Skip to main content

Throat pain

19 May 2016


Throat pain

What is throat pain
Throat pain is essentially a sore throat. It is usually caused by a virus and is accompanied by flu or colds, along with a stuffy runny nose, sneezing and generalised aches and pains.

It may also cause difficulty in swallowing, especially in older people. For reasons that are usually temporary and not serious, it may cause dysphagia, meaning difficulty in foods or liquids being absorbed by the stomach.

What causes throat pain
The most common causes are viruses, which are highly contagious and spread quickly, especially in winter. Other common causes for throat pain include:

  • Bacteria
  • Smoking
  • Breathing polluted air
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Allergic cold or other allergies

When to contact a physician
When the throat pain is severe and does not subside after 5 to 7 days of flu or cold, without being connected to an allergy or irritation.

Warning signs and symptoms:

  • Severe and prolonged pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Pain in the joints
  • Pain in the ears
  • Recurring throat pain
  • Hoarseness lasting over 2 weeks
  • Throat swelling
  • High temperature
  • Anaphylaxis

How is throat pain treated
When throat pain has been caused by a virus, the body produces antibodies that gradually destroy it. The process usually takes about a week.

To soothe mild throat pain accompanied by flu or cold symptoms:

  • Increase your fluid intake
  • Drink warm tea with honey
  • Gargle with lukewarm salt water several times a day: 1 teaspoon of salt dissolved in ½ a cup of water
  • Use a steam vaporiser or a humidifier in your bedroom
  • Take throat lozenges