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In Tennessee, sore throats account for thousands of visits to a healthcare provider each year. A sore throat (pharyngitis) is an uncomfortable sensation of the throat, also called the pharynx. Discomfort may worsen when you swallow. Learn more about causes, symptoms, treatments, and more.

What causes a sore throat?

The most common cause is a viral infection, such as the cold or flu. This is due to associated mucous production that drains from the sinuses down across the pharynx, also called postnasal drip. In most cases, this resolves on its own within a week or so. Symptoms often improve with home treatment like saltwater gargles, nasal saline rinsing, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Strep throat is caused by a bacteria called streptococcus. Most of the time, strep bacteria doesn’t cause infections. However, when it does, strep infections require treatment with antibiotics.  It is important to treat strep infections to prevent further complications.

Other common causes

• Common cold (virus) • Flu (virus) • Bacterial infections • Mono (mononucleosis virus) • Chickenpox (virus) • COVID-19 (coronavirus) • Measles (virus) Less common causes of sore throat may need a more complex workup and treatment. Additional causes may include: Allergies. Allergies to environmental triggers like mold and pollen can cause a sore throat. The problem is worsened by a postnasal drip, which irritates the throat. East and Middle Tennessee have particularly bad seasonal allergies, some of the worst on the east coast. Dryness. Dry indoor air can make your throat feel rough and scratchy. Dry mouth secondary to other diseases may dry and irritate the entire oral cavity. Irritants. Outdoor air pollution and indoor pollution to irritants such as tobacco smoke or other airborne chemicals can be a cause. Chewing tobacco. Consuming alcohol and spicy foods also can irritate your throat. Muscle strain. An overuse irritation and/or inflammation can occur from yelling, talking loudly, singing, or talking for long periods without rest. Acid reflux disease (GERD). GERD is an upper gastric/digestive disorder where stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. This can cause burning pain in the upper GI tract. Tumors. Cancerous tumors of the head and neck can cause a sore throat. Other signs may include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, noisy breathing, a lump in the neck, and blood in saliva or phlegm. Sleep Apnea. Open-mouth breathing and snoring caused by sleep apnea may be additional factors.

What are the Symptoms of Sore Throat?

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, Tennessee Telehealth may be able to safely and conveniently treat your sore throat. The most common symptoms include:
  • Scratchy sensation
  • Worsening pain when swallowing or talking
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Sore or swollen lymph nodes or glands
  • Inflamed, red tonsils
  • Visible white patches or pus on your tonsils
  • A hoarse or muffled voice
Infections might result in other signs and symptoms, including:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

When is a Sore Throat an Emergency?

If your sore throat is accompanied by these symptoms, you should seek emergent care: • Difficulty breathing • Difficulty swallowing • Unusual drooling, which might indicate an inability to swallow • A sore throat that is severe or lasts longer than a week • Difficulty swallowing • Difficulty breathing • Swelling in your neck or face • Difficulty opening your mouth If your sore throat is accompanied by these symptoms, you should seek care soon: • Joint pain • Earache • Rash • Fever higher than 101 F • Blood in your saliva or phlegm (mucous expelled from nose or mouth) • Frequently recurring sore throats • A lump in your neck • Hoarseness lasting more than two weeks

Get treatment for your sore throat

No matter where you live in Tennessee, we can treat your sore throat with our convenient Telehealth appointments. Save time and hassle by scheduling with Tennessee Telederm. Schedule an appointment and start feeling better soon.

Have questions or comments, or want to book an appointment?

Tennessee Telederm is proud to announce we are expanding to offer urgent care services. Learn More.

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