Sore throat (Other names: Pharyngitis, inflammation of the pharynx, raw throat, pharyngeal inflammation, throat pain).
A sore throat is pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat. It is associated with the various parts of the throat and named for the specific area affected i.e. the pharyngitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis and the less common but very serious epiglottitis.
Some causes of a sore throat are:
Age - Children and teens are more vulnerable. Tobacco - Smoking and secondhand smoke is irritating to the throat. Allergies - Allergies or ongoing allergic reactions to dust, molds or pet dander can make you more prone to develop a sore throat than are people who don't have allergies. Exposure to chemical irritants - The air from the burning of fossil fuels or common household chemicals and cleaners can cause throat irritation. Chronic or frequent sinus infections - Sinus infections increase the risk of sore throat due to the irritation caused by drainage from the nose. Close quarters - Living and working in small space especially in winter when more time is spent inside and less fresh air is available. Areas such as child care centers, classrooms, offices, prisons and military installations are examples. Lowered immunity - You are more susceptible to a sore throat when you have HIV, diabetes, are taking steroids or chemotherapy drugs, are under stress, fatigued, and/or have a poor diet.
You should see a doctor when you have a sore throat for more than a week or is associated with difficulty swallowing or breathing, difficulty opening your mouth, joint pain, earache, rash, fever over 101 F (38.3 C), blood in saliva or phlegm, have frequently recurring sore throats, a lump in your neck or hoarseness lasting more than two weeks.
If you experience a sore throat with difficulty breathing, drooling, leaning forward to breathe, taking rapid shallow breaths, "pulling in" of muscles in the neck or between the ribs with breathing, high-pitched whistling sound when breathing, and/or have trouble speaking you should seek emergency help. This could be epiglottitis which is the inflammation of the epiglottis (this the tall semi tubular structure at the back of the throat). This type of sore throat is rare and is an emergency as the airway can close or block.
Dawn had over 25 years of clinical practice and healthcare informatics experience and two degrees (nursing and computer engineering) when she joined Isabel in 2010. An essential part of our team, Dawn is our Vice President of Client Services.