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Sore Throat

 

A sore throat refers to pain, irritation or itchiness of the throat. It can occur as a result of viral infections such as a cold, or stem from an underlying medical condition. Sore throats can affect your ability to eat and swallow food.

 

 

Causes
There are a range of reasons for experiencing a sore throat. It is most commonly caused by viral infections such as the cold, influenza, measles or chickenpox, or by bacterial infections, such as Streptococcal bacteria.

 

Environmental factors can also trigger sore throats. Common environmental factors include:

  • Allergies to mould or pollen can cause a build-up of mucus at the back of your throat leading to pain and inflammation,
  • Smoking,
  • Yelling or too much talking.

 

Another cause of sore throats is gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). GORD is a digestive condition where stomach acid backflows into the oesophagus, resulting in a sore throat. In rare cases, a sore throat may be a sign of throat cancer.

 

 

Symptoms
Common symptoms of a sore throat include:

  • Pain and inflammation in the throat,
  • A dry, irritating feeling,
  • Coughing,
  • Difficulty swallowing food,
  • Hoarseness or laryngitis,
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, 
  • A runny nose or fever may accompany a sore throat.

 

 

Diagnosis
If you have a persistent sore throat, it may be beneficial to see your local doctor for advice. Your doctor will feel your neck for swollen lymph nodes and listen to your breathing. In the event of a bacterial infection your doctor will look for signs of inflammation and take a swab sample to test for Streptococcal bacteria. Referral to a throat specialist from your doctor may help to determine whether allergens or a throat disorder is responsible for a sore throat.

 

 

Management
Treatment for a sore throat is dependent on the cause. Many people treat their sore throat with home remedies such as gargling salt water or drinking warm fluids. If you have a bacterial infection you will need to see your doctor for treatment options.

 

To prevent sore throat infections:

  • Ensure good hand hygiene,
  • Avoid sharing utensils or drinking glasses,
  • Minimise exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust or mould 
  • Avoid cigarette smoke.

 

 

Disclaimer
The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.

 

Sources

Healthline
http://www.healthline.com/health/sore-throat#Complications5

MedicineNet
http://www.onhealth.com/sore_throat/article.htm