Doctor's Notes on Sore Throat
Sore throat describes irritation of the structures of the throat, including the pharynx (the area of the throat behind the soft palate of the mouth), the tonsils, the larynx (the top part of the windpipe, or trachea), and rarely, the epiglottis (a flap in the throat that keeps food from going into the lungs). Causes of sore throats include viral or bacterial infections, smoking, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), post-nasal drip, oral thrush, breathing through the mouth, or serious illness such as some cancers or AIDS.
Depending on the cause, symptoms that may accompany a sore throat include
- feeling unwell (malaise),
- pain with swallowing,
- hoarse voice,
- runny nose,
- pus on the surface of the tonsils,
- throat redness,
- tender and swollen lymph nodes in the neck,
- drooling or spitting (as swallowing becomes too painful),
- difficulty breathing, or
- vesicles (bubbles of fluid on a red base) in the mouth or throat.
What is the Treatment for a Sore Throat?
For either type of sore throat, there are home remedies that can help ease symptoms. Useful home remedies for a sore throat include:
- Lozenges and cough drops to help relieve dryness (do not give lozenges or cough drops to young children as they may be a choking hazard)
- Anesthetic throat sprays to help with pain relief
- Tea with honey and lemon can be soothing
- Drinking cold beverages or eating frozen desserts such as ice cream
- Gargling with salt water can help clear the throat and loosen mucus
- Drinking plenty of fluids helps you stay hydrated and thins mucus secretions
- Using a humidifier can help keep the mouth and throat moist and reduce irritation
- Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help ease pain and inflammation caused by a sore throat
- Over-the-counter decongestants help shrink mucus membranes and relieve a runny nose or postnasal drip, which can irritate the throat
Cold & Flu : Influenza vs. Common Cold QuizQuestion
Which illness is known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection?See Answer
Must Read Articles:
AntibioticsAntibiotics are prescribed to individuals to cure disease by killing bacteria. There are over 100 antibiotics. The main classes of antibiotics include penicillins, cephalosporins, macrolides, flouroquinolones, sulfonamides, tetracyclines, and aminoglycosides. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem due to the overprescription of antibiotics to individuals. Allergic reactions to antibiotics commonly have the following symptoms shortness of breath, rash, hives, itching, swelling of the lips, face, or tongue, and fainting.
Chronic and Acute CoughsA cough is a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. A chronic or persistent cough may signal certain lung conditions that should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. Common causes of coughs include infection, allergies, lung disease, medications, and GERD (reflux). Acute coughs are categorized as infectious or non-infectious. Chronic cough (persistent cough) have a variety of causes and should be evaluated by physician. Treatment of cough, acute cough, chronic or persistent cough depends on the cause of the cough.
Common ColdThe cold is the most commonly occurring illness in the entire world, with more than 1 billion colds per year reported in the United States alone. Symptoms and signs include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, sneezing, and runny nose. Treatment involves drinking plenty of fluids and taking cough, fever, and pain medications.
EpiglottitisEpiglottitis a medical emergency and death may result if not treated promptly. Causes of epiglottitis include infectious, traumatic, and chemical agents. Symptoms of epiglottitis include: trouble breathing, drooling, taking rapid forward breaths, leaning forward to breathe, trouble speaking, and a high pitched whistling sound when taking a breath. If a person has epiglottits he or she should seek medical care emergently.
Fever (in Adults)A fever is a body temperature of 100.4 F or greater. A fever may be caused by a virus, bacteria, fungus, blood clot, tumor, drug, or the environment. Treatment of fever in adults usually involves ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin.
Fever in ChildrenFever is defined as a rectal temperature over 100.4 F or 38 C. Fever isn't life-threatening unless it is persistently high - greater than a 107 F rectal temperature. Fever is usually caused by an infection. Treatment focuses on controlling the temperature, preventing dehydration, and monitoring for serious illness.
Infectious MononucleosisInfectious mononucleosis is an infection most frequently caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands. Treatment incorporates plenty of rest, fluids, and taking over-the-counter medications. It is recommended to avoid strenuous exercise for at least one month after the onset of symptoms to avoid rupturing the spleen.
Influenza (Flu) in AdultsFlu (influenza) is an acute infection of the nose and throat airways. This infection may spread to the lungs. Flu is the most frequent cause of acute respiratory infection in people of all ages. Symptoms of the flu include fever, severe aches and pains, headache, dry cough, sore throat, and at times vomiting and nausea. Treatment for the flu includes home remedies such as OTC pain relievers, rest, and hydration. Medical treatment for the flu includes antiviral medications.
Is Sore Throat (Pharyngitis) Contagious?Sore throat caused by a viral or bacterial infection is contagious. Other cases of sore throat caused by smoking, allergies or environmental irritants are not contagious.
Is Sore Throat A Symptom Of COVID-19?COVID-19, a coronavirus disease not previously identified in humans, is responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness that has become a global pandemic. Sore throat is one of a number of possible symptoms of the disease, but it isn't as common as fever, cough and shortness of breath -- the three most prevalent COVID-19 symptoms.
LaryngitisLaryngitis means inflammation or swelling of the voice box (larynx). Laryngitis can be caused by overusing the voice, bacterial or fungal, infections, or infections like TB or syphilis. Laryngitis is contagious if it is caused by viral or bacterial infections. Common symptoms of laryngitis include hoarseness, a feeling of tickling in the throat, fever, cough, congestion, or clearing the throat often. Some home remedies may be effective for treating laryngitis. If laryngitis does not resolve after a couple of weeks, medical care should be sought.
Peritonsillar AbscessA peritonsillar abscess is a collection of infected fluid and pus in the throat next to one of the tonsils. Symptoms are pain, swelling, diffiulty breathing, speaking, and swallowing. This condition can be caused by strep throat, dental infection or other infection. Doctors may treat the abscess by draining it and administering antibiotics.
Strep ThroatStrep throat is a disease caused by infection with streptococcal bacteria. Strep throat is contagious. Strep throat symptoms include fever, pain, redness, and swelling of the throat and tonsils, swollen lymph nodes, white or yellow patches on the back of the throat. Treatment for strep throat includes home remedies to sooth symptoms such as throat lozenges, OTC medications, herbal teas to sooth the throat, and hydration. Medical treatment for strep throat includes antibiotics to prevent complications.
Swollen Lymph NodesLymph nodes (part of the lymphatic system) may signal infection if they are swollen. Types of conditions that involve swollen lymph nodes include: infection, virus, inflammation, or cancers. Symptoms of swollen lymph nodes depend upon the location. Treatment of swollen lymph nodes also depends upon the location and reason for the enlargement.
TonsillitisTonsillitis is an inflammation of the glands of the throat, which results in a sore throat. Tonsillitis is either viral or bacterial. Tonsillitis is contagious. Symptoms of tonsillitis include sore throat, fever, pain when swallowing, headache, nausea, vomiting, cough, runny nose, hoarseness, ear pain, and redness of the eyes. Tonsillitis can be treated with antibiotics. Sometimes it is necessary to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy).
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.