A sore throat is a common ailment that mainly appears during the months of fall, winter, and spring. Its symptoms such as pain, irritation, and scratchiness of the throat, are familiar to us because rarely we can escape them during these months of the year.
What makes it difficult to escape is the fact that there are many reasons you can get a sore throat from. It can be due to flu virus, or due to the common cold. It can be a bacterial infection (streptococci) or the allergic rhinitis.
If you are lucky to have avoided them then there are more things that can afflict a sore throat in you such as mononucleosis, smoking, and tonsillitis.
There are no fixed symptoms that are indicative of a looming sore throat, or rather, they vary depending on the cause. The signs and symptoms include:
● Pain or scratchiness in the throat.
● Pain and difficulty in swallowing.
● Sore, swollen glands in your neck or jaw.
● Swollen, red tonsils.
● White patches or pus on your tonsils.
● Hoarse or muffled voice.
A sore throat caused due to a viral infection can be cured on its own. At the initial stage when one or more of the above symptoms have just started, you may wait for 2-3 days to see if they subside on their own.
However, you should visit a doctor immediately for more severe symptoms such as:
● High fever, greater than 101 degrees.
● Difficulty in breathing, swallowing or opening of mouth.
● Lump in your neck.
● Prolonged hoarseness, lasting more than two weeks.
● Blood in saliva or sputum.
● Rashes on the cheeks and on the arms, legs, and upper body.
Viral or bacterial infections are the most prevalent causes for Sore throats, as explained below:
1. Viruses - In majority of cases, viral infections cause sore throats. There can be a large number of viruses that are responsible for the common types of sore throats. A common example is Epstein-Barr virus that causes glandular fever and glandular fever tonsillitis.
2. Bacterias- Strep throat caused by streptococcal bacteria is a common cause for sore throat. Another example of bacterial infection is the sexually transmitted disease called gonorrhea which also causes sore throat.
3. Tonsillitis - Chronic tonsillitis occured due to inflammation and damage of tonsils lead to sore throat and bad breath.
4. Measles may cause sore throat under some circumstances.
5. Allergies and air pollutions can cause chronic mild throat irritation and sore throat.
6. Infectious mononucleosis can cause sore throat.
7. Fish, chicken bone, etc. can lead to throat problems and sore throat.
8. Certain surgeries such as Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy surgeries may cause sore throats.
9. Sinus drainage may result in a sore throat.
10. GERD or the Gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause sore throat symptoms such as hoarseness and lump in throat.
11. A person who is a HIV positive may develop a chronic or recurring sore throat due to a secondary infection.
12. Cancerous tumors in the throat, voice box, and tongue can cause sore throat symptoms such as hoarseness, difficulty in swallowing, lump in the throat, etc.
Treatments for the sore throat depends upon the actual cause that has lead to the condition. For example, if the sore throat is caused by the bacterial infection the doctors can prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin and amoxicillin. But the same treatment won’t work if the cause is a viral infection.
Common sore throats due to virus infections generally abate on their own within a few days. So no treatment is usually required except for comfort of the patient. Doctors sometimes suggest over-the-counter pain medicines such as Advil( ibuprofen) and Tylenol(acetaminophen) or some home remedies to reduce the pain, scatchiness, swelling, etc.
Sore throats as symptoms of other severe diseases are treated differently for the specific disease.