Sore Throat

What causes a sore throat?

What are the causes of a sore throat? Why are sore throats more common amongst children? How do you treat a sore throat? Could your lifestyle be causing your sore throat?

The answers to these and any other questions you may have can be found in this complete guide to a sore throat. This guide covers all aspects of a sore throat which includes throat infections, medical conditions which cause a sore throat (amongst other symptoms) and throat cancer.

It also includes sections on treatment for a sore throat and ways of preventing a sore throat from developing in the first place. However, it is not always possible to do so and there are occasions when a sore throat occurs for no obvious reason.

But, there are situations where a sore throat can be prevented, for example, stopping smoking. Smoking causes both minor and major throat problems as well as other risks to the body and should be avoided.

Another example is adopting a healthy lifestyle which will help to boost the body’s immune system as well as improve general health and wellbeing. This will also reduce the risk of a throat infection.

A structured and easy to understand overview of a sore throat

The subject of sore throats is a wide ranging one which encompasses the more common infections such as tonsillitis through to less well known conditions such as quinsy (which is rare in the UK).

In order to help you with this we have arranged this guide as follows:

This guide is designed for anyone who wants to know more about the causes of a sore throat. This includes people who are generally interested in the subject of sore throats; parents who want to know why their child or children often develops a sore throat; someone, maybe you, who develops a sore throat a few times each year and wants to know if this can be prevented; and people with a particular medical condition, the symptoms of which include a sore throat.

Sore throat: a very common condition

Most of us have experienced a sore throat at some point in our lives and whilst they are painful they are not usually serious. Many people develop a sore throat once or twice each year although these usually disappear without the need for any treatment.

A sore throat is no respecter of age, gender, ethnicity, background etc. None of these are exempt from getting a sore throat and it is one of those things which affect all of us from time and time.

So, you need to be philosophical about it. But there are occasions when a sore throat is symptomatic of an underlying condition which requires further investigation. An example of this is acid reflux which requires medical intervention. This applies to a range of medical conditions such as the Epstein-Barr virus and the Herpes simplex virus. These and other viruses are discussed further in this guide.

A variety of causes of a sore throat

Most cases of a sore throat are caused by a bacteria or a virus but there are a few cases which occur for a variety of reasons. These include a symptom of a condition such as hay fever or a blood disorder (e.g. leukaemia), lifestyle factor such as obesity and a side effect of treatment for cancer. These are discussed in greater detail in this guide.

Sore throat: an occupational hazard

A sore throat is an annoyance albeit one that we live with whilst we go about our daily lives. For many of us it does not prevent us from doing our jobs or any other normal activities.

But it is problematic for those people who use their voice to earn a living. If you are a singer or a professional speaker then developing a sore throat is the last thing you want. This is even worse if you end up losing your voice. If you are employed in any of these then you are at increased risk of a sore throat and any problems to do with your vocal cords. Our subsection on voice misuse covers this in more detail which is located within the looking after your throat section.

Your throat is a finely tuned part of your anatomy which requires careful handling especially if you use it to earn a living. It is important not to overuse your throat and to employ a few measures to prevent it from becoming strained which can lead to a throat infection. Find out more about this in our section on professional speakers and singers.

Have a healthy throat

There are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing a sore throat. This does not mean that you will never develop a sore throat as this is caused by any number of viruses or bacteria present in our environment. But you can reduce the likelihood of developing a sore throat by wearing a scarf in winter weather, not sharing any cups, glasses or cutlery with someone who has a throat infection and avoiding substances such as animal fur or pollen if you have an allergy to these. Our preventing a sore throat section discusses this in greater detail.

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