Throat infections are common among both adults and children. They start as itching in the throat and may eventually affect swallowing, speaking and even breathing. Other symptoms of a throat infection include:
- A scratchy sensation or pain in the throat
- Swollen glands (lymph nodes)
- Swollen and red tonsils
- White patches or pus in the tonsils
- Decreased ability to swallow
- Voice changes
Typically, these infections are caused by viruses and bacteria, but they can also be caused by allergies and sinus infections. Here are some of the causes of sore throats and infections to help you differentiate the symptoms:
Viruses, such as the flu, colds, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough or mononucleosis (mono).
Bacterial infections, the most common of which is strep throat. This infection is caused by streptococcus bacteria, resulting in pneumonia or tonsillitis. Strep throat is usually differentiated by a fever and white patches on the tonsils and throat.
Epiglottitis is the most dangerous throat infection since it closes the airways and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include painful swallowing, difficulty breathing and change in speech.
Allergies to pollen, molds and house dust.
Acid reflux can also cause a sore throat. People often feel the most severe symptoms in the morning since the acid from the stomach can enter the esophagus and then the back of the throat.
It is important to drink plenty of liquids when you have a throat infection. Also, be sure to take pain medication prescribed by your doctor such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen to help ease the pain. Gargling with warm salt water may also help get rid of the scratchy sensation.
Most infections caused by viruses will clear up on their own after a few days. However, bacterial throat infections require antibiotics. If the symptoms persist for two weeks, you have difficulty breathing, or experience drooling or persistent fever, contact Dr. Shuaib immediately.
There are several things you can do to avoid throat infections:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
- Avoid sharing food, drinks and utensils.
- Use alcohol sanitizers to wash hands when soap and water aren’t available.
- Regularly clean the devices you use, such as your cell phone, TV remote and computers.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
If your symptoms are several and don’t improve after a week or if you experience severe sore throats frequently, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shuaib.
Dr. Stefan Shuaib is one of the top head and neck surgeons in Texas and provides on-site diagnosis and treatment in the Rio Grande Valley. If you are concerned about any changes or symptoms you have been experiencing, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shuaib by calling (956) 362-8125.