Learn About Ailments | Sore throat

Sore throat

A sore throat or a swollen throat (known as pharyngitis) is an inflammation or redness of the pharynx and surrounding areas. A sore throat is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection and can be accompanied by tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils), or a cough and cold. Typical symptoms are pain, especially when swallowing, and sore or swollen glands.
Sore throat

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There are many causesof a sore throat but the most common are bacterial or viral infections. The common cold, flu and glandular fever can cause a person to suffer with a sore throat. An infection can also cause swelling and inflammation in the throat around the oropharynx (back of the throat area) and the tonsils (the two lumps either side of the throat).

A bacterial infection from the streptococcus bacteria causes a condition known as 'strep throat'. Sore throats can also be caused by breathing through the mouth rather than the nose or from nasal drainage during a cold. Infection of the tonsils (known as tonsillitis) will cause a sore throat and swollen throat. Certain medications have the side-effect of a sore throat while more serious conditions such as throat cancer will cause a throat to be sore or swollen.

Sore throat symptoms include a redness and soreness at the back of the throat. The throat can feel painful and tender and there may be difficulty swallowing. A sore throat may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as high temperature, fatigue or aching muscles and joints.


A sore throat is usually the sign of an infection so more than one symptom is common. A swollen throat typically has the symptom of swollen or inflamed tonsils or swollen glands (the lumps on either side of the neck just under the skin).


Someone with 'strep throat' will show symptoms of high fever, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and occasionally pus can be seen on the tonsils. In children and infants there may be a yellow-green discharge from the nose, swollen glands, poor appetite and general irritability.


If the sore throat is accompanied by an exceptionally high temperature the bacterial infection known as epiglottis may be present which can lead to breathing difficulties. If temperature has reached 38c (100.4f) or more then seek medical advice. If you have difficulty breathing, swallowing or opening your mouth seek emergency medical help.

Many sore throats or swollen throats can be self-diagnosed and will not usually require a GP's diagnosis. However, if symptoms persist for more than two weeks or if the throat is particularly swollen and painful then visit your local GP who will perform an examination of the throat and identify any other symptoms that may lead to a diagnosis of the problem.


If glandular fever is suspected, a blood test will be required. For 'strep throat', the doctor may take a swab of the throat or tonsils and smear it onto a plate to identify any bacteria. Should the doctor suspect a serious condition such as cancer you will be referred to a specialist.   

  • Sore Throat
  • Swollen Throat
  • Throat Pain
  • Pharyngitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Virus Infection
  • Bacteria
  • Bacterial
  • Glandulare Fever
  • Flu Virus
  • Cold Virus
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Streptococcus Group A
  • Coxasckie Virus
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Streptococcal Infection
  • Rheumatic Fever 
  • Kidney Disease
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Problem Swallowing
  • Penicillin


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