What is a Sore Throat?
A sore throat, also called pharyngitis, is characterized by pain, irritation or scratchiness of the throat that may be worse when you try swallowing. Viral infection is the most common cause of sore throat, usually associated with a cold or flu. These sore throats tend to go away on their own.
A less common type of sore throat is streptococcal infection (“strep throat”). Strep throat is caused by bacteria and requires treatment antibiotics to avoid complications. A sore throat caused by anything other than a virus, including allergies, gastrointestinal reflux disease or tumors, may require more complex medical treatment.
Risk Factors for Sore Throat
There are certain risk factors that can make people more prone to developing a sore throat. These include:
- Age. Children and teenagers face the highest risk for sore throat, including a high risk for strep throat.
- Smoking. Both smoking and secondhand smoking can cause irritation in the throat and also increase the risk for cancers of the mouth, throat and voice box.
- Allergies. Ongoing seasonal allergies or allergies to molds, dust or pet dander can increase the risk for sore throat.
- Frequent sinus infection. The postnasal drip associated with sinus infection can cause irritation in the throat or spread infection.
- Being exposed to chemical irritants. Particles in the air from burning fossil fuels and common household chemicals can cause throat irritation.
- Being in close proximity to others. Bacterial and viral infections both spread more easily when people are in close quarters for extended periods of time – such as at work, in school or on airplanes.
- Low immunity. If you have a condition that lowers your overall immunity levels, such as diabetes or HIV, you are more likely to develop a sore throat.
Symptoms of Sore Throat
The signs and symptoms of a sore throat can vary based on the cause. They may include:
- A scratchy sensation or pain in the throat
- Pain that gets worse when talking or swallowing
- Trouble swallowing
- Swollen and sore glands in the neck or jaw
- Swollen, red tonsils
- A muffled voice that sounds hoarse
- White patches or pus on the tonsils
If the sore throat is caused by an infection, the signs and symptoms could include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Aches all over the body
- Runny nose
Sore Throat Treatment at Adena Health System
A sore throat that persists for more than a few days may require medical attention. For more information about treating sore throats and other primary care services, request an appointment with one of Adena’s board-certified primary care physicians.
Primary care physicians are trained to look at you holistically and determine the root of your health problems. If you are having a health problem, they will order tests and consultations, if needed, with an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist. In a day and age when personal connections with healthcare providers continue to become more challenging, Adena primary care physicians are taking steps to increase your access to them and in turn for you to receive the most personal care possible.
Need help finding a Primary Care Provider? Search Adena Health System online or call 740-779-FIND (3463).