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The basic thing to understand is that a sore throat is a symptom, not a disease. There are quite a lot of medical disorders that sore throats represents. Common causes of a sore throats are viral and bacterial infections... Sore throats can also be caused by post nasal drip, low humidity, smoking and excessive usage of the voice. Sore throats caused by bacteria may be treated with antibiotics but those caused by viruses cannot.
Here are some disorders or sicknesses that a sore throat may represent:
As mentioned above, a sore throat is a symptom and not a disease... When your throat is sore, pain is felt when swallowing in the area of the neck. This is often because of swollen tender glands in the neck.
It is always advisable to visit a physician if pain increases. If you can see redness in the uvula when your mouth is wide open, visit your doctor as soon as possible for a check up. Do not use antibiotics since they are unhelpful for sore throats.
Although rare... sore throats may result in rheumatic heart disease and ear infections if left untreated.
Causes of sore throats can be classified as follows:
Viruses are extremely contagious and spread quickly in winter season. Viral sore throats often follow or accompany flu or colds. They are generally represented by a stuffy and runny nose, constant sneezing, and general aches and pain in the neck and nose area. Your body develops antibodies that fight these viruses but if they multiply your body may find it hard to fight them off because it take about a week for your body to fight off one virus.
There are several other viral infections that are accompanied by a sore throat. These include infections such as chicken pox, whooping cough, measles, tonsillitis, croup etc. Sore throats can even impair your hearing and cause pain around your shoulders and armpits.
One type of virus that is famous of causing sore throats is infectious mononucleosis, usually known as mono. This virus may also create serious breathing difficulties, because it inhabits the lymph system, causing the tonsils to swell and develop painful white patches on their surface. If untreated, infectious mononucleosis may even affect the liver, as well as causing fatigue that can last for about six weeks or more.
Mononucleosis is often detected in teenagers and had been called "kissing disease" because it is mainly transmitted by saliva exchanging. Mono can also be transmitted by sharing utensils.
There are several allergens such as pollen, molds and dust mites that irritate the throat if inhaled. To avoid allergic reactions, you need to reduce your exposure to environmental allergens. Although molds and pollen cannot be eliminated, they can be reduced.
Animal hair, cat and dog dander, as well as cockroaches and other insects are other allergens that may worsen the severity of your throat condition.
Mouth-breathing is one of the common irritants to your throat. Most people breathe through their mouth when their nose is blocked or congested. When your cilia stop functioning, mucus dries up blocking air from entering your trachea. The only option you have is to breath through your mouth to ensure that your lungs take and expel enough air. This causes your throat to dry up.
Chemicals and cigarette smoke are air pollutants that may irritate both your nose and throat. Other irritants include the following:
- Exaggerated humidification of bedroom air
- Alcohol consumption
- Ice drinks in winter
- Spicy foods
- Dry heat in winter
Shouting and excessive voice usage can roughly strain the neck muscles and throat membranes causing sore throats. That's the reason singers and public speakers get proper training so that they do not abuse their throats.
There is a particular strain of bacteria known as streptococcus that causes a sore throat named strep throat. You can use antibiotics to treat a strep throat. If untreated a strep throat can cause quite a few complications such as:
- Rheumatic fever (damaged heart valves)
- Nephritis (damaged kidneys)
- Tonsillitis (infection of the lumpy tissues on each side of the back of the throat)
- Scarlet fever
- Otitis Media
Mucus is a perfect medium for bacteria. Infected mucus that drains from the nose down the back of your throat may causing a sore throat. That's why post nasal drip is always accompanied by a sore throat.
Other causes of sore throats include reflux (regurgitation of stomach acids up into the back of the throat), tumors (tissue growths) and tonsillitis.