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Sore throat

Sore throat: Introduction

A sore throat is a symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. A sore throat can result from infection, allergy, inflammation, trauma, malignancy, airway obstruction and other abnormal processes.

A sore throat can occur in any age group or population. A sore throat can indicate a mild condition, such as shouting. A sore throat can also be the result of a moderate condition, disorder or disease, such as influenza, upper respiratory infection or adenoid disorders. A sore throat can also accompany conditions that can be serious. These include airway obstruction, throat trauma, tumor of the larynx and epiglottis.

Depending on the cause, a sore throat can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when a sore throat occurs after talking excessively or straining the voice. A sore throat can also be chronic and ongoing over a long period of time, such as when a sore throat is due to smoking or a tumor of the larynx.

A sore throat can be the result of a wide variety of other conditions, including pharyngitis, laryngitis, strep throat, allergic reactions, postnasal drip, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), mumps and infectious mononucleosis.

A sore throat often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common symptoms include fever, swollen glands, hoarseness and flu-like symptoms. Complications of a sore throat can include swallowing difficulty and decreased food and fluid intake. The underlying disorder, disease or condition can also cause complications, which can be serious, even life-threatening in some cases. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of a sore throat.

Diagnosing a sore throat and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. This includes examining the throat for signs of throat abnormalities such as redness and inflammation. Infection may be suspected when the tonsils are swollen and covered with pus. A temperature is also taken. Fever can indicate an infectious cause of the sore throat.

If an infection is the suspected cause of a sore throat, a throat culture and sensitivity is performed. This test takes a swab sample of the throat and tonsils with a cotton swab. The sample is then examined and grown in the laboratory. A throat culture and sensitivity can diagnose strep throat.

Diagnosis may also include a complete blood count, which can help to determine if an infectious process, such as infectious mononucleosis is present. A test called a mono-spot may also be done to confirm infectious mononucleosis.

If an allergy is suspected to be the cause of a sore throat, diagnostic testing may include skin patch testing. In a skin patch test, small amounts of common allergens are applied methodically to the skin to determine what substances are triggering an allergic response. A blood test called a radioallergosorbent test (RAST) may also be done to help identify the substances that are causing an allergy.

Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose other potential underlying diseases, conditions or disorders, such as throat trauma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and tumor of the larynx. Depending on the suspected cause, tests can include additional blood tests, biopsy, and imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT scan, nuclear scans, and MRI.

A diagnosis of a sore throat and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because a sore throat may be mild or intermittent and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of a sore throat.

Treatment of a sore throat involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of a sore throat....more »

Sore throat: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing a sore throat and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, a sore throat may not be severe enough for a person to seek medical care. In addition, diagnosing the underlying or associated disease, disorder or condition can be delayed because noticeable symptoms, such as a sore throat, may not occur immediately, such as in tumors of the larynx. A sore ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Sore throat:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Sore throat. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Sore throat: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Sore throat

Home medical tests possibly related to Sore throat:

Causes of Types of Sore throat:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Sore throat:

Review causes of types of Sore throat in more specific categories:

Review causes of more specific types of Sore throat:

Sore throat: Symptom Checker

Our database lists various combinations of symptoms associated with Sore throat. Visit the Sore throat: Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Sore throat Treatments

Treatment plans for a sore throat are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, minimizes the discomfort of a sore throat, decreases the risk of developing serious ...Sore throat Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Sore throat may include:

Review further information on Sore throat Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Sore throat

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Sore throat may include:

  • Lemon juice and warm water gargle
  • Warm salt water gargle
  • Warm salt water and Listerine gargle
  • Sage, alum, brown sugar, vinegar and warm water gargle
  • Ginger, honey, lemon and warm water gargle
  • more treatments »

Sore throat: Animations

Stories from Users for Sore throat

Real-life user stories relating to Sore throat:


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