Causes of a sore throat

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Shutterstock

Finding the cause of a sore throat is key in treating it effectively. A sore throat is a symptom of an underlying cause. The most common cause of a sore throat is viral pharyngitis (throat). This condition is usually self limiting and except for the discomfort resolves by itself within a couple of days.

There are, however, many other causes of a sore throat. The following is a summary if the most common ones:

Infective causes

Viral infections

By far the most common cause of a sore throat. This is due to:

               • Common Cold
               • Flu
               • Childhood infections like measles and chickenpox and croup

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are less common than viral infection, but also a notable cause of a sore throat:

              • Strep throat – the most common bacterial cause of sore throat.
              • Whooping cough – characterised by a typical “whooping” sound at the end of a cough.

Non-infective causes

Allergies which may cause a post nasal drip. Post nasal drips irritates the throat and can lead to a sore throat.

Environmental factors:  heavy air conditioned rooms may dry out the air and cause an irritated throat. Ingested chemicals may irritate or even burn the throat the lower respiratory tract and digestive system.

Smoking, excessive alcohol intake and overwhelmingly spicey foods may cause a sore throat

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a well known cause for sore throat. Acidic stomach content may come back up the esophagus as high as the pharynx.

HIV infected people might often experience sore throats. It is important to have it looked at by a doctor. Fungal infections is very prevalent in HIV patients and esophageal candidiasis may become so severe that the patient can’t eat or drink anything.

Malignancies of the neck, tongue, larynx or any of the soft tissues of the oral cavity can be the cause of a sore throat. This is often associated with other symptoms like a change in voice, hoarseness and a finding it difficult to swallow food.  Occasionally you can also note blood in the saliva. 

Read More:

Sore throat

Sore throat remedies

Antibiotics for sore throat mostly useless

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
16.79
-1.0%
Rand - Pound
20.26
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.08
+0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.59
+0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.0%
Gold
1,775.15
0.0%
Silver
19.89
0.0%
Palladium
2,130.50
0.0%
Platinum
937.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
94.92
+0.8%
Top 40
63,114
+1.3%
All Share
69,519
+1.2%
Resource 10
64,042
+2.5%
Industrial 25
84,928
+0.3%
Financial 15
15,675
+1.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE