Most of us are familiar with a sore throat - a painful, dry, or scratchy feeling in the throat. But did you know a sore throat is divided into three types? Pharyngitis, Tonsillitis, and Laryngitis. The most common cause of a sore throat is pharyngitis (viral infection such as a cold or the flu). Pharyngitis refers to an inflamed pharynx. It's the medical term for a sore throat. Your pharynx starts behind your nose and ends just above your voice box. Laryngitis refers to an inflamed larynx, or voice box

Pain in the throat is one of the most common health problems. It is also the reason and beginning of scarlet fever. Scarlet fever can cause flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, a sore throat, and swollen neck glands. A common test in the doctor's office is redness and inflammation of the glands. Since September 2022, the number of suspected scarlet fever cases has risen to nearly 30,000 after the UK Health Security Agency added almost 10,000 potential new infections. 

Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) continues to show an out-of-season increase in scarlet fever and group A streptococcus infections and a higher number of cases than seen in a typical year.

Sore throats are usually caused by infections or environmental factors like dry air. A sore throat can be uncomfortable and must be prevented. 

  • Pharyngitis causes swelling and soreness in the throat
  • Tonsillitis is swelling and redness of the tonsils, the soft tissue in the back of the mouth
  • Laryngitis is swelling and redness of the voice box or larynx

Symptoms of Sore Throat 

The symptoms of a sore throat can vary depending on what caused it. The throat may feel; 

  • scratchy
  • burning
  • raw
  • dry
  • tender
  • irritated

It may hurt more when you swallow or talk. Your throat or tonsils might also look red. Sometimes, white patches or areas of pus will form on the tonsils. 

Along with the sore throat, you may also have symptoms like:

  • nasal congestion
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • cough
  • fever
  • chills
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • hoarse voice
  • body aches
  • headache
  • appetite loss

Causes of Sore Throats

Causes of sore throats range from infections to injuries. Below are a few of the most common sore throat causes.

  • Cold, Flu, and other Viral Infections

Sore throat is usually caused by a viral infection. Among the viruses that cause sore throats are:

  • Common cold
  • Influenza - the flu
  • COVID-19
  • Mononucleosis - an infectious disease that’s transmitted through saliva
  • Measles - an illness that causes a rash and fever
  • Chickenpox - an infection that causes a fever and an itchy, bumpy rash
  • Mumps - an infection that causes swelling of the salivary glands in the neck
  • Strep Throat and Bacterial Infections
    Bacterial infections can also cause sore throats. The most common one is strep throat, an infection of the throat and tonsils caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat causes nearly 20-30% of sore throat cases in children. Tonsillitis and sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia can also cause a sore throat.
  • Allergies
    When the immune system reacts to allergy triggers like pollen, grass, and pet dander, it releases chemicals that cause symptoms like nasal congestion, watery eyes, sneezing, and throat irritation. Excess mucus in the nose can drip down the back of the throat. This is called postnasal drip and can irritate the throat.
  • Dry Air
    Dry air can suck moisture from the mouth and throat, leaving them feeling dry and scratchy. 
  • Smoke and Chemicals
    There are harmful chemicals and substances in the environment that irritate the throat. This may include;

any type of smoke, including tobacco smoke

  • Air Pollution
  • Cleaning products and other chemicals
  • Aerosolized sprays (air fresheners)
  • Smoking Tobacco and other substances
  • Injury
    Certain types of injury can cause pain in the throat. For example - a piece of food stuck in your throat. Repeated use strains the vocal cords and muscles in the throat. You can get a sore throat after yelling, talking loudly, or singing for a long period of time as well. 
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
    GERD is a condition in which acid from the stomach backs up into the oesophagus — the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. The acid burns the oesophagus and throat, causing symptoms like heartburn and acid reflux — the regurgitation of acid into your throat. Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), also known as silent reflux, can also cause the acid from the stomach to flow back up into the oesophagus or throat, leading to a sore throat.

Home Remedies for a Sore Throat

You can treat most sore throats at home. All you need to do is give your immune system a chance to fight the infection. Below are a few quick and easy remedies to cure a sore throat. 

  • Gargle with a mixture of warm water and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Drink warm liquids that feel soothing to the throat - hot tea with honey, soup broth, or warm water with lemon. 
  • Suck on a piece of hard candy or a lozenge
  • Turn on a cool mist humidifier to add moisture to the air
  • Rest your voice until your throat feels better
  • Use Regina’s honey-based supplements that help to boost the immune system and may alleviate cold or flu-like symptoms

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