What is chronic sore throat?
A sore throat is pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often worsens when you swallow. The most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. A sore throat caused by a virus resolves on its own.
A sore throat is normally a temporary symptom, fading away after a few days. A chronic sore throat is one which lasts longer than three or four weeks. If your sore throat persists and the symptoms become more prolonged, it can be a sign that you are suffering from a more severe illness.
How common is chronic sore throat?
Chronic sore throat can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of chronic sore throat?
A chronic sore throat is one which lasts longer than three or four weeks. A chronic sore throat may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms:
- Changes in the voice, especially hoarseness
- Painful swallowing (odynophagia)
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Chronic cough or constant clearing of the throat.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes chronic sore throat?
Some possible causes of a chronic sore throat include:
- Tonsillitis (infection of the tonsils)
- Strep throat
- Mononucleosis (also referred to as mono)
- Inhaling air pollutants
- Influenza (the flu)
- Inhaling through the mouth instead of the nose
Some of these conditions, like the flu, may be fairly minor and not require treatment, while strep throat and tonsillitis can turn into serious health problems if left untreated. Other causes of a chronic sore throat — like smoking — are problems that you can control to alleviate your throat pain. But if you’ve got a chronic sore throat and a cough that you can’t seem to get rid of on your own, with or without additional symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor about it.
What increases my risk for chronic sore throat?
There are many risk factors for chronic sore throat, such as:
- Exposure to tobacco smoke. Smoking and secondhand smoke can irritate the throat. The use of tobacco products also increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat and voice box.
- Allergies. Seasonal allergies or ongoing allergic reactions to dust, molds or pet dander, make developing a sore throat more likely.
- Exposure to chemical irritants. Particles in the air from burning fossil fuels and common household chemicals can cause throat irritation.
- Chronic or frequent sinus infections. Drainage from your nose can irritate your throat or spread infection.
- Close quarters. Viral and bacterial infections spread easily anywhere people gather, whether in child care centers, classrooms, offices or airplanes.
- Weakened immunity. You’re more susceptible to infections in general if your resistance is low. Common causes of lowered immunity include HIV, diabetes, treatment with steroids or chemotherapy drugs, stress, fatigue, and poor diet.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is chronic sore throat diagnosed?
To diagnose, the cause is usually investigated. Identifying the cause depends on the other signs and symptoms present, apart from a sore throat, as well as considering the patient’s medical history. At times, other diagnostic investigation may be required. This may include a neck x-ray, CT scan or laryngoscopy.
How is chronic sore throat treated?
To find the best treatment for your sore throat, it is imperative that you find the culprit behind it. Sore throats caused by bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. If you don’t treat the strep throat seriously it can cause serious complications like heart disease and valvular defects.
Antiviral medicines are used to treat a persistent sore throat that is caused by viral infections or you may get better without any treatment. If your sore throat is due to allergies, then you need medication to control the symptoms in addition to avoiding allergens to ease the symptoms and pain.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage chronic sore throat?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with chronic sore throat:
- Suck something that soothe your throat like a popsicle.
- Don’t use too much of your voice and get sufficient sleep.
- Drink a lot of water and fluids to keep your throat hydrated. A warm tea with honey is recommended for more comfort.
- Some cold foods like ice pops also provide relief to sore throats.
- Use OTC medicines to relieve pain like ibuprofen or naproxen.
- To avoid dry air entering into your throat, use humidifier in home. You can also opt to spend some time in a steam bath.
- Use lozenges for soothing your persistent sore throat but keep them away from children of age 4 or less as they are choking hazard for them.
- Quit smoking if you haven’t already, do not let any smoke enter into the house and don’t use cleaning items which cause irritation in throat.
- Do gargles of a mixture by combining water (8 ounces) and salt (1 teaspoon) couple of times a day.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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Persistent Sore Throat. http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Persistent-Sore-Throat.html. Accessed Mar 17, 2017.
Sore throat. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/symptoms-causes/dxc-20201942. Accessed Mar 17, 2017.
Persistent sore throat. http://www.avogel.co.uk/health/immune-system/sore-throat/persistent-sore-throat/. Accessed Mar 17, 2017.
Review Date: March 19, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019