7 Causes of Chronic Sore Throat, Plus When You Should Seek Treatment

What is Pharyngitis?

Nearly everyone has experienced some degree of sore throat, or pharyngitis, in their lifetime. Pharyngitis is a symptom shared by many illnesses. It occurs when your pharynx (the tube that connects your mouth and nose to your esophagus) becomes inflamed. Inflammation of the pharynx most often develops because of an infection. Still, it can also occur due to environmental factors and other illnesses.

When you experience a sore throat for longer than a week or frequently develop sore throat symptoms, you may be experiencing chronic pharyngitis. Read on to learn more about this condition, including the causes, symptoms and treatment options for a persistent sore throat.

What Causes a Sore Throat?

Since sore throat is a common symptom of many different illnesses, it is important to see a specialist to help determine the root cause. Some of the most common chronic sore throat causes include:

  1. Viral Infections, like the common cold, influenza, mononucleosis, measles and COVID-19

  1. Bacterial Infections, with the most common being strep throat

  1. Allergies, which can vary from person to person and include allergens like pet dander, mold and pollen

  1. Irritants, such as air pollution, tobacco smoke, alcohol, spicy foods and chemicals

  1. Throat Strain, which occurs when you strain the muscles in your throat by raising your voice or talking for long periods of time

  1. Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), which occurs when stomach acid reenters your esophagus after consuming food and drinks

  1. Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, or the regurgitation of stomach acid that reaches up the esophagus and enters the throat

  1. Tonsillitis, or inflammation of the pharyngeal tonsils

  1. During the winter, waking with a sore throat may be a result of dryness

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Pharyngitis?

A chronic sore throat is often associated with and occurs alongside other signs and symptoms. Those experiencing persistent sore throat may also frequently have the following symptoms:

  • A painful or scratchy throat

  • Swollen glands in the neck

  • Hoarseness

  • Trouble swallowing

  • A feeling that something is stuck in the throat

  • Swollen tonsils

When you have a chronic sore throat caused by a virus or bacteria, you may also experience the symptoms associated with infection, such as:

  • Fever and chills

  • Coughing

  • Sneezing

  • Body aches and headaches

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

What are the Treatment Options for Chronic Pharyngitis?

The treatment options for chronic sore throat depend on the cause of your pharyngitis.

Suppose your persistent sore throat develops due to a viral infection. In that case, it should resolve on its own after the virus runs its course. When dealing with virus-induced pharyngitis, you can find sore throat relief by taking over-the-counter pain relievers.

If your chronic throat soreness is caused by a bacterial infection, you will need to see a doctor who can prescribe an antibiotic regimen to fight off the infection.

If your chronic sore throat comes from vocal strain, be sure to take time to rest your voice, stay hydrated and avoid raising your voice when possible.

If allergies are the cause of your sore throat, you will need to address those underlying allergies to find sore throat relief. While you can take over-the-counter allergy medications like Benadryl during an allergic reaction, allergy shots or drops may be a better long-term solution for persistent sore throat due to allergies. Speak to an allergy specialist about the best course of action for combatting allergies.

If related to dryness, then a good humidifier at bedtime may help.

Finally, if you are unsure of the underlying cause of your chronic pharyngitis, make an appointment with an ENT specialist for a throat consultation.

When to See a Specialist for Chronic Sore Throat

If you develop a persistent sore throat but few major symptoms, you may be able to treat your condition with the suggestions mentioned above. However, if more serious symptoms begin to occur, it is best to consult an ENT specialist. See your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following issues associated with chronic sore throat:

  • A sore throat that is severely painful or that persists longer than one week

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing

  • Difficulty opening your mouth

  • Pain in your joints

  • Earache

  • Rash

  • Temperature greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Coughing or spitting up blood

  • A hoarse voice that lasts longer than two weeks

  • Neck or facial swelling

Don’t let a chronic sore throat get in the way of life. If you have experienced painful swallowing, hoarseness and other symptoms of pharyngitis for more than a week, try these tips and contact ENT and Allergy Associates today!

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