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Throat Infection - What It Is, Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

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What is a Throat Infection?

A throat infection is a common ailment that leads to discomfort in your throat. It can cause your throat to feel sore and irritated. It can also make it difficult to swallow and talk. These infections can be bacterial or viral in nature. Fortunately, however, most infections are mild and usually resolve in a few days.

A sore throat can be caused by a viral infection such as the common cold or flu. In most cases, a viral infection is mild. It resolves on its own in a few days without the need for treatment.

Occasionally, sore throat can be caused due to a bacterial infection. A common bacterial infection is strep throat. Severe bacterial Infections require medical care and treatment with antibiotics.

Read on to know all about the causes, symptoms, and possible treatment options for a throat infection.

Symptoms of Throat Infection

A throat infection can present itself with many different symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity from mild to severe depending on the type of infection. The common symptoms include

  • A sore throat with pain and irritation.
  • Difficulty in talking and a hoarse voice.
  • Painful swallowing while drinking and eating.
  • Swollen glands beneath the jaw that are painful to touch.
  • Red and inflamed tonsils. There may be white patches on the tonsils.
  • Depending on the infection, you may also experience fever, cough, body aches, or nausea.

Causes of Throat Pain

There are several reasons that can lead to a sore throat. Allergies and air pollution can irritate the lining of the throat and cause pain and inflammation. Injuries and strain in the throat muscles can lead to pain in your throat.

Throat pain can also occur due to pathogens infecting the body. Two of the most common causes of throat infections are viral and bacterial infections.

  • Viral infections - A number of viral infections can cause sore throat. These include the common cold, flu, measles, chickenpox, and coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Bacterial Infections - A common bacterial illness that causes sore throat is streptococcus pyogenes. This causes strep throat.

Possible Risk Factors of Throat Infection

Age - Children and teenagers are more susceptible to throat infections. Their weak immune systems make them more likely to develop bacterial and viral illnesses.

Pollution and Allergies - Living in a polluted environment and exposure to dust, pollen, and other allergens can irritate the throat. This can lead to pain and irritation. Inflammation of the throat can also increase the risk of contracting bacterial and viral infections.

Exposure to Tobacco Smoke - Regular smoking and even secondhand smoke can irritate the lining of the throat. This can lead to throat pain. Over a period of time, tobacco products increase the risk of developing mouth and throat cancer.

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