Sore throats commonly accompany colds and the flu as well as allergies. Normally they last seven to ten days. You have myriad choices in over-the-counter medications to treat the discomfort. Do not use antibiotics for this type of sore throat; antibiotics should not be used for viral infections.
Strep throat, or streptococcus pyogenes, is a bacterial infection. Most common in children, strep throat is also contagious. You may notice spots on the roof of the mouth, and other symptoms, such as fever, rash, or difficulty swallowing. This condition should be diagnosed and treated most often with antibiotics. Expect to keep your child at home for at least 24 hours after treatment begins and symptoms are gone before returning to school.
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils, characterized by swelling and redness and often accompanied by fever and a sore throat. When the infection is caused by streptococcus, your child will likely be treated with an antibiotic. In extreme or recurrent cases, your doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy.
GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)
Acid reflux can reach the back of your throat and cause discomfort, voice change, excessive phlegm, and sensation of needing to frequently clear your throat. The throat should be examined before initiation of therapy and symptoms improve best with diet and lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, head elevation at night, and avoidance of acid-producing foods such as spicy, fried, or acidic.
Throat cancer refers to any cancer that develops in the throat from the part just behind the nose to the tonsils behind the mouth to the pharynx to the vocal cords, larynx and epiglottis. Factors that increase your risk of developing throat cancer include, but aren’t limited to, smoking and chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol, HPV, GERD, and even a diet lacking fruits and vegetables.
The signs and symptoms of throat cancer overlap with a number of other common health problems. Symptoms include a cough, sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and weight loss. If your symptoms persist, don’t ignore them. The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the better.