice and popsicles
  • Mix 1 teaspoon of table salt with 8 ounces of warm drinking water and gargle
  • Take pain reducers, such as ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Tylenol, etc. Children and teens with flu-like symptoms should avoid taking Aspirin, as in rare cases it has been linked to the development of Reye’s syndrome.

When To Visit Your Doctor For A Sore Throat

If your sore throat persists or does not seem to be getting better you should visit a doctor. At your appointment, a doctor will look at your throat, ears and nasal passageways for signs of obvious issues. He or she will also feel your lymph nodes and listen to your breathing pattern with a stethoscope. A throat swab is often taken and analyzed in order to determine if there is any bacteria present, such as streptococcal. This will help determine if you have a viral or bacterial infection. Other tests commonly given for sore throats include a complete blood count (CBC), and/or an allergy test.

Visit Urgent Medical Center today to find relief from your sore throat!

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