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Sore Throat: Causes Symptoms and Treatment

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-07-19 (Revised/Updated 2016-06-13) - A sore throat is a disease primarily located in the area around the tonsils it is also known as pharyngitis or tonsillitis - Nikhil Jain.

Main Document

Quote: "The most important difference between a virus and bacteria is that bacteria respond well to antibiotic treatment and viruses do not."

A sore throat is also known as pharyngitis or tonsillitis. The pharynx is the part of the throat that lies between the mouth and the larynx or voice box. It is associated most commonly with the common cold or influenza. While most sore throats heal without complications, in some cases, they develop into a serious illness.

Pharyngitis is a painful inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the pharynx, and is referred to as a sore throat. Infection of the tonsils, tonsillitis may occur simultaneously .

A "sore" throat is discomfort, pain, or scratchiness in the throat. A sore throat often makes it painful to swallow.

Sore throats are common, especially in children. Most of the time the soreness is worse in the morning and improves as the day progresses.

Uncomplicated sore throats usually last up to 3 days and a severe sore throat, that lasts over 3 days could be a symptom of a more serious condition like tonsillitis or laryngitis.

Causes for Sore Throat:

Sore throats are normally caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. The most important difference between a virus and bacteria is that bacteria respond well to antibiotic treatment and viruses do not.

A sore throat is commonly spread by: sharing drinks, kissing, coughing, nose blowing, and sneezing.

Common Causes:

Bacterial infection:

Strep throat is the most common bacterial infection. It is mainly caused by streptococcal bacteria. Strep throat can lead to rheumatic fever which can trigger heart valve problems or inflammation of the kidney.

Other bacteria can cause sore throats - e.g. gonorrhea is an example of a sexually transmitted infection.


The majority of sore throats are due to an infection with a virus; there is a large variety of viruses which cause the common types of sore throats. A well-known virus is the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever and glandular fever tonsillitis.


It is an inflammation of the tonsils. Chronic tonsillitis occurs when there is so much damage to the tonsils. In this condition, the throat is sore most of the time, often accompanied by bad breath.

Glandular fever and tonsillitis:

Glandular fever may cause sore throat problem. The tonsils and the glands in the neck are often very large and may cause severe breathing difficulties.

Other Possible Causes:

  • Measles may causes the sore throat under some circumstances.
  • Breathing through the mouth can cause the throat to dry and become painful.
  • In some cases a sore throat could be a sign of throat cancer (usually in smokers) or AIDS
  • Allergies. Allergies do not cause sudden sore, painful throats. They can, however, cause chronic mild throat irritation.
  • Sore throat could occur due to infectious mononucleosis.
  • Fish, chicken bone, or other foreign substance increases the risk of throat problems.
  • Surgery such as tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may lead to the condition of sore throat.
  • Sinus drainage may cause a sore throat.

Symptoms for Sore Throat may include:

  • If there's pain in the throat, it may be due to occurrence of sore throat.
    In the sore throat symptom, pain may spread to the ears.
  • The lymph nodes under your jaw and in your neck get swallow in sore throat cases.
  • If the sore throat is due to the Coxsackie virus, small blisters may develop on the tonsils and in the soft palate.
  • If the sore throat is due to a streptococcal infection, the tonsils often swell and become coated and the throat is sore.
  • An injury to the back of your mouth may increase the chances of get affected by sore throat.
  • Headache may occur in this condition.
  • Vomiting may lead to sore throat problem.
  • White patches in your throat or on your tonsils.
  • There will be problem in breathing during sore throat.
  • You will have a problem in swallowing the foods.
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Joint pain may occur due to throat problem.
  • Rash
  • There will be high fever during sore throat.
  • Blood in saliva or phlegm
  • Lump in neck
  • Hoarseness lasting over two weeks.

View our Home Remedies for Sore throat to help relieve the pain and dryness.

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