Viral pharyngitis, the most common cause of a sore throat.
A sore throat (or throat pain) is pain or irritation of the throat. A common physical symptom, it is usually caused by acute pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat), although it can also appear as a result of trauma, diphtheria, or other conditions. A sore throat may cause mild to extreme pain.
A sore throat is usually from irritation or inflammation. The most common cause (80%) is acute viral pharyngitis, a viral infection of the throat. Other causes include other infections (such as streptococcal pharyngitis), trauma, and tumors. Gastroesophageal (acid) reflux disease can cause stomach acid to back up into the throat and also cause the throat to become sore. In children streptococcal pharyngitis is the cause of 37% of sore throats.
Symptoms and signs of a sore throat include:
- painful and swollen tonsils
- tender and swollen glands in your neck
- painful, tender sensation at the back of your throat
- discomfort when swallowing
Other symptoms associated with common infectious conditions may be experienced, such as:
- a high temperature (fever)
- aching muscles
- runny nose
- general feeling of being unwell
Signs of a sore throat in babies and young children include:
- refusing to feed
- frequent crying
- high temperature
- difficulty sleeping
- runny nose
- tiredness and feeling generally unwell
Analgesics such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and paracetamol (acetaminophen) help in the management of pain. Steroids are also useful in this respect. The Mayo Clinic advises gargling with salty warm water, and resting the voice. Symptoms without active treatment usually last two to seven days.
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