Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention of Sore Throat

Baca Soalan


Sore throat is a common complaint in our population’s visit to the doctors. It has a variety of causes. A sore throat can include feelings of pain, dryness or itching in your throat. The type of sore throat can be divided based on the anatomy of the throat, namely the larynx and pharynx. Sore throat is often treated for its cause, for example, infection, allergy, post-intubation or cancer. This article will provide information on the causes of throat pain, symptoms of sore throat, treatment, complications of throat pain along with prevention. 

Causes of throat pain: 

There are several causes of a sore throat. Here are some of the common ones: 

  1. Viral infection 

Virus infection is the leading cause of sore throat  in our citizens. Examples of viruses that can cause throat pain include colds virus, croup, and mononucleosis. It often causes a sore throat when one is swallowing.  


  1. Bacterial infections 

Bacterial infections cause more serious and painful symptoms. Strep throat due to streptococcus infection can cause severe throat pain and difficulty swallowing. If you are suffering from throat pain due to bacterial infection, you will need antibiotics. Throat bacterial infections can be life-threatening as it is able to bring about complications in the heart or kidney problems if left untreated.  

  1. Allergies

Allergies are an exaggerated reaction of our body's immune system towards allergens. Allergens can include dust, pollen-flowers or even post-nasal drip from your nose. 


  1. Acid reflux

A sore throat due to acid reflux usually occurs in the morning. Abdominal acid can back flow up into your throat at night while you are sleeping.

  1. Irritation from dry air, chemicals or cigarette smoke

Irritants in the air will increase as your breathing through your mouth instead of through the nose, thus causing inflamed throat.


  1. Laryngitis due to excessive use of voice 

Certain occupations require the use of excessive voice production, especially professional tutors or teachers. In addition to sore throat, you can also have a hoarse and painful voice while talking. 

  1. Post-intubation 

After any surgical procedures, the intubated patient will experience sore throat as the tube is inserted into your throat may damage the throat linings. 

  1. Cancer 

The growth of the tumor can cause a sore throat. It can be a persistent cause of sore throat despite intense medical management. 

Symptoms of throat pain: 

Sore throat is a symptom. It can include pain, itching, dryness and irritation of your throat. Most throat diseases can have other symptoms. 

Examples of symptoms that can occur with a sore throat include: 

  • Nasal congestion 

  • Runny nose 

  • Sneezing 

  • Coughing 

  • Fever with Chills 

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Hoarse voice 

  • Headache

  • Sore throat when swallowing

  • Poor appetite 

Viral throat infections can have other related symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat. Bacterial infections can also have a similar presentation but compared to viral infections, they have less systemic symptoms such as muscle aches or headaches. Cancer of the throat will make you lose weight despite absence of any dietary changes. Signs of a baby with a sore throat can include constant tears, lack of appetite and inactivity.  

Treatment of throat pain: 

If you have a sore throat of unknown cause, you should seek medical help to obtain the appropriate treatment. The doctor will inquire about the duration of the throat pain, symptoms and the treatment that has been taken. Following medical history, the doctor will examine your throat. Most of the time a red throat can be observed because of inflammation of the throat. Only selected case will require the doctor to get a tissue sample from your throat in order to create a culture which can allow the type of infection- causing germs. It is important to determine the antibiotic requirements in your treatment. Generally, antibiotics are given if you have bacterial infections in your throat. If you need further tests, you will need the help of an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist. The infection of the virus in your throat will heal itself within 2 to 7 days. Your doctor will advise you to rest completely at home so that your immune system can fight the infection. 

Tips for home sore throat treatment: 

  1. Take warm drinks such as tea with honey or lemon juice. It helps relieve your sore throat.  

  2. Sucking on lozenges may help reduce pain. 

  3. Reduce talking volume to allow your vocal cords to rest.

  4. If you have an air conditioner, put on humid air mode to help alleviate sore throat.

  5. Select foods with softer consistency so that it’s easier to swallow. For example porridge, oats or soup. 

  6. Avoid spicy, dry and hard foods. For instance curry or dried cookies. 

If your sore throat has any additional symptoms below, please consult your doctor immediately. 

  1. Severe type sore throat 

  2. Trouble swallowing 

  3. Breathing diffculties

  4. Difficulty opening mouth 

  5. Fever reaching 38 degree Celsius 

  6. Earache

  7. Coughing up blood 

  8. Sore throat for more than a week

Complications of sore throat: 

Some complications of sore throat can be caused by the symptoms itself or due to complications from its causes, such as allergies or specific infections by Haemophilus influenza or Streptococcus pneumoniae

  1. Complications of strep throat (Streptococcus pneumoniae infections): 

  • Dehydration if not drinking enough water 

  • Lack of nutrition due to painful swallowing

  • Rheumatic fever 

  • Kidney problems 

  • Shortness of breath 

  1. Allergies

  • Higher risk to develop asthma

  • ENT problems such as sinusitis, ear infections or lung infections 


  1. Haemophilus influenza infection (epiglottitis): 

  • Respiratory congestion of respiratory tract obstruction 

Prevention of Sore Throat: 

Prevention of throat pain involves lifestyle modification and reduced exposure to infection. Examples of prevention include: 

  • Separate yourself from sick people, especially individuals down with cold. If you cannot separate yourself, please wear a face mask. 

  • Always wash your hands. 

  • Do not share food, drinks or utensils. 

  • Reduce touching your eyes or face. 

  • Practice healthy eating.

  • Get enough rest. 

  • Drink enough water.  

If you have any questions or problems with your throat pain, please consult a doctor for further examination and inquiries. 


MBBS (Melaka-Manipal)

18 Aug 2018
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