It happens to the best of us! That painful, irritating sensation you feel in the back of your throat. It is difficult to swallow and speak. Maybe it even challenges your ability to eat and sleep. Desperate for relief, you catch yourself sucking on throat lozenges or trying a home remedy. Here are some likely causes of your sore throat:
Sore throat is usually caused by a viral infection. In fact, viruses are responsible for about 90% of all reported sore throats. The presence of other symptoms, such as fever or body aches, indicates the possibility of the presence of a virus. If the problem persists, you should probably see your doctor. This can diagnose one of the following viral infections:
- A cold
- Flu (flu)
- Mono (mononucleosis)
Bacteria can also be the cause of your sore throat. This is most common among children and adolescents, however adults are not immune to this phenomenon. A bacterial infection is usually present in the tonsils or in the throat itself. The most common bacteria that cause sore throats are:
- strep throat
- STIs (such as gonorrhea and chlamydia)
The air you breathe can irritate your throat. If the air is dry, your throat will be too, causing that itchy feeling we all know and don’t love. Other annoying particles in the air can also find their way to your throat. They can come from:
- Smoke (fire or tobacco)
- Dust and dirt
- Other chemicals
When allergens like pollen or mold trigger allergic reactions, they can cause sinus symptoms like stuffiness and runny nose. The increase in mucus causes postnasal drip. As the mucus repeatedly drains down the back of the throat, it causes irritation and pain.
Also called tonsillitis, tonsillar stones are deposits that form in the crevices of your tonsils. Food debris, dead cells, saliva, and mucus can get trapped in the tonsillar pits and build up over time. This attracts bacteria and odorous fungi. When tonsillar stones become large or increase in number, they can cause a distinct sore throat.
Ever wake up with a sore throat after a busy day at the amusement park or a music festival? Overusing your vocal cords while shouting or singing can injure your throat and cause temporary or prolonged pain. Food can also hurt your throat if it’s too hot or gets stuck.
Although uncommon, tumors of the throat, larynx, or tongue can similarly cause sore throats. If the sore throat persists for an extended period of time, you should probably see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) and get screened for cancer. Your throat doctor may also look for other accompanying symptoms such as visible lumps, difficulty swallowing, or blood in saliva.
How to treat a sore throat:
Not all sore throats require medical treatment, but some more serious symptoms indicate that prompt medical attention is essential. These include difficulty swallowing or breathing, pain or stiffness in the neck, or difficulty opening the mouth. A very high fever, earache, or sore throat that lasts a week or more are also good indicators that you need to see a doctor. However, if you don’t have any of the more severe symptoms, you can treat your sore throat at home:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- A throat spray containing a numbing antiseptic.
- Rest your voice until you have a healthy throat.
- Drink hot drinks to ease sore throats.
- Use a cool mist humidifier to moisten the air.
- Gargle with warm water and half a teaspoon of salt.
Some grandmother’s remedies to relieve your sore throat:
Coffee and lemon:
Mix two tablespoons of black coffee and one teaspoon of lemon juice. By gargling twice a day, once upon waking and once before bed, you can feel a big difference.
Lime and honey:
Squeeze a lime and add a tablespoon of organic honey and gargle the mixture all at once. You will immediately notice great relief.