Sore Throat: Causes And Symptoms

A sore throat might sound like a standard ailment, but it accounts for more than 13 million visits to healthcare facilities each year. A sore throat is unbearable scratchiness or irritation of the throat that worsens while swallowing.

Common causes of sore throat are viral infections like flu and cold. If a virus attack causes a sore throat, then it will resolve on its own. Looking at the numbers and the possible problems that it might cause, should we stay well-informed about such a situation? This piece educates you precisely about that; let’s get started!

Sore Throat: Everything you need to know

In general, sore throats are categorized into three types, based on the part of the organ it is affecting:

  • Tonsillitis- It is the swelling and redness of the soft tissue at the back of the mouth.
  • Pharyngitis. It affects the part right behind the mouth.
  • Laryngitis. It is redness and swelling of the voice box.

Symptoms of a Sore Throat

The symptoms vary with the cause. Signs might include

  • Difficulty in swallowing and throbbing pain
  • Scratchy sensation in the throat
  • White patches on the tonsils
  • Swollen glands in the jaw or neck
  • A hoarse voice

Sore throat caused due to infections might include these symptoms.

  • Runny nose
  • Persistent sneezing
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Body pain
  • Nausea

When to Consult a Physician?

If you or your child have a sore throat that doesn’t subside by another morning, consult a primary care doctor and get it checked. Seek immediate medical help if the child has severe symptoms and signs like:

  • Trouble in swallowing
  • Breathlessness
  • Drooling might indicate the inability to swallow.

If you are an adult, seek specialist help if you experience symptoms and signs such as,

    • Sore irritation that lasts for more than a week
    • Severe breathlessness
    • Difficulty to swallow
    • Trouble opening the mouth
    • Fever higher than 38.3 C or 101 F
    • Blood in the phlegm or saliva
    • Lump in the neck
    • The hoarse voice that lasts more than a week
    • Visible swelling in the neck and face
    • Rashes
    • Joint pain
    • Earache

Causes of sore throat

1. Viral infections that cause fever

Almost 90% of sore throats are caused due to viruses. Here is the list of common viruses that cause sore throat.

  • Influenza- This attacks the respiratory system- the lungs, nose, and throat.
  • Common cold or Covid 19
  • Mononucleosis- This viral infection is transmitted through saliva
  • Chickenpox- This virus causes itchy, bumpy rashes and fever
  • Measles- It is an illness that causes fever and rash
  • Mumps- This infection cause swelling of the salivary gland in the neck area

2. Streptococcal or other bacterial infections

Bacterial infections can also cause sore throats. The most common one is strep throat; it is an infection of tonsils and throat inflicted by group A Streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat accounts for almost 40% of sore throat cases in kids. Tonsillitis and sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea can also make the throat scratchy.

3. Some type of allergy

When the immune system gets disturbed due to allergy triggers like dust, grass, pollen, and pet hairs, it releases chemicals that prompt throat irritation, nasal congestion, watery eyes, and sneezing.

Even excess mucus in the nasal part can flow down to the back of the throat. This is referred to as a post nasal drip and can irritate the throat. If the allergy has visible swelling along with scratchy throat, contact the nearest urgent care service and let them deal with it.

4. Dry air

This might sound off the charts, but dry air can suck moisture from the throat and mouth. This can make the throat scratchy and dry. This generally occurs during winters when the heater is running all time.

5. Smoke and other irritants

The air consists of varieties of pollutants, and these can sometimes irritate the throat. Here are some common causes:

  • Air pollution
  • Cleaning products or chemicals
  • Any form of smoke (tobacco)

6. Accidental Injury

Any such accidental injury that involves a direct internal cut or hit to the throat can cause a sore throat. Getting a fishbone stuck in the throat can also make a throat scratchy. Repeated high vibration can also strain the throat.

This is why when people sing, shout, yell or talk loudly for a long time, they experience a sore throat. This is a most common symptom among teachers and instructors, who often have to keep their pitch high.

7. Tumor

A tumor of the larynx, tongue, or throat can sometimes induce throat irritation. But if the cause of sore throat is cancer, it won’t go away for months.


Gastrointestinal reflux disease is a condition in which stomach acid backs up to the esophagus. The acid burns the tube that carries food and throat, causing intense heartburn and irritating throat.

Involving risk factors

Getting a sore throat is quite common, but some factors make people more vulnerable, including

  • Exposure to smoke- Tobacco smoking or passive smoking can irritate the throat. Tobacco use also leads to chronic illnesses like cancer of the throat, larynx, or mouth.
  • Age-Teenagers and children are most likely to get sore throats. Children aged between three to fifteen years are more susceptible to strep throat.
  • Exposure to chemical irritants- Industrial waste particles or smoke from burning fossil fuels can cause throat irritation.


  • Wash your hand frequently and thoroughly, especially after sneezing
  • Refrain from sharing clothes, food, or drinks
  • Keep alcohol-based sanitizers handy and use them when you are out
  • Avoid consuming street foods or unhygienic food items
  • Avoid proximity with people who are sick or infected with some type of virus
  • Clean all the electrical devices you use like keyboard, remotes, TV, telephones with sanitizers or cleansers.¬†


However, strep throat or streptococcal infection is a rare type of sore throat that is a bacterial infection and requires antibiotic dosage to prevent severe complications. Sore throat for common causes, does not need an intense medication regime to recover.

Also read: Cases Of Medical Emergencies That We Deal With In Urgent Care

To consult a urgent care service, search primary care followed by your city name. If you live in Arlington, Google Arlington Urgent Care to get a list that can offer primary care at the time of emergency.


1 thought on “Sore Throat: Causes And Symptoms”

  1. Wonderful website with a ton of useful information. I’m forwarding it to some acquaintances and also posting it on Delicious. Of course, I appreciate your effort.

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