Cold Season Controversy: What Causes a Sore Throat?

Sometimes the reason you have a sore throat is unclear. There are many reasons a throat can become irritated and inflamed. Symptoms can often indicate which type of sore throat you have and determining this helps you decide which treatment is best.

Most sore throats are caused by the common cold or the flu. In these situations, a virus is infecting the body and causing irritation in the throat. Other symptoms, such as a runny nose and congestion, usually accompany viral infections.  Over the counter medications like Chloraseptic®, combined with rest and fluids, are the best treatment for viral infections.

Strep throat is a different type of infection. It is caused by streptococcal bacteria and often has more severe symptoms than the common cold. Strep throat is usually associated with a sore throat, white patches on the throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, sudden fever, and lack of appetite. Antibiotics are generally prescribed as a treatment for strep throat since they are able to fight bacteria. Only about 10% of sore throats are caused by strep throat.

Outdoor allergens such as trees, pollen, molds, and different plant matter can cause irritating symptoms including a sore throat. In addition, a runny nose can cause postnasal drip and further aggravation. An antihistamine is usually used as the first line of defense for allergies. In addition, throat lozenges, such as Sucrets®, can offer much needed relief from an itchy and painful sore throat.  

Certain foods can cause acid reflux to rise up and irritate the esophagus. If you don’t have any other symptoms besides a sore throat, acid reflux is probably the culprit. Usually a diet change is the best treatment for this type of issue and sometimes doctors will suggest over the counter medications. Talk to your doctor if you suspect you have regular acid reflux.

Sore throats come from a variety of different irritants. It is important to differentiate why you have a sore throat, so you can choose the proper treatment and get relief as fast as possible.