A sore throat is one of the most commonly reported symptoms at doctor’s appointments, accounting for more than 13 million doctor’s visits each year. There are three types of sore throat, depending on what part of the throat is affected: pharyngitis affects the area right behind the mouth; tonsillitis is swelling and redness of the tonsils; and laryngitis is irritation of the voice box (larynx).
To get relief for your sore throat, it’s important to identify the underlying cause. There are many possible sources of a sore throat.
Viruses account for about 90 percent of sore throats. Common viruses include:
- The common cold
- Mononucleosis (infectious disease transmitted through saliva)
- Measles (causes rash and fever)
- Chickenpox (causes fever and bumpy rash)
- Mumps (leads to swelling of the salivary glands in the neck)
Strep throat, as well as other bacterial infections, can also cause a sore throat. Strep is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria and causes nearly 40 percent of sore throat cases in children.
Other bacterial infections that can cause sore throat include tonsillitis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Allergies occur when the immune system responds to exposure to an allergen, triggering the release of histamines and causing nasal congestion, watery eyes, sneezing and sore throat. Excess mucus caused by allergies can drip down the back of the throat – called postnasal drip – which can cause further irritation.
If there’s a change in weather or you travel to a dry climate, the dry air can suck moisture from the mouth and nose, leaving them dry and scratchy. This can lead to dry lips and a sore throat.
Smoke and Chemical Irritants
In addition to dry air, other environmental irritants can cause a sore throat. Common culprits include tobacco smoke, air pollution, cleaning products and other chemicals.
One illustrative example is after 9/11, more than 62% of responding firefighters reported sore throats compared to 3.2% before the disaster.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD is a condition wherein acid from the stomach backs into the esophagus and throat, causing heartburn and sore throat.
For more information or to schedule an evaluation for a sore throat, call the experts at CENTA Medical Group today.