Medically called pharyngitis, sore throats stem from inflammation of your pharynx otherwise known as your throat. Usually the symptoms associated with sore throat fade without medical intervention, however consulting a medical professional is a good idea if your symptoms worsen or do not resolve within a week.

Symptoms & Causes

Sore throats are often caused as a result of acid reflux. Even more commonly than acid reflux disease, bacterial or viral infections can be the root cause of many sore throats. Viral infections are usually caused by a cold or the flu. The body can usually fight off viral infections and most people return to normal within a few days. Bacterial infections can be more serious and usually require antibiotics. Bacterial infections can lead to tonsillitis and ear infections. Streptococcal infection (strep throat) is often the cause of bacterial infections and is highly contagious. The condition can cause swallowing to hurt, more sneezing or coughing than usual, runny nose, mild fever and bad breath. Other symptoms include dry throat, swollen tonsils and muffled voice. If your symptoms become too painful or last more than a week you should schedule an appointment to see your physician.

A sore throat can also be associated with a tumor or growth in the throat. This type of tumor is often associated with long-term tobacco and alcohol use and is often accompanied by pain in the ear, hoarseness and a lump in the neck. Our medical professionals work closely with local oncologists to uncover the etiology of throat tumors. To learn more about tumors please click here to be directed to our Head and Neck Cancer program page.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Our physicians will perform a physical evaluation and likely ask a few questions. You might also undergo a throat swab saliva sample to be tested for bacteria. Based on your physician’s medical opinion you may receive advice for home remedies or prescription antibiotics. Getting plenty of sleep and water is crucial to a speedy recovery. To ease the pain of a sore throat trying eating warm and thick foods like honey or soup. Also try gargling with saltwater to ease pain. Most sore throats are viral in nature and no medication is recommended. However, some sore throats stemming from bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will best know how to determine the right options for you.

Follow these lifestyle habits to help a sore throat:

  • Maintain adequate hydration by drinking at least eight (64 oz.) glasses of water each day. Juice, carbonated beverages, and other soft drinks are not substitutes for water. Try to maintain proper humidity in your home and workplace. Relative humidity of 40% or more is best for the vocal folds.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol consumption.
  • Monitor medications. Antihistamines and diuretics cause dryness.
  • Maintain an anti-reflux and heartburn regimen, if necessary. Event “silent” reflux can be damaging to the vocal folds.
  • Keep in good health, exercising regularly, but not too noisily or vigorously. Follow good nutrition guidelines and get adequate rest. Monitor your stress level. When you are run down, your voice can show it.
  • Do not smoke.

Prevention

Follow the best practices for avoiding the viruses that can cause sore throats: Washing your hands regularly, utilizing hand sanitizer and avoiding contact with people who are sick and those who smoke are all good tips for preventing sore throats.