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Sore Throats

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Sore throats can be an indication for an infection, bacterial or viral in nature, leading to painful swallowing and difficulty swallowing.   Additional issues may include allergies and sinus infections with post nasal drainage that can cause a sore throat. There may be an indication of evaluation by an Otolaryngologist for a sore throat lasting longer than five to seven days.  Hydration is still important, with salt water gargles, and OTC pain medications.   Appropriate antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment may be added.

Causes:

  • Viral infections may include the flu, colds, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, or croup.   Another type of viral infection may include mononucleosis (Epstein Barr Virus), with associated massive enlargement of the tonsils, with white plaques on the tonsillar surface.   There may also be some associated soreness and lymph node enlargement in the armpits, groin, with fever, chills, and headache.

  • Bacterial infections commonly include Strep throat that has potential to damage the heart valves (rheumatic fever) and kidneys (nephritis), scarlet fever, pneumonia, sinusitis, and ear infections if left untreated.

    • Epiglottitis, infection/swelling of a portion of the larynx (voice box), leading to closing of the airway and choking sensation.   This is more emergent in nature, and should be evaluated with a nasolaryngoscopy (small lighted telescope that easily slips in the nose and down the throat to view the voice box) for appropriate management, including IV antibiotics or airway control in the hospital.

    • Tonsillitis is the general inflammation and infection of the pharyngeal tonsils, those glands in the back of the throat on either side of the uvular (punching bag in the throat).   With chronic recurrent or persistent infections, despite medical/antibiotic therapies, it is likely that the tonsils need to be removed by a procedure known as a tonsillectomy (typically an outpatient procedure).

  • Reflux, or contents from the stomach and esophagus regurgitates up into the throat, may cause throat irritation and pain, typically when in a reclined position.

  • Tumors of the throat, tongue, and larynx (voice box) can also cause a sore throat, sometimes with referred pains to the ear.   There can be associated hoarseness, lump sensation in the neck, weight loss, or spitting up blood in the mucous.