What is Throat Infection?
Throat infection is the dry, scratchy, or painful feeling in the throat. Throat Infection also called, Pharyngitis, is a viral or bacterial infection leading to inflammation of tissues of the throat that causes redness, pain, and swelling of walls of the throat.
Our throat, or Pharynx, is a tube-like structure that carries food to the esophagus and air to the windpipe. Due to this, infectious agents often enter through the mouth or nose. Most of these infections are viral and others can be caused by bacteria such as Streptococcus Pyogenes or groups of Streptococcus. When streptococcal bacteria attack the throat it causes a painful and well-known condition called Strep Throat.
Types of Throat Infection-
There are basically 3 types of throat infection –
- Pharyngitis – This type of infection affects the area right behind the mouth.
- Tonsillitis – It is the swelling and redness in tonsils, the soft tissue in the back of the mouth.
- Laryngitis – It is the swelling and redness of the voice box or larynx.
Throat Infection Symptoms
The symptoms of sore throat may vary depending upon its causes. The most common throat infection symptoms are:
- Swollen throat
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Body pain
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Difficulty in talking
It may hurt more while swallowing food or talking. The throat might also look red. When it is caused by a bacterial infection, i.e. strep throat it may lead to white patches or pus on the tonsils
Who is at risk
- Children and teens between age 3 to 15 are most likely to develop sore throats.
- Exposure to smoking
- Seasonal allergies
- Exposure to chemical irritants
- People with Sinus infections
- People with weak immunity
Throat Infection Causes
A throat infection can be caused by a viral infection. Some of the most common viruses that lead to throat infection are the common cold, mumps, influenza(flu), measles, and mononucleosis(infection transmitted through saliva). It can also be caused by a bacterial infection known as Streptococcus bacteria.
Dry air can suck moisture from mouth and throat leading to scratchiness and dryness which can also lead to the bad throat. Apart from this, smoke from chemical factories, cigarettes can also lead to irritation in the throat.
Throat Infection Diagnosis
The doctor, during the examination, will ask the symptoms. They will use a torchlight to check the back of the throat for redness, swelling, and white spots. The doctor may also feel the sides of the throat to see if you have swollen glands.
If the strep throat is suspected then, the doctor will run a swab over the back of your throat and collect a sample for strep throat bacteria. The results are available within minutes. In order to confirm the results, the sample is sent for a lab test which can definitely confirm if you have strep throat.
Sometimes you might need more tests to figure out the cause for throat infection. For this, you can visit a specialist who treats diseases of the throat, called Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor or Otolaryngologist. They can help in throat infection diagnosis.
Throat Infection Treatment-
Throat Infection can be easily cured at home without consulting a doctor within a week. Some tips are for throat infection treatment are as follows –
- Gargle with a mixture of warm water and ½ to 1 tbsp of salt.
- Drink warm water that feels soothing to the throat, like warm water with lemon, hot tea with honey and ginger, herbal teas are also very soothing for sore throats.
- Suck on a piece of hard candy or lozenge
- Cooldown your throat by ice cream
- Take full rest in order to strengthen your immune system
After the doctor’s recommendation, you may take Antibiotics to treat sore throat caused by bacteria, such as strep throat. Antibiotics won’t treat viral infections. You need to cure strep throat to prevent more serious complications.
However, if the throat does not improve or the pain increases then it is recommended to consult a doctor on an immediate basis.
Throat Infection Prevention
Here is how to prevent the throat infection –
- Stay away from people suffering from viral fever
- Do not share food, drinks, or utensils.
- Wash hands often
- Drink lots of water and other fluids
- Eat nutritious food and have a healthy diet
- Get plenty of rest
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