A sore throat will happen to most people, and while this is usually the result of an infection, if you are dealing with persistent or recurring symptoms, you may be wondering when it might actually be time to see an ENT specialist.
Contagious infections are usually the cause behind most sore throats and these infections are either viral or bacterial. Sinus infections can also cause sore throats, particularly if you are dealing with postnasal drip. If you battle allergies to mold, dust, pollen, or pet dander, then you may also experience a sore throat along with a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
The most common viral infections to cause sore throats include everything from a simple cold and flu to whooping cough and mononucleosis (mono). Mono is one infection that can last weeks and cause severe symptoms including fever, chills, trouble breathing, and extreme exhaustion. If you suspect that your sore throat could be due to mono, it’s important that you see your otolaryngologist for treatment.
Bacterial infections can also lead to a sore throat, more particularly infections caused by the strep bacteria. These infections include pneumonia, sinus infections, and tonsillitis. Along with a sore throat, you may also experience a fever, red or white patches in the back of the throat, inflamed tonsils, and/or swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Sometimes, your sore throat can simply be irritated, whether that be from the weather, environmental pollutants, or vocal strain. From shouting and singing loudly at a concert to mouth breathing at night, there are many scenarios in which the back of the throat can dry out and cause discomfort. This is usually something that will go away on its own and is usually nothing to worry about.
However, if you find that your sore throat is persistent and occurs most mornings when you first wake up, this could be a warning sign of acid reflux. Acid reflux causes partially digested food and acid from the stomach to flow back up into the throat, which can cause burning and irritation of the throat’s delicate lining. If left untreated, acid reflux can do serious damage to the throat.
If your sore throat is accompanied by vocal changes including hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or difficulty breathing, these issues require an immediate checkup from an ENT doctor, as they could be signs of a polyp, growth, or tumor on the throat or voice box.
If you have been dealing with recurring sore throats or symptoms that last anywhere from 7-10 days then you should seek care. An otolaryngologist will be able to diagnose and treat any and all conditions affecting the ear, nose, and throat, as well as the head and neck. If you are concerned about your sore throat, schedule an appointment today.