Throat irritation

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Throat irritation can refer to a dry cough, a scratchy feeling at the back of the throat, a sensation of a lumpy feeling, something stuck at the back of the throat, or possibly a feeling of dust in the throat. The symptoms are unpleasant and usually temporary, but occasionally signifies a more serious health issue, such as laryngitis.


Common cold



During the summer months, allergies are a common cause of throat irritation. Many individuals have allergies to pet dander, dust, mites, pollen and molds that can trigger an allergic reaction which present with runny nose, red eyes, congested nose and throat irritation. Often a dry cough may also be present. [1]


It is inflammation of the voice box which can occur from overuse, irritation or infection. Laryngitis can be a short term illness or a prolonged problem. The majority of cases of laryngitis are due to viral infections that only last a few days. Laryngitis is often a common complaint in individuals who sing. Opera singers or those who yell at sporting events strain the throat muscles and develop a case of laryngitis.


Viruses are common causes of the common cold. Less often, bacteria may also cause pharyngitis. Both of these organisms enter the body via the nose or mouth as aerosolized particles when someone sneezes or coughs. Because many germs are contagious, one can even acquire them from touching utensils, toys, personal care products or door knobs. The most common viruses that causes throat irritation include the common cold virus, influenza, infectious mononucleosis, measles and croup. Most bacteria and viruses usually induce throat irritation during the winter or autumn. [2]


It is a very serious disorder of the back of the throat near the windpipe. The most common cause of epiglottitis is an infection by the bacteria, H influenza. The condition may present all of a sudden with high fever, severe sore throat, difficult and painful swallowing, drooling saliva, hoarse voice, difficulty breathing and malaise. The condition is life-threatening and needs immediate hospitalization. Epiglottitis is treated with antibiotics. Routine vaccination has made epiglottitis very rare but it still does present in some children. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can be life saving.

Post-nasal drip

Also called rhinorrhea, is a very common medical disorder that occurs when the nasal tissues are congested and the excess fluid runs either at the back of the throat or out of the nose. Post-nasal drip can be caused by the common cold, allergies to dust, smoking, or pet dander. Even spicy foods can sometimes cause post-nasal drip. Runny nose is not life-threatening but can be uncomfortable and socially unacceptable.

Strep throat

It is caused by bacteria which if untreated can lead to many other problems in the body. Strep throat is most common in childhood but can affect people of all ages. It may present with throat pain, difficulty swallowing, painful and swollen tonsils, fever, headache, skin rash and flu. The diagnosis of strep throat is straight forward and the treatment requires a course of penicillin. However, if the treatment is not adequate, rheumatic fever can occur with resultant damage to the heart valves. [3]

Acid reflux

This affliction is a common cause of throat irritation. Normally the stomach produces acid in the stomach which is neutralized in the small intestine. To prevent acid from flowing backwards, the lower part of the swallowing tube (esophagus) has a valve which closes after food passes through. In some individuals, this valve becomes incompetent and acid goes up into the esophagus. Reflux episodes often occur at night and one may develop a bitter taste in the mouth. The throat can be severely irritated when acid touches the vocal cords and can lead to spasms of coughing. To prevent throat irritation from reflux, one should lose weight, stop smoking, avoid coffee beverages and sleep with the head elevated. [4]

Post-viral cough

A post-viral cough is a lingering cough that follows a viral respiratory tract infection, such as a common cold or flu and lasting up to eight weeks. Post-viral cough is a clinically recognized condition represented within the European medical literature. Patients usually experience repeated episodes of post-viral cough. The heightened sensitivity in the respiratory tract is demonstrated by inhalation cough challenge


Rarely persistent throat irritation and hoarseness may also be from a more serious disorder like cancer.


The diagnosis of a throat irritation include a physical exam and throat culture.


