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Sore Throat

Sore Throat Facts

Sore throats are usually named for the anatomical site affected.

  • Pharyngitis: The pharynx, the area of the throat directly behind the mouth and soft palate, is a common passageway for food, liquids, and air. Swallowing safely delivers solids and liquids to the stomach through the esophagus. Pharyngitis is pain and inflammation of the pharynx.
  • Tonsillitis: Tonsillitis typically involves inflammation of the tonsils (tonsils are located on either side of the base of the tongue).
  • Laryngitis: The larynx, the top portion of your windpipe (trachea), has an important gatekeeper function. It allows passage of air in and out of the lungs (through the trachea), but inhibits the entry of solids and liquids. Sound production at the vocal cords is an important side job of the larynx. Laryngitis is pain and inflammation of the larynx (often associated with a hoarse voice). Croup is a form of laryngitis in children (it tends to be associated with a seal barking-like cough and difficulty inhaling air).
  • Epiglottitis: Epiglottitis is a rare type of sore throat is inflammation of the epiglottis (a tall semitubular structure at the opening to the larynx separating it from the base of the tongue). This type of sore throat problem is most common in younger individuals, and is an emergency because the airway may quickly become blocked.

10 Causes of Sore Throat

A sore throat can have many causes including:

  • Common viruses, including the viruses that cause mononucleosis (mono) and the flu. Some viruses can also produce blisters in the mouth and throat ("aphthous stomatitis").
  • Infection of the tonsils or adenoids.
  • Breathing through the mouth or smoking can produce throat dryness and soreness.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) while lying down or sleeping.
  • Sinus drainage (post-nasal drip) from allergic or chronic sinusitis.
  • Bacterial infections. The two most common bacteria to cause a sore throat are Streptococcus (which causes strep throat) and Arcanobacterium haemolyticum. Arcanobacterium causes sore throats mainly in young adults and is sometimes associated with a fine red rash.
  • Sore throat appearing after treatment with antibiotics, chemotherapy, or other immune-compromising medications may be due to the yeast Candida, commonly known as "thrush."
  • A sore throat lasting for more than two weeks can be a sign of a serious illness, such as throat cancer or AIDS.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/16/2016

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Sore Throat Home Remedies

What Causes a Sore Throat?

You can have a sore throat for many reasons. Often, colds and flu cause sore throats. Other causes can include:

  • Allergies
  • Mononucleosis
  • Smoking
  • Strep throat
  • Tonsillitis - an infection in the tonsils

Home remedy treatments for sore throats

Treatment depends on the cause. Some home remedies that may ease the pain of a sore throat include:

  • suck on lozenges, ice chips (do not give lozenges to young children),
  • sore throat sprays
  • drink lots of liquids,
  • gargling may ease the pain,
  • get plenty of rest,
  • use a clean humidifier or mist vaporizer,
  • avoid smoking, secondhand and thirdhand smoke, and
  • take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (never give aspirin to children),

SOURCE: Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work. Sore Throat.

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