Medically termed Pharyngitis, sore throats stem from inflammation of your pharynx, otherwise known as your throat.
Sore throats are usually caused by viral infections relating to the common cold, flu, mono, measles, and chickenpox. Sometimes strep throat, allergies, dryness or stomach reflux can be the cause of sore throats. 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.However, there are other reasons for sore throats that may be symptomatic of more serious problems.
Strep throat is caused by streptococcal bacteria (strep) in the throat and often the tonsils. Symptoms include sudden severe sore throat, pain swallowing, and a fever over 101oF, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, and white or yellow spots on a reddened back of the throat. Strep throat is highly contagious, with a two-to-five day incubation period. It is important to have strep throat diagnosed and begin treatment as soon as possible in order to prevent its spread to others.
Inflamed Tonsils and Adenoids
Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils located in the back of the throat on both sides of the tongue. Tonsils are part of the body’s natural immune system. This tissue captures bacteria and viruses to either prevent them from entering the body or trigger the appropriate immune response. The back of the throat may appear red or swollen or have a white or yellow coating covering the tonsils. The adenoids (tissue high in the throat behind the nose and soft palate) may also be inflamed and swollen, impeding swallowing and/or breathing. Symptoms include a severe sore throat, painful or difficult swallowing, coughing, headache, fever, chills and swelling of the cheeks and neck.
The larynx allows air to pass in and out of the lungs while preventing solids (food) and liquids from entering the lungs. The larynx also contributes to sound production by the vocal cords. Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx, the top portion of the windpipe (trachea). It is characterized by hoarseness, coughing, difficulty breathing for some children and, occasionally, loss of voice. In addition to an infection, laryngitis may be caused by acid reflux, nodules, polyps, or nerve damage on the vocal cords.
The pharynx is comprised of tissue that resides behind the mouth and soft palate and acts as a pathway for food and liquids to enter the esophagus, and for air to enter the lungs. An inflammation of the pharynx is called Pharyngitis. Painful swallowing is the most common symptom.
The epiglottis is a flap of tissue at the base of the tongue that keeps food from going into the windpipe when swallowing. Epiglottitis occurs when this tissue becomes inflamed and infected. The swelling of the epiglottis can block the tongue and result in a medical emergency.If you experience a sore throat that hampers your ability to swallow, seek immediate medical attention. If you have a sore throat that causes pain or won’t heal, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our Otolaryngologists.