Throat irritation

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Throat irritation can refer to a dry cough, a scratchy feeling at the back of the throat, or a sensation of a lumpy feeling or something stuck at the back of the throat.

Allergies[edit]

See also: Allergy

During the summer months, allergies are a common cause of throat irritation. Many individuals have allergies to pet dander, dust, mites, pollen and molds that can trigger an allergic reaction which present with runny nose, red eyes, congested nose and throat irritation. Often a dry cough may also be present.[1]

Laryngitis[edit]

See also: Laryngitis

It is inflammation of the voice box which can occur from overuse, irritation or an infection. Laryngitis can be a short term illness or a prolonged problem. The majority of cases of laryngitis are due to viral infections which only last a few days. Laryngitis is often a common complaint in individuals who sing. Opera singers or those who yell at sporting events strain the throat muscles and develop a case of laryngitis. However, persistent throat irritation and hoarseness may be from a more serious disorder like cancer.

Pharyngitis[edit]

See also: Pharyngitis

Viruses are common causes of the common cold. Less often, bacteria may also cause pharyngitis. Both of these organisms enter the body via the nose or mouth as aerosolized particles when someone sneezes or coughs. Because many germs are contagious, one can even acquire them from touching utensils, toys, personal care products or door knobs. The most common viruses that causes throat irritation include the common cold virus, influenza, infectious mononucleosis, measles and croup. Most bacteria and virus usually induce throat irritation during the winter or autumn.[2]

Epiglottitis[edit]

See also: Epiglottitis

It is a very serious disorder of the back of the throat near the windpipe. The most common cause of epiglottitis is an infection by the bacteria, H influenza. The condition may present all of a sudden with high fever, severe sore throat, difficult and painful swallowing, drooling saliva, hoarse voice, difficulty breathing and malaise. The condition is life-threatening and needs immediate hospitalization. Epiglottitis is treated with antibiotics. Routine vaccination has made epiglottitis very rare but it still does present in some children. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can be life saving.

Post-nasal drip[edit]

Also called rhinorrhea, is a very common medical disorder that occurs when the nasal tissues are congested and the excess fluid runs either at the back of the throat or out of the nose. Post-nasal drip can be caused by the common cold, allergies to dust, smoking, or pet dander. Even spicy foods can sometimes cause post-nasal drip. Runny nose is not life-threatening but can be uncomfortable and socially unacceptable.[3]

Strep throat[edit]

It is caused by bacteria which if untreated can lead to many other problems in the body. Strep throat is most common in childhood but can affect people of all ages. It may present with throat pain, difficulty swallowing, painful and swollentonsils, fever, headache, skin rash and nausea. The diagnosis of strep throat is straight forward and the treatment requires a course of penicillin. However, if the treatment is not adequate, rheumatic fever can occur with resultant damage to the heart valves.[4]

Environment[edit]

When the environment is dry especially in winter, it can create a sensation of dryness and a scratchy feeling in the throat. This is most commonly observed in the morning. Other individuals who also develop throat irritation are those breathing through their mouth because of a congested nose. Environmental pollution is also a common cause of throat irritation. In fact, indoor pollution because of tobacco smoke used to be a common cause of throat irritation. Other items known to induce throat irritation include alcohol, spicy or hot foods and smokeless tobacco.[5]

Acid reflux[edit]

This affliction is a common cause of throat irritation. Normally the stomach produces acid in the stomach which is neutralized in the small intestine. To prevent acid from flowing backwards, the lower part of the swallowing tube (esophagus) has a valve which closes after food passes through. In some individuals, this valve becomes incompetent and acid goes up into the esophagus. Reflux episodes often occur at night and one may develop a bitter taste in the mouth. The throat can be severely irritated when acid touches the vocal cords and can lead to spasms of coughing. To prevent throat irritation from reflux, one should lose weight, stop smoking, avoid coffee beverages and sleep with the head elevated.[6]

Diagnosis[edit]

The diagnosis of a throat irritation include a physical exam and throat culture.

Treatment[edit]

The majority of cases of throat irritation usually go away without any treatment. There is no real treatment for throat irritation from a virus. If you have difficulty swallowing then one should drink liquids, suck on lozenges, ice chips or mix salt with warm water to gargle. Bacterial infections generally require antibiotics. Home remedies for throat irritation include gargling with warm water twice a day, sipping honey and lemon mixture or sucking on medicated lozenges. If the cause is dry air, then one should humidify the home. Since smoke irritates the throat, stop smoking and avoid all fumes from chemicals, paints and volatile liquids. Rest your voice if you have been screaming or singing. If you have pharyngitis, avoid infecting others by covering your mouth when coughing and wear a mask..[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allergic Reaction Emedicine Health. Retrieved on 2010-02-05
  2. ^ Pharyngitis Analysis American Academy of Family Physicians. Retrieved on 2010-02-05
  3. ^ What is Post Nasal Drip Sinus Professionals Online Portal. Retrieved on 2010-02-05
  4. ^ Strep Throat Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 2010-02-05
  5. ^ What Causes Sore Throats Family Doctor Portal. Retrieved on 2010-02-05
  6. ^ Gastro-oesophageal reflux NetDoctor Portal. Retrieved on 2010-02-05
  7. ^ Sore Throat or Pharyngitis MedicineNet. Retrieved on 2010-02-05