Types of Sore Throat – What are the different types of sore throat and what type is causing yours?
There are a few different types of sore throat – they are dependant on the part of the throat that is affected.
Tonsillitis is inflammation and swelling of the glands known as the tonsils – the two protruding areas of tissue either side at the back of the throat. Symptoms of tonsillitis may include severe throat pain, swollen lymph nodes, fever, fatigue, painful tonsils, bad breath and white pus-filled spots on the tonsils. Tonsillitis is contagious and can be caused by a variety of common viruses or a bacterial infection (which is less common). It is usually transmitted by another person who is already infected. The infection or virus can be spread via tiny droplets of fluid which are emitted by an infected individual during coughing, sneezing, kissing or even speaking (or any other close contact). Symptoms will usually go away on their own in around a week however sometimes it may lead to complications. For this reason it is important to see a doctor if your symptoms are severe and not improving after around 4 days, you are having difficulty in breathing, eating or drinking and you have white pus filled spots at the back of the throat.
Pharyngitis affects the area right behind the mouth – it is caused by swelling of the pharynx which is the area at the back of the throat. If you have pharyngitis you will typically have some or all of the following symptoms : a scratchy throat, difficulty in swallowing, pain at the back of the throat. Pharyngitis is typically caused by a viral infection (such as the common cold virus or influenza virus) and symptoms should improve on their own within a week. On occassion Pharyngitis may be caused by bacteria such as the Group A Strep, Diptheria or Bordetella Pertussis bacteria which causes whooping cough. Have a look at our sore throat treatments page to get some ideas on how to relieve your symptoms.
Laryngitis is inflammation and swelling of the larynx – the voice box. with this type of sore throat the vocal cords become swollen which may lead to hoarseness or loss of voice. The symptoms of laryngitis include a sore throat, fever, headaches, needing to clear your throat, a cough that won’t go away and difficulty in swallowing. Laryngitis is also usually caused by a viral infection (such as the common cold virus or influenza virus) and symptoms should typically improve on their own within 1-2 weeks. It may also be caused by injury such as straining the muscles in the throat or the vocal cords caused by excessive yelling, screaming, shouting or singing for prolonged periods. These activities can strain and irritate your throat and larynx and may result in the temporary loss of your voice. Have a look at the sore throat treatments page to get some pointers on how to ease your symptoms.
When to see a doctor – Types of Sore Throat
It is important to see a medical professional if you have any of the following symptoms :
- difficulty in breathing / pain when you breathe
- difficulty in opening your mouth
- difficulty in swallowing and talking
- a severely sore throat that won’t subside and even gets worse
- a stiff or painful neck
- you have white pus filled areas on the tonsils or at the back of the throat
- you have any swelling inside your mouth and/or throat
- if you have blood in your phlegm or saliva
- severe symptoms such as a high fever (101°F (38°C)
- sore joints
- It is also important to see a doctor/go to the emergency room if your symptoms last longer than four days, are not improving or are getting worse