What is throat pain?

Throat pain may be general or specific to a structure within the throat, such as your tonsils or voice box (larynx). Sometimes soreness or irritation at the back of the tongue can also register as throat pain.

The types of disorders that can cause throat pain include pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and, in rare cases, throat cancer. Inflammation of the throat is commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections. A common bacterial infection of the throat is due to Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A Streptococcus, known as strep throat. Infectious mononucleosis is a type of viral infection that produces characteristic throat pain.

Your throat can also be irritated or become sore as a result of allergies, voice straining, vomiting, or gastric reflux, a condition in which stomach acids flow upward into the throat.

Throat pain, in itself, is not life threatening and may resolve on its own. However, if your pain lasts more than several days, and if it is accompanied by other symptoms, you should contact a medical professional to identify the cause. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms such as choking or severe difficulty breathing, which may be combined with pale or blue lips and fast heart rate (tachycardia), high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), sudden swelling of the tongue or throat structures, change in level of consciousness or alertness, or a change in mental status or sudden behavior change.

Seek prompt medical care if you have a persistent or mucus-producing cough with sore throat, white patches and redness in your mouth or throat, a persistent fever, or a persistent feeling of something stuck in the throat.


What other symptoms might occur with throat pain?

Throat pain may accompany other symptoms, depending on the underlying disorder. Symptoms that frequently affect the throat may also involve other body systems.

Symptoms of an infection that may occur along with throat pain

Throat pain may accompany other symptoms affecting the respiratory system including:


What causes throat pain?

Among the most common causes of throat pain are infectious diseases, certain cancers, voice straining, tobacco use, and exposure to toxic chemicals or other injuries.

Infectious causes of throat pain

Throat pain may be caused by infectious disorders including:

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Ear, Nose and Throat

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