Sore or scratchy throat can temporarily be relieved with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water used as a gargle. [5]

The majority of cases of throat irritation usually go away without any treatment. There is no real treatment for throat irritation from a virus. If you have difficulty swallowing then you should drink liquids, suck on lozenges, ice chips or mix salt with warm water to gargle. Bacterial infections generally require antibiotics. Home remedies for throat irritation include gargling with warm water twice a day, sipping honey and lemon mixture or sucking on medicated lozenges. If the cause is dry air, then one should humidify the home. Since smoke irritates the throat, stop smoking and avoid all fumes from chemicals, paints and volatile liquids. Rest your voice if you have been screaming or singing. If you have pharyngitis, avoid infecting others by covering your mouth when coughing and wear a mask. [6]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scarlet fever</span> Infectious disease caused by Streptococcus pyogenes

Scarlet fever, also known as scarlatina, is an infectious disease caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, a Group A streptococcus (GAS). The infection is a type of Group A streptococcal infection. It most commonly affects children between five and 15 years of age. The signs and symptoms include a sore throat, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and a characteristic rash. The face is flushed and the rash is red and blanching. It typically feels like sandpaper and the tongue may be red and bumpy. The rash occurs as a result of capillary damage by exotoxins produced by S.pyogenes. On darker-pigmented skin the rash may be hard to discern.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Streptococcal pharyngitis</span> Medical condition

Streptococcal pharyngitis, also known as streptococcal sore throat(strep throat), is pharyngitis (an infection of the pharynx, the back of the throat) caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, a gram-positive, group A streptococcus. Common symptoms include fever, sore throat, red tonsils, and enlarged lymph nodes in the front of the neck. A headache and nausea or vomiting may also occur. Some develop a sandpaper-like rash which is known as scarlet fever. Symptoms typically begin one to three days after exposure and last seven to ten days.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Common cold</span> Common viral infection of the upper respiratory tract

The common cold or the cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract that primarily affects the respiratory mucosa of the nose, throat, sinuses, and larynx. Signs and symptoms may appear fewer than two days after exposure to the virus. These may include coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, headache, and fever. People usually recover in seven to ten days, but some symptoms may last up to three weeks. Occasionally, those with other health problems may develop pneumonia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cough</span> Sudden expulsion of air from the lungs as a reflex to clear irritants

A cough is a sudden expulsion of air through the large breathing passages which can help clear them of fluids, irritants, foreign particles and microbes. As a protective reflex, coughing can be repetitive with the cough reflex following three phases: an inhalation, a forced exhalation against a closed glottis, and a violent release of air from the lungs following opening of the glottis, usually accompanied by a distinctive sound.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esophagitis</span> Medical condition

Esophagitis, also spelled oesophagitis, is a disease characterized by inflammation of the esophagus. The esophagus is a tube composed of a mucosal lining, and longitudinal and circular smooth muscle fibers. It connects the pharynx to the stomach; swallowed food and liquids normally pass through it.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pharyngitis</span> Inflammation of the back of the throat

Pharyngitis is inflammation of the back of the throat, known as the pharynx. It typically results in a sore throat and fever. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, headache, difficulty swallowing, swollen lymph nodes, and a hoarse voice. Symptoms usually last 3–5 days, but can be longer depending on cause. Complications can include sinusitis and acute otitis media. Pharyngitis is a type of upper respiratory tract infection.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sore throat</span> Medical condition

Sore throat, also known as throat pain, is pain or irritation of the throat. Usually, causes of sore throat include:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laryngitis</span> Medical condition

Laryngitis is inflammation of the larynx. Symptoms often include a hoarse voice and may include fever, cough, pain in the front of the neck, and trouble swallowing. Typically, these last under two weeks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rhinitis</span> Irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose

Rhinitis, also known as coryza, is irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose. Common symptoms are a stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, and post-nasal drip.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Upper respiratory tract infection</span> Medical condition

An upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) is an illness caused by an acute infection, which involves the upper respiratory tract, including the nose, sinuses, pharynx, larynx or trachea. This commonly includes nasal obstruction, sore throat, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, otitis media, and the common cold. Most infections are viral in nature, and in other instances, the cause is bacterial. URTIs can also be fungal or helminthic in origin, but these are less common.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tonsillitis</span> Inflammation of the tonsils

Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils in the upper part of the throat. It can be acute or chronic. Acute tonsillitis typically has a rapid onset. Symptoms may include sore throat, fever, enlargement of the tonsils, trouble swallowing, and enlarged lymph nodes around the neck. Complications include peritonsillar abscess.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Post-nasal drip</span> Medical condition

