What is Causing Your Sore Throat?

An Insider Look Into Soar Throats for Pain Patients

A sore throat is one of the most common ailments that causes people to visit the doctor. The symptoms can come on suddenly or persist for weeks or months. In some cases, the soreness will dissipate, only to recur soon afterwards. The cause of a sore throat is not always clear, and if you have persistent or severe symptoms, it may be time to visit your doctor. Listed below are common causes that may be responsible for your sore throat.

Colds. Viruses such as the common cold can cause upper respiratory infections and usually cause a sore throat. An irritated throat and nasal congestion are the initial symptoms you will experience; other symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and a runny nose can surface later on. Sometimes these viruses target the throat, and this can lead to burning ulcers on the lining located next to the tonsils. Even if the virus is not targeting the throat, it can still cause irritation from coughing. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and getting plenty of rest and fluids should help ease the pain, and the symptoms should clear up in a few days.

Flu. Sore throats are not the trademark symptom with the influenza virus, but it can still occur with the flu. Unlike a cold which has a gradual onset, the pain in your throat associated with the flu tends to be more sudden and severe. If you think you may have the flu, talk to your doctor.

Bacterial Infection. Strep throat or tonsillitis are a few bacterial infections that can cause a severe sore throat. The infection does not cause sneezing or congestion, but it does cause rapid, severe pain in the throat with swallowing. You may also experience a fever, bad breath, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

If the symptoms are severe and your fever runs higher than 101 degrees, be sure to seek medical attention. The doctor might notice pus on the back of your tonsils upon examination, and a diagnosis can be confirmed with a rapid strep test. If the test is positive, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics, and the pain should begin to subside after 48 to 72 hours.

Mononucleosis. Mononucleosis, more commonly known as mono, is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and is transmitted through saliva. Mono is not always easy to diagnose because it can come on suddenly or gradually. Symptoms include sore throat, fever, extreme fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits. These symptoms can fluctuate and can last anywhere from several weeks to months. Mono and strep throat have similar symptoms, so be sure to ask your doctor for a throat test to confirm a diagnosis. There is no treatment for mono, but if you are having significant pain with your throat, your doctor might prescribe a steroid to reduce inflammation and make swallowing easier.

Allergies. Allergies known as “hay fever” can cause sneezing, runny nose and throat irritation after inhaling allergens such as pollen and dust. Usually, rather than pain, there will be a scratching or tickling sensation that tends to to worsen during allergy season. Throat irritation, itching mouth and cramping can also be caused by certain foods. Food allergies can arise at any age, so you may want to ask your doctor about an allergy test if you notice these symptoms following a meal.

Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR). LPR is similar to the condition gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), except that it affects the throat. With LPR, digestive juices make their way up through the stomach and into the voice box, where they irritate the tissue. This can result in a sore throat or a hoarse voice, especially in the morning. You might also experience a dry cough or a feeling that you have a lump in your throat. Your doctor may have to check the pH level in your throat to see if there are digestive enzymes present. You might be treated with antacids, and you can further reduce the effects of LPR by avoiding alcohol and spicy foods.

Muscle Strain. Using your throat muscles the wrong way can cause you to experience throat pain. It is more common among people that begin a job that requires them to speak differently. Individuals who must use their voices frequently, like teachers, are more likely to strain their throat muscles and develop chronic pain. This is usually diagnosed by a vocologist, but your doctor will want to rule out other potential causes of your pain before coming to that conclusion. Voice therapy can usually treat the issue.

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