A sore throat is an uncomfortable and scratchy sensation in your throat. There are various types of sore throats – from pharyngitis to tonsillitis, and laryngitis. Each type is named for the specific area of the throat they impact. If you experience sore throat, use a symptom checker online, and decide whether or not you need to visit a doctor.
Throat pain ranks among the top symptoms for doctor visits, making up over 2% of appointments annually.
When it comes to reasons for sore throats, stemming from infections or environmental factors such as dry air are some of the common causes. Although a sore throat can be bothersome, it can be treated without the need for intervention.
However, if you’re having the issue for a long time, use an online symptom checker for multiple symptoms to see when to visit a doctor.
Types of Sore Throat
It can be categorized into three parts:
- Pharyngitis: It leads to throat inflammation and discomfort.
- Tonsillitis: It is swelling and redness in the tonsils, which is the soft tissue found at the rear of the mouth.
- Laryngitis: It results in swelling and redness of the voice box, known as the larynx.
Symptoms of Sore Throat
Generally, the sore throat symptoms depend on its type. However, you may feel:
- Scratchy throat
- Burning sensation
- Dry throat
When these symptoms start worsening, you may experience an increase in discomfort and difficulty in swallowing or speaking.
Apart from that, your throat or tonsils may exhibit a reddish appearance.
Occasionally, you may notice the development of white patches or regions with pus on your tonsils. These white patches are more frequently associated with strep throat rather than a viral sore throat.
In many cases, sore throat comes with symptoms like:
- Nasal congestion
Note: If you experience one or many of these symptoms with sore throat, use a symptom checker online to know when to see a doctor.
Cause of Sore Throat
Sore throats can be a result of many factors – from infections to injuries. Below are some of the most common causes:
- Viral Infections
Sore throats often result from viral infections, including the common cold, influenza (the flu), COVID-19, mononucleosis, measles, chickenpox, and mumps.
- Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections, such as strep throat caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, are another common sore throat trigger. In children, strep throat accounts for nearly 20-30% of cases.
When the immune system reacts to allergens like pollen, grass, and pet dander, it can lead to throat irritation due to postnasal drip caused by excess mucus.
- Dry Air
Dry air, especially prevalent in the winter when heaters are running, can parch the mouth and throat, resulting in a dry and scratchy sensation.
Various environmental substances like smoke (including tobacco smoke), air pollution, cleaning products, and aerosolized sprays can irritate the throat.
Certain injuries and incidents, like getting food stuck in the throat or straining vocal cords from yelling or singing, can cause throat pain.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can lead to acid from the stomach flowing back into the esophagus and throat, causing heartburn, acid reflux, and a sore throat.
Although less common, tumors in the throat, voice box, or tongue can also result in a sore throat. When a sore throat persists beyond a few days, it may signal a more serious issue such as cancer.
How To Treat Sore Throat
You can effectively manage most sore throats from the comfort of your home. Take ample rest to improve your immune system’s ability to deal with the infection.
If the symptoms become difficult to manage or they are more severe than ever, it’s time to see a doctor. Use a symptom checker online to understand your symptoms and learn what’s the right time to pay a visit to a physician.
Get well soon, and have a healthy life!