Sore Throat

(Pharyngitis; Tonsillopharyngitis; Throat Infection)

Definition

A sore throat is the general name for 2 common conditions:
  • Pharyngitis—swelling and inflammation of the pharynx (the back of the throat, including the back of the tongue)
  • Tonsillopharyngitis—swelling and inflammation of the pharynx and the tonsils (soft tissue that makes up part of the throat's immune defenses)
Sore Throat Due to Inflammation
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Causes

Many things can cause a sore throat, such as:
  • Infection with a virus, such as the viruses that cause the flu, herpangina, and the common cold
  • Infection with bacteria, such as those that cause strep throat
  • Infectious mononucleosis
  • Mucus from your sinuses that drains into your throat
  • Smoking
  • Breathing polluted air
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Hay fever or other allergies
  • Acid reflux from the stomach
  • Food debris collecting in small pockets in the tonsils
  • Certain immune or inflammatory disorders

Risk Factors

Sore throats are more common children, teens, or people aged 65 years and older. Other factors that may increase your chance of a sore throat include:
  • Exposure to someone with a sore throat or any other infection involving the throat or nose
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke, toxic fumes, industrial smoke, and other air pollutants
  • Having hay fever or other allergies
  • Having other conditions that affect your immune system, such as HIV infection or cancer

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