Post-nasal drip (PND), also known as upper airway cough syndrome (UACS), occurs when excessive mucus is produced by the nasal mucosa. The excess mucus accumulates in the back of the nose, and eventually in the throat once it drips down the back of the throat. It can be caused by rhinitis, sinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or by a disorder of swallowing. Other causes can be allergy, cold, flu, and side effects from medications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rhinorrhea</span> Type of medical symptom where the nasal cavity is filled with fluid mucus

Rhinorrhea, rhinorrhoea, or informally runny nose is the free discharge of a thin mucus fluid from the nose; it is a common condition. It is a common symptom of allergies or certain viral infections, such as the common cold or COVID-19. It can be a side effect of crying, exposure to cold temperatures, cocaine abuse, or drug withdrawal, such as from methadone or other opioids. Treatment for rhinorrhea is not usually undertaken, but there are a number of medical treatments and preventive techniques.

In medicine, animal allergy is hypersensitivity to certain substances produced by animals, such as the proteins in animal hair and saliva. It is a common type of allergy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Respiratory disease</span> Disease of the respiratory system

Respiratory diseases, or lung diseases, are pathological conditions affecting the organs and tissues that make gas exchange difficult in air-breathing animals. They include conditions of the respiratory tract including the trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, pleurae, pleural cavity, the nerves and muscles of respiration. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self-limiting, such as the common cold, influenza, and pharyngitis to life-threatening diseases such as bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, tuberculosis, acute asthma, lung cancer, and severe acute respiratory syndromes, such as COVID-19. Respiratory diseases can be classified in many different ways, including by the organ or tissue involved, by the type and pattern of associated signs and symptoms, or by the cause of the disease.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Respiratory tract infection</span> Infectious disease affecting nose, throat and lungs

Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are infectious diseases involving the respiratory tract. An infection of this type usually is further classified as an upper respiratory tract infection or a lower respiratory tract infection. Lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, tend to be far more severe than upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Centor criteria</span>

The Centor criteria are a set of criteria which may be used to identify the likelihood of a bacterial infection in adult patients complaining of a sore throat. They were developed as a method to quickly diagnose the presence of Group A streptococcal infection or diagnosis of streptococcal pharyngitis in "adult patients who presented to an urban emergency room complaining of a sore throat." The Centor criteria are named after Robert M. Centor, an internist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Throat culture</span>

A throat culture is a laboratory diagnostic test that evaluates for the presence of a bacterial or fungal infection in the throat. A sample from the throat is collected by swabbing the throat and placing the sample into a special cup (culture) that allows infections to grow. If an organism grows, the culture is positive and the presence of an infection is confirmed. The type of infection is found using a microscope, chemical tests, or both. If no infection grows, the culture is negative. Common infectious organisms tested for by a throat culture include Candida albicans known for causing thrush and Group A streptococcus known for causing strep throat, scarlet fever, and rheumatic fever. Throat cultures are more sensitive than the rapid strep test (70%) for diagnosing strep throat, but are nearly equal in terms of specificity.

Chronic cough is long-term coughing, sometimes defined as more than several weeks or months. The term can be used to describe the different causes related to coughing, the three main ones being upper airway cough syndrome, asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease. It occurs in the upper airway of the respiratory system. Generally, a cough lasts around one to two weeks; however, chronic cough can persist for an extended period of time defined as six weeks or longer. People with chronic cough often experience more than one cause present. Due to the nature of the syndrome, the treatments used are similar; however, there are a subsequent number of treatments available, and the clinical management of the patients remains a challenge.


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  2. Pharyngitis Analysis American Academy of Family Physicians. Retrieved on 2010-02-05
  3. Strep Throat Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 2010-02-05
  4. Gastro-oesophageal reflux NetDoctor Portal. Retrieved on 2010-02-05
  5. "Does Gargling Wlth Salt Water Ease a Sore Throat?". WebMD.
  6. Sore Throat or Pharyngitis MedicineNet. Retrieved on 2010-02-05